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boomer1949 On January - 20 - 2010

Oh My God…

When I arrived at work this morning, I had a brief conversation with a coworker I will call Annie; I like her very much and we have a good relationship. We usually talk about family, work, grandkids.  You know, innocuous and non-threatening subjects.

Well, Annie asked me if I had seen the results of the Senatorial election in Massachusetts.  I acknowledged that I had.  Annie was ecstatic Scott Brown had won and began making negative remarks about President Obama which were not offensive — until — until the following spilled out of her mouth…

He should be lynched!

I was stunned!  Annie must have seen the look on my face, watching as my mouth dropped to the floor, because she then began to ask me if supported President Obama.  However, I quickly stopped her in mid-sentence and politely told her I did not like to discuss politics or religion at work.  Regardless of my office etiquette, I guess I should not have been overly shocked by her comment either. 

Since I have been sans car for the last three weeks, Annie has given me a lift home on numerous occasions, and I am extremely greatful for her willingness to do so.  Nevertheless, it amazes me how riding in someone’s car gives clues into her personality and character.  So when I noticed the local AM radio station she tunes to, I had such a “light bulb” moment even Thomas Edison would have been proud. 

I will give you three guesses whose program airs daily on 610/WTVN in Columbus, OH, and the first two guesses do not count.  That is right, you guessed it!! Drum roll please!!  None other than the piggy, bigoted, hateful, devisive, cigar-smoking, loud-mouthed white man himself…Lush Rumball’s!

This is the cunundrum: 

The Code of Conduct for our company is precise, very well-defined, and leaves no room for feigning stupid;  it is all there in black and white (no pun intended), with nothing gray in between.  In the Fall of  each year, every employee in the company is required to recommit to The Code of Conduct, participate in a webinar, pass a test and sign a statement of acceptance.  The documentation is entered into our personnel records.  

IMO, Annie’s comment was a huge policy violation.  Oh, and did I mention this person is a Sr. Manager — an employee who should know better?

Another stipulation in The Code of Conduct is that any employee who witnesses a violation is obligated to report it, regardless of what it is.  Which brings me here. 

What about the First Amendment and our right to freedom of expression?

Do I or do I not report her racist comment as a violation of  The Code of Conduct?   This is not a rhetorical question, it is a very real question of ethical and moral responsibility to myself, my company, my country, each of you, and last but not least, President Barack Obama.

I know what I should do, but should I do it?

Categories: News & Politics

Written by boomer1949

...do the right thing because it is the right thing to do... Political Views: neutral...lean toward humanity

93 Responses so far.

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  1. VegasBabe says:

    I think my immediate concern is that your not aware of how many others share her sentiments at work, including HER superiors. You might be looked upon as a troublemaker, a rabblerouser for reporting this incident. This didn’t occur at a church social or weekly women’s group over a game of bridge. This is WORK. The work place policies were put in place for a reason, to discourage this sort of thing. And yet….it happens every single day, right under our noses and heretofore, many admittedly just ignored it. Clearly, I don’t think she would have the balls to make such a remark to a black staff person. But the real question is how many does she supervise? If there are minorities under her supervision and IMO, she is clearly racist, then I would have no recourse but to report it. But if not, I’m not so sure I would create potential hostilities for myself. You know, in my hood, they still occasionally say, “self preservation is the first law of nature”. Now, I don’t know what your circumstances are, but are you in a position where the loss of this job would not be disastrous for yourself and your family? Now that you have no doubt who she really is, one can always distance oneself from folks we find repulsive. We don’t have to request and/or accept rides, eat lunch or sit next to them at the conference table and still be professional and courteous. I don’t know….you seem to know what you “should” do, so go with your gut. Good luck with this and do let us know in a month or two how it turned out should you decide to report these comments. Here’s hoping the atmosphere at work doesnt deteriorate for you should you choose to “do the right thang”.

  2. Questinia says:

    The code of conduct is stressed to the point where a webinar is given yearly. It was thoughtfully put into place for a reason. This is the reason.

    Report her.

    Tell her you’d expect her to do the same.

    As a Republican, she’ll understand the need for punishment. It’ll also show her a Democrat has balls. Prepare to maintain a consistent and simple message.

    • VegasBabe says:

      “Codes of conduct” are put in place in practically every work environment and they are routinely broken but those in power who should know better. The oath one takes as a physician is an excellent example however the disparities in treatment amongst whites and blacks are well documented.

      • KQuark says:

        It depends so much on the company as well. The second to last company I worked for took the COC very seriously and gave us managers allot of training about how to treat employees in the workplace. The last company I worked with did not do a damn thing. The COC was just a joke. It’s amazing how corporate environments differ in so many areas.

        • nellie says:

          I’ve known more than one person who ended up having to leave a job for raising a breach of the code of conduct. It can be very dicy.

  3. AlphaBitch says:

    Hey Boomer: So sorry you had this experience. Good on ya for coming here to seek wise counsel, which it seems many have offered (as well as sympathetic ears and lots of tsk-tsking).

    I’ll share an experience that turned out well to try and lighten your heart. As you know, I work with Afghan exchange students. During July 2008, we had a meeting of the prospective host families (three families) to prepare them for the year ahead, with all the cultural challenges. I knew all were conservative, some just politically and some both politically and religiously.

    We sat down to eat when one of the new host dads (thinking, I am sure, that he was in “safe” company) began with a “Did you see what that *idiot* Obama said….”

    I stopped him mid-sentence and said “Wait, wait, wait. You need to know that my husband (The Blovicator) and I are Democrats, and we are HUGE supporters of Obama.” The look on their faces during the awkward pause made everyone just a tad uncomfortable. A former host mom had joined us; I knew she was also a Democrat, but chose not to “out” her.

    I started on how we all wanted the exact same things -- safe places to shop, go to school, etc. -- and that what we disagreed on was HOW to achieve these goals; but that we were all in agreement as to the value of the YES program, etc. etc. I went on about what a great opportunity it would be for the children to see democracy in action in an election year, to see how people could become passionate, how tempers could flair, but how during this time, no one would be KILLED or MURDERED because of what they believed……..

    ……when at that exact moment, the former host mom bit into her cherry tomato and splattered red tomato juice across my face, across my white shirt, and even across the Blov’s shirt, who was sitting at my right.

    EVERYONE burst out laughing. The awkwardness had been broken completely with a comedic moment.

    Postscript: I came to love and admire these now friends, even though we STILL disagree. We no longer work together, since I am not working on the program this year; but we socialize and visit each other often. They are interested in the work with refugees, and have offered their help and support. We all changed just a little bit, and I think for the better.

    After an evening socializing with these precious new friends, The Blov still mumbles, shakes his head in disbelief, and then looks at me and wails:

    “They are so nice, and so smart. How can they be REPUBLICANS????”

    • boomer1949 says:

      Thank you for sharing AB and I’m glad you had a happy ending and gained good friends. And, yes I agree with The Blov —

      They are so nice, and so smart. How can they be REPUBLICANS????

      😆

  4. Janus says:

    Boomer--

    You said she listened to rimjob. She has confessed to intellectual laziness. I think you should define the words she used. Write it out. Give her examples and context. Read it to her, or let her read it for herself. Then ask her “Is this really what you meant to say?”

    Her answer will make the next step obvious and easy.

    • boomer1949 says:

      Janus,

      Thank you for your comments. I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but every reply from every Planeteer has has been extremely insightful.

  5. Kalima says:

    Oh gosh boomer, what a bloody nightmare!

    I wouldn’t report her this time, but if she ever says anything remotely similar in the future, I would take her to task, right then and there, making sure that the people nearby hear your every word to her. Embarrassing a bigot or racist in public by throwing their words back in their faces, often stops them from trying this with you again.

    Oh and if possible, try to find someone else to give you a ride home.

    • Khirad says:

      That was my thought. Opprobrium may not be needed this moment, maybe the look on Boomer’s face sent enough of a cue.

      Next time though…

    • boomer1949 says:

      Morning Kalima,

      I won’t have to worry about a ride — my little car will be released from the local Mechanic’s Hospital on Friday. :-)

      How are you and your furry ones?

      • Kalima says:

        Good evening boomer, we are all fine, thanks for asking. My oldest, Coco and I have been keeping each other company, both sneezing for 3 days. It’s funny to watch, I sneeze, a few minutes later she sneezes.

        Great new about your car by the way, it will keep you away from rabid Lush [email protected] fans.

        • boomer1949 says:

          Maybe Coco is allergic to you. 😉

          I haven’t had a car for three weeks! I don’t think that’s ever happened to me before. Yet,it’s amazing to realize what one can live without and that needing things right away does nothing but raise one’s blood pressure.

          • Kalima says:

            Maybe you are right, I should really wash my hair. :)

            Doing without essential things we use every day, like blocked toilets, baths, A/C in the summer or even the fridge sometimes, makes me appreciate them much more when they are fixed and I don’t have to buy a new one.

  6. whatsthatsound says:

    Wow! Boomer! That is beyond appalling! Everybody else has already given you good advice, so this I’m being superfluous but would just like to get my two cents’ in.

    If it had been me, I wouldn’t do anything at all about the company policy. I would have said, right then and there, that what she said was racist, hateful and deeply upsetting to me. That it shocked me that she would express something like that. That I see the whole picture and appreciate and value her friendship and her acts of kindness, but that I am as far away from her on an idea like that as Mercury is from Pluto.

    She wasn’t talking about “politics”; she was mouthing vile hatred. Simple as that.

  7. GirlOutWest says:

    This is not at all the same situation but at our Church every 4th of July the Pastor would ask that we all pray for the President. We made a point of going on the Sunday of the 4th of July celebration this year to see if he asked us to pray for the President. Surprise, he did not. Instead it was about the Isrealites taking to the streets. My husband practically had to restrain me. We have not been back but I feel guilty for not calling the Pastor about this.
    I know it’s not the same because the job and a friendship may be at stake but I’m certain there was either politics or racism involved in his choice of sermons.

    • choicelady says:

      Oh for crying out loud! Would seem to me if you do NOT like the president in office, you’d REALLY want to pray for him! This is beyond the pale. I know hundreds of progressive clergy who routinely prayed for the president during the last 8 years. Seems ridiculous they won’t pray for Obama. That is just partisanship, not faith.

    • Khirad says:

      Welcome, GirlOW. Are you particularly tied to the church? I could never attend such a conservative place, but realize there are other considerations.

      • GirlOutWest says:

        You know, I never really loved it but my husband grew up in the Lutheran Church so I’ve gone because he wanted to. I have volunteered there (Habitat) hoping to get to know them better but it didn’t pan out. I just don’t think we connected. There is a Church of Religious Science I thought I might try…hubby, probably not! We’ll see but I know I won’t go there.
        Again, not the same as Boomer, but I wish her well in this sticky situation.

    • SueInCa says:

      Welcome GirlOutWest, you will like it here.

    • boomer1949 says:

      Hello GirlOutWest!

      Thanks for your input and welcome to the Planet. I am sure you will like it here. It’s a cool place to be.

    • KQuark says:

      Welcome GOW good to see your contributions to the site.

    • AdLib says:

      Welcome GirlOutWest! Nice to have you on The Planet!

      Yes, in a work environment and with all the legal issues at play it is a much tougher situation to handle…if you have to see a person every day.

      It’s really a betrayal when someone is a leader and is given that kind of trust and acts in such a way.

      As for reacting, I generally will speak up in situations where someone makes a racist joke, an anti-semetic crack, etc. I find most people are shamed into silence.

      • GirlOutWest says:

        Thank you so much. I’ve been looking through the site…it’s very interesting and some of the people I enjoyed from HP are here. Nice.
        I think some of the “snark” from HP was rubbing off on me so it seems a wise move to distance myself for a while.

    • bitohistory says:

      Welcome to the Planet GirlOW. Hope you do enjoy it here. Howdy, Ma’am!

  8. PatsyT says:

    Boomer
    I thought of something else
    You may want to get a tape recorder
    Not that you use it but that may make you feel a little proactive

  9. Vituperation says:

    Well, I guess it depends on several things as you probably are aware of. The consequences of holding people accountable for their actions are not always predictable. Morally, you have an obligation to be true to yourself. Company policy? Yeah whatever. That’s going to be a slippery slope if you dare try it out. A lot of that crap in those policies is there “just because.” Actually try to get it into play and you’re going to find out just what the word “shit” really means.

    Okay, here’s what it comes down to IMHO
    You say you’re sans car and she’s being cool for giving you rides.
    You probably feel like you’d be betraying her for busting her. Moral conflict or selfishness? You have to decide what principal is at play here. Or, let me put it to you like this: do you mind walking or riding the bus or would you rather live with your conscience bothering you for enabling a moron? What is the price you’re paying to maintain your relationship with her and the company? Is payback going to be a piece of your soul? Seems like you’re already looking for a reason to rationalize your disapproval of her and her actions. But I see it going a step further by gathering even more reasons to dislike her. You realize that what she said about the president and what she listens to on the radio are two separate things and you are assuming one leads to another? That can be a big assumption and it is also judgmental. She may not have the right to make racial remarks at work but she can listen to whatever gasbag is on the radio. If you need to use that as some sort of evidence to build you case against her then I think your reaching too far.

    My gut reaction to your story fell completely on your side. I wanted to tell you to bust that bitch right here and now. I think a lot of us feel that way about it. However, if (IF) you can walk away from this and ask God for strength and tolerance you will retain your piece of mind and composure. You will be an example for your co-worker to follow. That takes more courage than simply being a whistle blower in this case. Yeah you’re right and she’s wrong. It’s not going to be the last time you’re going to have to make this call and moreover, it’s important to pick your battles wisely.

    You show great wisdom already by asking for help from other people.
    This also shows courage and humility. I think you’ve got what it takes to make the right decision.

    These are hard times for all of us.

    Peace

  10. AdLib says:

    As others have said, take all that’s here under consideration but make the decision that’s right for you. After all, you will be the one who has to live with the situation, not any of us.

  11. Tiger99 says:

    Boomer,
    AdLib has given you excellent advice in the matter and should be your first course of action…
    By singling this person out and if she didn’t mention his race outright (“the “N” should be lynched”) you could be creating a HR logistical headache for yourself… Proving this person had racial intent instead of political dissent could become difficult for you if no specific reference to the Presidents race was mentioned…

  12. PatsyT says:

    Boomer this is distracting you from your work, causing you stress,
    and affecting your productivity, thats not fair to you or the company.

    If you were to tell the people above her, (and I think you should)
    stress the above.
    You deserve a calm atmosphere at work.

    That is my Politicly correct answer …. but….

    Part of me wants to say
    start leaving pics a lynching at her desk with her face in the pic.
    Use stealth, do not get caught and be sure to be extra kind to her
    if she gets upset and talks to you about it saying —
    how could any human being wish that on any other human being?

    If that fails get the media involved
    This stuff should not go unanswered that is why it is still out there.
    You may want to mention
    I think it is a federal offense to make threats against our President

    You are brave to put in a post.
    This is tough to bring up, I know, I had family members that
    used the n word and such.
    I can only wonder if they know why they do this.
    They may think it gives them power, who knows, but it brings us
    all down if that is what is stirring around in someone’s head.

    Good luck with this keep us posted

    • Khirad says:

      I agree with the second part. I had similar schemes go through my mind as well. 😈

      What’s best about it? fully justified.

    • AdLib says:

      Patsy, I think it would be a very powerful approach but my concern would be such a person turning the tables and accusing Boomer of harassment.

      Since Boomer may be the most recent or only one she’s said this too, she may be the likeliest suspect.

      When dealing with situations like this, you have to be careful not to hand the other person ammunition to fire back at you.

      • PatsyT says:

        True AdLib,
        We always have to be above it, be careful, hold the head high.
        Even thought the other side can go off all day long
        even on the air ways and earn millions while doing it.

        Just had to put that out there because it came to mind.
        How would she (Annie) like it if it were her?

        Also what if she (Annie) is spreading this stuff to other employees?
        Would this company want to be know as a safe harbor for
        hate rhetoric?
        This woman is supposed to be a Supervisor.
        Can’t be good for business.

        Wouldn’t you say though, that it is Boomer that is being harassed?

        Boomer, it is easy for me or anyone to sit here and tell you what we
        think should happen.
        You have a good head on your shoulders and a good heart.
        I know you will find the right course of action even if it is no action at all.
        I would support anything that you find right, you are the one there.
        I hope it helps to talk it out here.

        As for Annie
        Having that hatred in you heart makes a person sick inside.
        That stress builds up toxins.
        She is already getting her just rewards.
        I wonder if they ever think of it that way.

      • Khirad says:

        I think that’s why Patsy prefaced that latter section with -- “part of me wants to say” 😉

  13. BigDogMom says:

    Boom, I see that your posting here, what do you think? All these suggestions should get you pointed in the right direction….for what’s best for you and what you are comfortable doing about this tricky sitituation.

    • boomer1949 says:

      BDM,

      I’m not sure what I’m going to do. I do know that if our President was white, she probably would never have made the comment. I also know that anyone with an ounce of education can put two and two together. Lynchings or a suggestion thereof is historically connected to racism.

      What started out to be a snippet I was going to add to Speaker’s Corner, turned into something else and I decided it should be an “in your face” (not you or anyone) kind of post.

      Nevertheless, and thank goodness my boss is traveling all week, I ended up spending the entire day on this. Of course it’s not a three-parter like marion’s, but I did want to make sure what I wrote was worthy of reading. :-)

      • BigDogMom says:

        Well boom I’m glad you posted this, it gets us all talking and sharing our experiences with this type of behavior and thinking about what we would, should or could do in this situation.

    • nellie says:

      Just be careful.

  14. Khirad says:

    I’m not much into company codes in the first place. It should be a matter of conscience. Me? You laid it down, and said what I would have -- to keep politics and religion separate. It’s just proper etiquette. Even without the car situation (been there), I’d give her a pass this time. A get out of jail free card, a fair warning and reminder of the code of conduct.

    Although, the tricky part is, are you the only one she could have said this to, and what happens if someone else lodged a report on her and others came forward. Would you be held culpable for not saying anything earlier? I think both ethically and practically a certain measure should be taken that this was wrong.

    • boomer1949 says:

      I do believe the tricky part is absolutely true, so it’s a sticky wicket.

      Something I can’t figure out though…we have people of color in our office…and she socializes with them.

      • Khirad says:

        Would it be passing the buck or unethical to tell the black coworkers? Could be incredibly awkward, how do you bring that up?! But, I think it would be more powerful for them to tell her why that was not right. It might also be more reason to report it. I don’t know how much she socializes with them -- how genuine it is.

        Maybe she listens to so much Rush she really believes ‘lyching’ is irreverently metaphorical (even though it isn’t, not any more than Holocaust references are), maybe she’s secretly or at least latently racist -- they are able to mix with black people then go off when you’re alone with them. I’ve seen it many a time.


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