A Letter to Mr. Cameron:
Mr. Cameron, I read with interest your article on Feb. 2, 2018 regarding your epiphany that you have been a perpetrator of sexual harassment by today’s definitions. Frankly, your confession was both perplexing and infuriating.
As someone who sometimes administers investigations under Title VII, I agree that I have seen accusations that did not stand as representation of serious wrongdoing, as well as events that supported harassment claims most egregiously. Typically, we are evaluating whether patterns of behavior exist or an event transpired so significantly that it represents a direct request for an exchange of one thing for another. Some occurrences rise to the level of policy or legal violation and some absolutely do not. While the national dialogue surrounding sexual harassment has been long overdue, I know no one calling for the end to all compliments.
I implore you yourself to evaluate your suggested context, as I do not think your article represented reasonable context in this national dialogue. The insinuation that the men and women who are calling this country to action over serious claims of oppression, discrimination and even assault are called so over a simple compliment to a friend is ludicrous. Your misguided example and confession are part of the problem.
The discourse is not to implore our country to stop innocuous compliments or the generalized niceties of a well-intentioned friendship or business relationship. They are asking for a fair opportunity for all people to have a safe work environment, classroom or community filled with respect and dignity, and a place where expressed boundaries are honored. Please do not represent them as if they have no ability to interpret the difference between a simple compliment and the desire to maliciously steal someone’s confidence or self-worth. Trust those of us entrusted with evaluative responsibilities to have common sense.
As we learned in kindergarten, it isn’t just what you say; it is how you say it. Let’s give the population a little credit for their ability to discern the differences. In 2018, if you personally cannot, then yes, it might be best that you indeed keep your compliments and your viewpoints to yourself.
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Colleen McGruder is a Coeur d’Alene resident