British Businesses Are Urged to Curtail Male 'Football Banter' At Work

P. Gardner Goldsmith | January 30, 2020
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Neither the original, British, version of “The Office”, nor its American counterpart could compare to this.

The “inclusivity-minded”, social-justice-sensitive head of the Chartered Management Institute – a non-governmental professional organization located about an hour’s drive north of Liverpool, England – just told BBC Radio listeners that UK business owners should crack down on male “football banter” in the office.

Because, of course, it’s not sensitive to women. Those would be… women we’re constantly told are just as tough and rugged and capable as men, but who, according to this new wrinkle in the nasty face of sexual politics, simply don’t dig sports and can’t stomach men chatting about them.

Don’t bother trying to navigate that self-righteous, contradictory minefield, because it will get you nowhere.

As that tax-funded entertainment and “news” monolith, the BBC, reports, CMI chief Ann Francke told BBC4 Radio’s “Today” that male “football (soccer) chat” can be exclusionary to females.

A lot of women, in particular, feel left out… They don't follow those sports and they don't like either being forced to talk about them or not being included.

So, rather than allowing employees to enjoy some light “water-cooler” banter with friends, it’s recommended that bosses crack down and ensure everyone chat about something they share in common.

Perhaps the subject of overly-sensitive “professional experts” extolling the virtues of censorship in every aspect of life might be the most common theme…

Ahh, but, lest one become alarmed by such errant busybodyism, Ms. Francke isn’t calling for an outright ban – either from the government, or to be imposed by bosses. She merely wants “curtailment”, through monitoring and in-office policy enforcement.

‘It's a gateway to more laddish behaviour and - if it just goes unchecked - it's a signal of a more laddish culture,’ she said.

God forbid men engage in laddish behaviour (to spell it in the British fashion), or that there might possibly be room for a “more laddish culture.”

God forbid anyone notice that the tired saw of “inclusivity” is, as always, highly antagonistic towards “including” anything to do with men, individuality, meritocracy, or true diversity – and that it’s midnight-blind to its own double-standards.

As with all so-called “identity politics”, the purveyor here makes broad assumptions about men’s and women’s interests, and she projects those assumptions nationwide, across the whole of British society.

Sure, one can take offense to “crude behaviour” (again, being British for a moment), and anyone who has visited England understands the term “laddish” to be synonymous with crudity. But in the world of identity politics, isn’t that, itself, an attack on “lads” who might prefer to be crude, or “identify” as crude, or might come from some “protected class” that has “crudeness” as part of its culture?

Fortunately, Ms. Francke’s organization is not connected with the British or local governments, so her suggestions are only those, and people are free to adopt them to their detriment or benefit. Any office needs parameters about behavior (sorry, spelled it like an American, there), and there’s a give-and-take relationship between what an employer might dictate for office efficiency and office camaraderie, a spectrum of accepted activities that vary from place to place. Employers should be free to set their rules, and employees should be free to accept or deny a job.

But Ms. Francke’s position is indicative of a pervasive, “mother hen” mentality in favor of policing peaceful voluntary human interaction that has held sway for far too long in the West. One cannot say whether it’s mostly tiresome -- because it’s been around for decades -- or it’s mostly alarming -- because of its attitude towards free speech and freedom of association – but it’s a bad combination of the two, and it’s predicated on a lack of respect for individual choice and freedom, which, itself, is based on a belief that certain people are weak.

The weakness resides in those who would police the speech of their neighbors and think nothing of it, who would simultaneously stand for “women” while implying women are so frail they can’t handle people talking about things they might not find interesting, who would assume for others what they find interesting or uninteresting in the first place.

Sadly, it was not too far from the headquarters of the Chartered Management Institute that Scottish philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote his 19th Century treatise, “On Liberty”. In it, Mill explained that other philosophers had already debated the nature of the state and various forms of government. He acknowledged that most Western nations had established forms of “constitutional” states, with written “barriers” as to what the state could and could not do to subjects.

But Mill warned that he was noticing trends in the societies of these nations, trends that indicated people were quite ready to stanch the free flow of their neighbors’ speech and other liberties. He extolled the virtues of free speech not only because it allowed people to speech “truth to power”, but because free speech and even incorrect speech were fundamentally necessary for people to debate and discover truth, to hone their own arguments and grow.

It seems that more than 100 years later, many Brits have not learned what Mill tried to tech them.

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