Following The Rules of Political Correctness
Tribune Publisher Michael Schenkler (left) said of Queens Councilman Allan Jennings (right), “He never came on to me, so I have no complaints.”
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
Whenever I come back from vacation, I have nothing to write about. It seems a week away from Queens cleanses the mind and soul and allows you to think about other things — family, Florida sun, the world, diet, hobbies, pleasure and the diversities of life.
While sometimes I’m anxious to wake up on the weekends and get to the keyboard to vent (or rant as Dennis Miller has updated our language), occasionally, like right now, I pick up the Trib, the Saturday and Sunday Times — you get half of it on Saturday with home delivery — and then spend my shower time trying to find column motivation. It’s not always easy.
This week, the commonality of the Times and Trib seems to be Allan Jennings — the strange Councilman from Southeast Queens who works hard but often keeps his colleagues, constituents and us scratching our heads over his antics, behavior and love life.
Jennings who has avoided the press since charges of sexual harassment by Council staffers arose, called us last week to reassert his innocence.
As we have previously reported, the Councilman who last year had proclaimed in a half page ad in a Chinese paper his love for an Asian woman other than his wife, had been accused of misconduct and sexual harassment by two of his female aids, both many years his senior.
As reported by us last week, after the leak of the report of an investigation by an independent firm hired by the Council, Jennings claimed it “all political,” and told the Trib: “There are some people who would say I shouldn’t say this, but I’m tall, dark and handsome guy. I’m 37 years old. I have no interest in a 57 year old woman.”
Although the Council has not released any official information and has referred the matter and report to the Ethics Committee headed by Queens’ Helen Sears, it appears that the worst is over for Jennings. However, insiders say, he could still be the subject of a reprimand connected with creating a hostile work environment and the improper termination of a staffer.
Jennings proclaimed victory over the sexual harassment charges, “It sounds like I have been rightfully vindicated . . . These things just aren’t true,” he told the Trib.
To us the bigger story is buried in a side story reported in the Metro Section of Saturday’s New York Times:
Manhattan Councilwoman Margarita Lopez has been critical of Council Speaker Giff Miller’s failure to provide sexual harassment training for the Council since she first brought the Jennings’ allegations to him.
The Times reports that Miller in defending himself told them that he, “immediately directed his staff to arrange for sexual harassment training for the entire Council. But he said that because of the city’s lengthy procurement policy, it took several months to approve a contract . . .”
Now let me get this straight: the Speaker of the Council — the second most powerful elected official in the City — complains to the New York Times that he can’t do his job with the Council effectively because of City policy.
Duh! Change the policy!
Now we’re not attacking Giff for this. Government bureaucracy chokes us all. But it is delightful, every once in awhile, to see one of them gagging on their own inability to get things done because of rules and policies they have made.
In looking for a column rant, NYC government bureaucracy might rank up there, but is far below the political correctness stranglehold that has beset us all.
No, not poor Allan Jennings . . . he brought much of it on himself. But sexual harassment training for the elected City Council?
Who could have imagined it a few decades ago?
People dated then, flirted then, committed adultery then, came on to employees back then. People were basically the same but somehow we survived. And in most cases fair and just people provided the leadership so that the lawyers and the consultants didn’t get fat with sensitivity training and litigation on every topic in the world.
I wonder, after the sexual harassment training, should the Council receive sexual preference discrimination training?
Did we already have the African American and Latino minority sensitivity training? Have the Korean and Chinese sensitivities been properly trained for? Do we have to have a cultural indoctrination training to deal with potential wrongdoing and litigation for every new immigrant group?
And is sexual harassment training really geared to protect me from the likes of Demi Moore in “Full Disclosure”? I worry about such treatment all the time.
And have we adequately trained for the sensitivities of dealing with the handicapped? And should each handicapping condition receive a training specialist and session of its own?
Yawn . . .you get the idea.
Back in the day — and I’m not all that old and “the day” was not all that long ago — we used to achieve it all with one simple Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
For the most part, it worked. And as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Brown v. the Bd. of Ed of Topeka and study the evolution of civil rights and in our nation, we know that the system works – but as Speaker Miller found out, it works slowly.
Sometimes, very, very slowly.
Has the new behavior choking political correctness and sensitivity training improved things?
Not one bit.
Perhaps the many are now aware of heretofore unwritten rules of conduct, but people are people and those who would go outside of acceptable norms aren’t controlled by publishing rules and sensitivity sessions.
People of good will – most of the people we encounter – are able to take cues from each other and conduct themselves within acceptable social bounds.
The others – the socially deviant – must be dealt with. However, promulgating rules and diverting productive time into feel good political correctness sessions does not address the problem.
It merely gives lawyers clearer evidence trails to bring to court on their clients behalf. It also sadly has taken many a vibrant and vital atmosphere and stifiled expression on the part of many who are overly concerned with crossing that imaginary line of political correctness.
How many potential dates that might have been made at the watercooler have been prevented?
How many offbeat ideas of social merit have been stiffled?
How often is that voice of dissent that might make a difference, silenced?
And how often has a moment of fun turned into an uncomfortable pause for fear of the political correctness police?
People are not treated better because of the sterile atmosphere that is the result of the political correctness devotees.
People are treated well because people are basically good and the Golden Rule of my day still works for most of us.
Those indeed were the days . . . and why did they change?
Blame it on the lawyers.
The purpose of the politically correct rules, training and the court cases has nothing to do with respecting people.
There are apparently just too many lawyers running the system and political correctness helps to feed their families.
Respect people, they deserve it. I’m not so sure about the lawyers.