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24 June 2005 @ 06:59 pm
What's the big deal?  
I had a surreal exchange with a manager in our company over my objections to a joke about Jews and bacon cheeseburgers. I am pretty sensitive to ethnic, religious, sexist, or racist humor. I don't think it has any place in a work environment. We have this new employee who probably is well intentioned and simply doesn't understand how this joke is received by others. He probably heard it somewhere, thought it was funny, and doesn't imagine that someone's feelings might be hurt by it. I wasn't asking that he be officially reprimanded, just kindly asked not to keep repeating it--after his second repetition.

Because I am not Jewish, my objection wasn't given much weight and instead, a Jewish coworker was consulted. Now, perhaps he doesn't mind becoming the token representative on staff, I don't know, but it would bother me. He didn't mind the joke himself. Great, so then my objection to it was being cast as hypersensitive and even (yes, this word was used) oppressive.

My own manager, co-owner of the company, is out of town so I couldn't just mention it to her although I did blind cc her so she could be aware of the situation.

After several email exchanges, finally the manager was willing to simply pass on the word that one person found it offensive and please don't do it again, no big deal. But getting there was really difficult and strained and I couldn't understand--why the huge resistance?

I also couldn't see why I would only be taken seriously if I myself were Jewish. Do I have to be a member of the target group to be offended? Or to have that offense taken seriously?

The area of law covering the workplace environment is fairly gray, and employers and employees are kind of left not knowing where to draw the line and often bending over backwards to avoid running afoul of it. I don't advocate that we all tiptoe around each other, afraid to utter a word. But when a co-worker is uneasy about something, it's not a bad idea to simply refrain from doing or saying whatever it is as long as that's not a hardship. I didn't see how avoiding one joke would create an undue burden for my co-worker, and I felt it could be presented to him in a way that didn't hurt his feelings or make him feel targeted or on trial. In fact, I suspect he's a basically kind person who wouldn't want to continue offending others with his joke. He just needed to know that it could be offensive to some.

Otherwise I've had a long, tiring week in the midst of which my car had problems and I had to get nearly five hundred bucks worth of work done to it. I am so ready for this weekend.

I also got my mammogram out of the way today. Am I the only woman who views the machinery bearing down with some dread, wondering if it's going to stop or malfunction and keep pressing?

I don't worry about breast cancer for some reason. Sure, I know it could strike me, and my weight and age are two risk factors. I guess with heart disease looming over me for so long, and finally being diagnosed with it, I don't have energy left over for worrying about all the other ailments or accidents that could kill me. Sometimes I think it would be almost refreshing to die from something else. If I got a diagnosis of breast cancer, I think I'd just look up at the heavens and say, "Why not just send a heart attack? Isn't that enough?"

Then again, I know of someone with heart disease who then got cancer and that's what killed her, so I know it's possible. I just can't waste my time worrying about it.

I'm off to start my weekend.
 
 
Current Mood: frustratedfrustrated
Current Music: Dave Matthews Band