I need to revise a posting I made last fall on the lack of civil discourse in this country. Civil discourse is no longer an endangered species. It is extinct. I thought in October 2017, that civil discourse had reached an all-time low in this country. I’m sorry to say that I was wrong.
During a broadcast on MSNBC on Friday, 11 May 2018, in reference to Sarah Sanders, Nicolle Wallace asked NBC White House reporter Kristen Welker, “How do you resist the temptation to run up and wring her neck? Why can’t she just say, ‘If a staffer said that, we’re going to get to the bottom of it and she’ll be fired?’” Calling for the WH press secretary to publicly try, convict, and punish a employee before the proper steps have been taken to address the behavior is ill advised and puts us on a very slippery slope. Leaders and professionals try to avoid that slope.
Let me first say that bad behavior is bad behavior. Those who engage in bad behavior must be held accountable for their conduct. No equivocation here. If there is a factual basis (complying with EEOC policies, rules, and regulations) for disciplining the staff member for the comment regarding Senator McCain, discipline should be implemented for poor judgment and unprofessional conduct. KEY POINT – an individual who uses his/her position to publicly advocate the use of violence against another individual also needs be disciplined, again for poor judgment and unprofessional conduct. To discipline someone in the first scenario but not the second runs the risk of a serious decline in professional standards and ethics that can only lead us to a very negative place and I don’t care what field or profession we’re talking about, nor the political party to which a person belongs or follows. Double standards are never good and double standards that advocate violence against a group of people or an individual can never be accepted in civilized society. Ethical conduct and leadership cannot tolerate such double standards.
All those in public life have an obligation to uphold the highest standards for professional conduct. Our professions and our leadership positions demand nothing less from each of us.