by Aaron Warner
Picking up from Part 1 we left the Town of Hartford’s recent D.E.I. training wondering why the content promoted by a Burlington area super lawyer seemed written for an audience of adult children who need to be reminded of basic civility in the workplace. The training moves between identity politics, obscure case law references and incongruent analogies aiming to shape or even groom administrators and staff on how to think while they’re trying to do their jobs. Looking at the second part of the training we see where the terms “protected classes” and “reasonable” will inevitably collide in the face of persons who are more concerned with activism than gainful employment.
Regarding reasonable accommodations the categories include: religion, pregnancy and related conditions, known disabilities. This opens the door to a host of ambiguity. Pregnancy is a pretty unique condition, so what is a related condition? Abortion perhaps? As for known disabilities that list grows by the day and likely includes such non-serious maladies such as “text neck” and “gamer withdrawal syndrome”.
The slide “About Reasonable Accommodations” informs us the employer does not have to give the employee exactly what it wants. This seems like a relief of necessary tough love, however it can easily be used as a cudgel against a person’s free speech and religious conscience rights versus an employee who wants to be referred to as xe/xer in the third person. This is qualified by “a reasonable accommodation may inconvenience other workers for a time” which is a euphemism for “we may need to violate one person’s rights in favor of another’s”. How do we know? It’s qualified by stating “reasonable accommodations allow employees to do the essential functions of their job with some differences – time, methods, means, schedules, etc.”
Is this an unfair assumption? Hardly. The very next section gets into discrimination and harassment where we find “creating a ‘hostile work environment’ base on protected characteristics” qualifies. Elucidated by “hostile means ‘severe OR pervasive language treatment or actions’ that adversely affect a person’s ability to do their job…intent is not required. Adverse impact is enough.” So there you have it. It matters not what the person’s motives or rights are so long as the complainant establishes it adversely impacted them. This Pandora’s Box is key to empowering our current victim class to demand allegiance from others who choose not to participate in new speech codes.
Still not sure that’s the case? Next we’re told “Discrimination can be Overt or Subtle” (kind of like syntax). If by subtle you mean open to claims of “micro-aggressions,” I would fancy that is a yes. Given the nearly exhaustive list of potential micro-aggressions and creative ability of the predatory-victim class one can imagine the mine field created by these parameters.
This mess is padded with vague terminology reminiscent of a Kafka trial where “it is not an excuse that you didn’t mean anything by it” and “intent is NOT REQUIRED to prove a violation of law or policy”. You exhibited “unwelcome” behavior. You’re not guilty? That’s exactly what a guilty person would say.
Luckily, it’s not a complete set up as the training includes necessary warnings against sexual harassment and quid pro quo manipulations, both of which need to be policed diligently in our hyper-sexualized culture that is descending into moral and ethical chaos. If anything this part of the training should be mandatory in Hollywood and Washington D.C. more so than small town Vermont.
However, in case we’re still unclear on the desired outcome the presentation takes us along to “Some Examples to Consider”.
To wit, the training goes on with some of the most painful hypothetical situations using caricatures of both modernity and old school New Englanders, that is, ignorant and bigoted white people who speak like they’ve never been around someone different from them.
Our first couple is Eric and Mary who we find out had a sexual relationship together…along with all of their friends on social media where they “posted…racy pictures” during their “COVID fling”. I’m sorry, but if you’re the type of people who do this you are inherently unfit for public work and need to be reminded of basic decency. I don’t know of anyone in Hartford and can’t imagine anyone who works in the town even considering such exhibitionism, let alone carry out the rest of the scenario where Mary, after their breakup, goes on to post virtually naked pictures of Eric holding a pillow over his crotch so the rest of the staff can laugh at him at work thanks to her caption “not hiding much”. This is beneath even high school shenanigans, but the town of Hartford can never be too careful. Eric of course goes to his female supervisor requesting her to “do something” only to be met with more derision and is told by her “if you can’t stand the heat stay out of the kitchen”. The improbably reverse sexism is the only thing laughable about this ridiculous example.
Another slice of modernity is “What’s in a Pronoun?” where Deven identifies as “gender fluid” and takes introductions to new persons at work as an opportunity to play the pronoun game by announcing himself/herself as “they”. Cynthia is a 61 year old new employee who responds to Deven’s request with “That’s stupid. You are just one person. Why would you go by ‘them’?” (sic) Of course Cynthia can be found nowhere in Hartford, although Deven likely exists, and the likelihood anyone begins a new relationship by telling the other person they’re stupid doesn’t even happen among demon possessed middle-schoolers. The buffoonery exists entirely in the mind of the writer, who then tries to make it a matter of Cynthia’s adherence to “grammatical correctness” as she refers to Deven as him.
Deven will no doubt demand Cynthia use theys preferred pronouns (yes that read as stupid as it sounds) despite his Adam’s apple and narrow hips, and Cynthia will be chastised and disciplined for being sucked into a scenario created by the radical leftists who have been planning this moment since George Lukacs started this madness in 1920s Hungary. You see, Cynthia’s right to observe centuries old biological realities are subservient to Deven’s need to identify as an other. This is what is coming to the workplace.
In case you think I’m overstating the cultural Marxism the next slide is titled “Being an Ally”. Ally of course is a one-sided term meaning allying oneself with the new cultural trend (i.e. Identity Marxism) lest you be punished or canceled for adhering to the old Cynthia’s of the world. You can’t do both. Some protected classes are more protected than others.
Of course the litany of potential offenses wouldn’t be complete without discussing “Implicit Bias”. Here the Stockpole sponsored training trots out selected photos indicating implicit bias on behalf of men, white men, and white people. Each one could be easily explained otherwise but that’s not the point. It’s more important to confirm the narrative, which of course is confirmation bias yet that somehow slips past the training’s biased perspective (apparently other perspectives don’t always apply). I wasn’t there to hear how they explained the picture of the penguin captioned “If you want to increase diversity at Google fire all the bigoted white men”, as it could easily indicate another example of implicit bias or simply be the cherry on top of the prevailing message. After it we are confronted with what appear to be a latino girl holding a sign that says “alien” and a black girl holding a sign that says “you don’t talk like you’re black”. As examples of implicit bias they are entirely explicit. However the point of implicit bias we’re told is the “unconscious” nature of it, which means other people get to impugn you and your motives completely protected by this ideological worldview. What you hear is the sound of Franz Kafka rolling over in his grave muttering “I tried to warn you”.
In part 3 we’ll look at the conclusion to the training and take their advice on considering the historical nature of its messaging, namely Marxist-Communism, as this has all been done before in “diverse” national settings.
The author is a VDC columnist and Upper Valley regional reporter. He lives in Hartford, VT where he owns two award-winning small businesses. He is a graduate of Leadership Upper Valley class of 2010.