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Writing the Wrongs

October 9, 2018

Jeff Hough

Since it is October and movie channels everywhere are in horror film re-run mode, I wanted to make some connections between a good horror movie and what happened in Washington last week.

The story begins simply enough. But as it progresses, things get twisted and turned as the story develops. And the most common theme of a good horror film is that just when you think the bad guy is dead, he still has one final act in him.

Last week’s nomination hearing of Judge Kavanaugh seemed like a horror movie remake with a political bent. It was filled with all kinds of twists and turns and things that went bump in the night. While the plot was primarily confined to Washington, the repercussions from it ripple outward.

Let me be clear, I am against sexual abuse of any kind towards any person. I am not taking a stand on one side or the other of the Kavanaugh debate. Yet, I would like to explore its implications to the workplace and our lives.

In the book “Rules for Radicals,” there are 13 rules for helping shift an imbalance of power. The events surrounding the Kavanaugh hearings demonstrate some rules from the book. First is the rule that “the threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself”; the second is “to pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it.”

As demonstrated last week, the tactics of threat and slander appear to cheapen and diminish the power of a legitimate movement. While successful at polarizing people, they do little to advance a cause. This is because the backlash tends to be too great. The intent of the movement to end sexual violence is good. Yet its legitimacy gets called into question because of radical tactics, which in the end hurt the cause of equality.

Women have been pushing for equality for a long time. I would be foolish to think that a gender gap doesn’t exist and that sexism, like racism, doesn’t occur. My fear is the weaponization of these events may have hurt the push for equality.

On the surface, it appears to have hurt the cause on a couple of different fronts. First, because the nomination went through and the claims were considered baseless, the believability of future claims is jeopardized. It casts doubt and hampers the credibility of many who come forward.

The second area of concern is the use of slander. If one wants to be treated equally, one cannot use threats or slander to further a cause. Slander impacts more than the intended target. Often families are involved and reputations ruined because of the blowback from slanderous accusations.

A recent article on axis.com titled America, makes the claim that things are going to get worse. The radicalized author cites instances of such tactics in politics, mainstream media, and social media.

These examples are reshaping and radicalizing many major American institutions and are creeping into the workplace and other facets of our lives previously thought off limits. Areas like sports and entertainment are now becoming tools for promoting polarizing views.

The problem with radical movements is they often don’t have a solution to their cause. They just want to burn everything down. If we are to make things better, we need to follow the examples of Martin Luther King and other peaceful movement leaders.

To prevent the further radicalization of our workplaces we need to operate in an environment of respect and peace. We should use the Golden Rule and remember there are real people on the other side of any argument. As Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

Jeff Hough is a business author, blogger and speaker in Pocatello.

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