I am continually amazed by the wacky things people say. Not just everyday folks, but people who are…theoretically…used to talking in public and to the press.
The landscape is littered with examples. One can attribute these remarks to:
- A failure to engage the brain prior to the mouth.
- A desire to create a reaction or foster an image.
- A sincere belief in what s/he has said.
Here’s a recent example, resulting from the resignation of Norwood Teague, Athletic Director at the University of Minnesota. Teague acknowledged sending inappropriate texts, making sexual comments and acting inappropriately with female employees of the University. At a subsequent news conference, University President Eric Kaler (who had hired Teague) said, “I view this as the action of one man who was overserved and a series of bad events happened.”
Overserved? Kaler seemed to be implying that Teague wasn’t accountable for his actions. Rather, some nefarious bartender was the cause of all Teague’s bad behavior. Or…as has become clear as more women come forward…several nefarious bartenders. Poor Norwood, such bad luck.
So, President Kaler, which of the above explanations should we use?
- #1: You just aren’t very good at thinking before you speak, despite having conducted numerous news conferences and having talked to countless individuals and groups. Your skills at public speaking surely must be well-honed, at least as far as understanding that your words have import, have implications and will be scrutinized.
- #2: Perhaps you were hoping to portray your hire as a victim, or a poor guy who made mistakes while under the influence, with the hope of generating sympathy for Teague and deflecting ill feelings toward the University…not to mention the man who hired this particular fella.
- #3: The most frightening of all: that you really believe that a man who drinks too much (often in work-related functions) and then acts inappropriately toward women is not responsible for his actions. Is it your position that it is the alcohol and its servers that should be held to account? And that it would be okay if Teague had acted inappropriately while sober?
I have no way to know what’s true. As improbable as it seems, I want to believe it’s #1.
Today’s Fact Cetera
A recent survey found that 1 in 3 women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.