Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Hostile Environment Law and Correct Speech - Signs of Rebellion?

I don't know if it's a new phenomenon or one I am just beginning to notice, but there does seem to be a growing "push back" to what many might call the excesses of political correctness stemming from the desire to avoid being sued over a hostile environment. David Bernstein, George Mason University professor of law and author of a new book, You Can't Say That! The Growing Threat to Civil Liberties from Antidiscrimination Laws, provides an excerpt of his book in a column for Tech Central Station, "Isn't That Fascism? No, Because We Don't Call It Fascism." That quote, taken from an episode of South Park, no less, sums up at least one perspective:
After a visit from the "Sexual Harassment Panda," the children of South Park begin to sue each other for harassment over minor insults. Eventually, the children pursue deeper pockets, the school at which these insults take place. The school is bankrupted, while Kyle's attorney father, who represents all of the plaintiffs, becomes wealthy. This leads to the following exchange:

Father: You see, son, we live in a liberal democratic society. The Democrats [sic -- it was a mostly Republican EEOC and Supreme Court] created sexual harassment law, which tells us what we can and cannot say in the workplace, and what we can and cannot do in the workplace.

Kyle: But isn't that fascism?

Father: No, because we don't call it fascism.

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