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A plea for sanity

A local celebrity finally says "enough"

In case you missed the headlines, Don Marsh, host of NPR’s St. Louis on the Air, summarily quit his job last week. The 80-year-old local celebrity broke the rules of propriety when he greeted a 75-year-old female colleague with the sexually exploitative remark, “You look great.”

Mr. Marsh found himself called on the carpet by a manager who asserted that the show-host’s comment was “right on the line.” To his credit, Mr. Marsh responded with exactly the right message in exactly the right tone: “That’s it,” he said, “I’m done.”

Of course, it’s important to ensure a safe and secure in the workplace. But overreaction against predatory sexism is just as dangerous.

When a culture of fear overtakes common sense, when thought-police lurk around every corner, work environments turn so toxic that collegial relationships become untenable. Morale plummets and, with it, productivity.

When casual conversation cannot be casual, when every word is scrutinized for all possible meanings, nuances, and innuendos, public discourse devolves to the grunting and pointing of Neanderthals. Do we really want to live in a society bereft of wit and banter and congenial good will?

We need perspective, maturity, and a sense of humor. We need to save our chastisement and grievance for incidents that are truly grievous rather than fabricating offenses where none were given or intended.

So kudos to Don Marsh. Perhaps his example will move the needle back a few ticks in the direction of rationality and ethical clarity. We can only hope.

For a sane approach to maintaining propriety in the workplace, I offer a short primer here.

Photo via Max Pixel

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