Monthly Archives: January 2017

Why We Need A Workplace Bullying Law (Part I)

Imagine the following scenario:  It’s time to replace your HVAC filer, so you visit the XYZ Hardware Store.  You approach an employee who is wearing a badge reading, “I’m Kelly.  I’m Here to Help You.”  She is engrossed in her iPhone and doesn’t look up or acknowledge you.  After an awkward moment, you ask, “Excuse me, where can I find HVAC filters?”  Without looking up, barely acknowledging your existence, she mumbles, “Try aisle five.”  You go to aisle five:  no filters.  You return to “I’m Here to Help You Kelly,” and tell her there were no filters in aisle five.  “It’s near aisle five,” she mutters, still captivated by her phone.  “You’ll find it.”  As your blood pressure rises you look for a supervisor and find a young man whose badge reads, “Jeff.  Assistant Manager.”  You ask about HVAC filters and mention that Kelly sent you to aisle five and wasn’t helpful.  “What?” Jeff exclaims, storming off.  Jeff confronts Kelly and, in a loud voice, says, “I don’t know what’s wrong with you.  You know HVAC filters are in 7B.  Why didn’t you say so?”  He tears into her, calling her “stupid,” “ugly,” “useless” and finally:  “You don’t deserve to work here.  You’re lucky the owner likes you.  If it was up to me I’d toss your ugly ass out.  Do you understand?”  Kelly, sobbing uncontrollably, nods her head.  Jeff gives you an “I guess I told her!” look.  You decide you can live with your current filter and start to leave.  You pass an older employee with the weary look of a workplace sage and ask, “Did you see how Jeff treated that employee?  How does he get away with that?”  “I saw it,” she replies and shrugs.  “He’s the owner’s son-in-law.  Untouchable.”  You make an unplanned stop at a liquor store and, when you get home, you are still annoyed at Kelly but feel sorry for her.  You are troubled by the way Jeff treated her and discouraged by the conversation with the sage.  You feel sick to your stomach.  Then you realize:

You have entered a new dimension … as vast as retail and as timeless as anger. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his ambition. This is the dimension of abusive conduct. It is an area which we call the Workplace Bullying Zone.  (Homage to Rod Serling)

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On Your Marks, Get Set, Stop!

Those who viewed the President’s inaugural speech were treated to a description of the country that read like the script for a “Mad Max” movie. The problems that bedevil every recent administration, such as poverty (which is going down) a decline in factory jobs (which are not coming back), some underperforming schools (although the high school graduation rate is at an all-time high) and crime (which is still near an all-time low) were described as “carnage.” Merrian-Webster online describes “carnage” as: “the flesh of slain animals or humans” or a “great and usually bloody slaughter or injury.” That may apply to Aleppo, or the Pulse Nightclub, but America?

Comrade Trump might be onto something if you consider the Pulse Nightclub massacre, the ongoing slaughter in Chicago, and the tragic numbers killed and wounded by firearms. No American can accept tens of thousands killed and wounded annually as reasonable or necessary, or as an inevitable side effect of the Second Amendment. Carnage in the name of the Constitution is never inevitable or defensible. It’s wrong to shout “fire” in a crowded theater. It’s wrong to open fire in one, too.

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The Battle of Little Big Hands

He was vain. He was known for his striking blonde hair, cinnamon scented and longer than the fashion of the day, as essential to his image as twinkle to a star. Gold braids adorned his clothing. He enjoyed success early in life, earning a promotion that made him the youngest general in the Union Army. To honor the occasion, and himself, he donned a special uniform partly because, according to, “he wanted a distinctive uniform so his men could see him during combat.”  The impact was not limited to the troops who served under him. As the same website notes, “Superior officers and newspapermen could also see such striking attire, unlike any other in the army.” That was not an accident. He was one of the first media personalities in American history and was skilled in his use of the news outlets of the day.

He was arrogant and sometimes broke the rules. He violated a treaty and ventured into Native American lands when gold was discovered there, resulting in hostility on the part of the tribes and an effort to confine them to reservations. He once went absent without leave and was court-martialed twice. He failed to follow the orders of his commander and, on the second such occasion, did not live to regret it. He was an author and sought out book deals. He publicly feuded with the President, Ulysses S. Grant, and wrote magazine articles critical of Grant’s attempt to achieve peaceful relations with Native American tribes. He dreamed of becoming President and told associates his future would include the White House.

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