Taking it Too Far?

By Diana Cihak

shutterstock_1042637278The MeToo movement, TimesUp, the Blue Wave.  All of these are part of the pushback to the Pandora’s box that the Trump administration has unleashed on the world.  These little furies of racism, misogyny and deep hate that are now flying free have to be contained somehow.  And so those of us directly affected, or who love those who are, feel a need to do something.  We band together, we rise up, we fight.

But at what cost?  Two articles in the NY Times this Sunday have me deeply concerned.  Both appeared in the business section and focused on two major industries – tech and the entertainment industry.

In tech, the question has become – will tech save us or be our ultimate downfall?  The discussion with the head of Google, Sundar Pichai, was a continuation of other recent articles about how tech is creating means to control how humans behave.  Its purposeful and there is an increasing awareness amongst the tech community of the downside to the great success they have had.

Pichai said:

 “Technology doesn’t solve humanity’s problems. It was always naïve to think so. Technology is an enabler, but humanity has to deal with humanity’s problems. I think we’re both over-reliant on technology as a way to solve things and probably, at this moment, over-indexing on technology as a source of all problems, too.”  NYT

The second article was about Hollywood and the success of the MeToo and TimesUp movements and the backlash that is hidden just under the surface.  There is an uneasiness in Tinseltown about to navigate the new normal and a festering resentment by the white males who have held absolute power for so many years.

And of course I was saying to myself, “well, it’s about time and we have to clean this mess up and move on.”

But then the author mentioned that the possibility of using a type of morality test for employment was being considered.  In other words if someone said something inappropriate in any forum they were out.

“Companies are looking for protection, too. Multiple studios are working to include morality clauses in their talent contracts. Some unions prohibit such provisos, but where possible, Fox is considering language stipulating that it can fire anyone whose conduct “results in adverse publicity or notoriety or risks bringing the talent into public disrepute, contempt, scandal or ridicule.” NYT

I froze.  Literally.  Threw the paper down and walked away.

Because we need to be very careful of that tightrope right now.  Yes, we want the racism and sexism to stop.  And so much of that is revealed in the words that people use.

But at the same time do we want to advocate for a type of moral purity?  Morality, being completely subjective, is a slippery slope that could lead us directly into the Pence fantasy of women dressed in colors to denote their purpose in a man’s world – red for the breeders, brown for the domestic help and green for those who are morally pure enough to marry.

Back to Pichair again:

“There are areas where society clearly agrees what is O.K. and not O.K., and then there are areas where it is hard as a society to draw the line. What is the difference between freedom of speech on something where you feel you’re being discriminated against by another group, versus hate speech?”  NYT

Hate speech, misogyny, sexism and racism…  none of it is acceptable, but at what point do we add a morality test?

So I ask us all– let’s be mindful as we move forward.  In demanding equality and the end to all forms of discrimination we need to make sure that what we are asking for is what we truly want.  We need to be very careful that we don’t open our own Pandora’s box.


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