Am I Insensitive?

insensitiveI need your opinion. I was confronted with a situation recently and want to know if you think I was wrong, and was being insensitive. I am especially interested in the opinions of my more liberal friends and relatives. At least the ones who have not “de-friended” me because they don’t want to hear my opinions.

I was at a local microbrewery that had a food truck outside. As we sallied up to order at the one of the windows, the proprietor, a bohemian-looking young man with a friendly smile and goatee called out the window for “Ashley”. He looked at me with a smile and asked if I was Ashley. I laughed and said, “well, no, today I am identifying as a male”. He was obviously shocked and appalled, and as his smile disappeared, he very gravely said “oh, we shouldn’t talk about that”. I smiled, and as he said he would meet us at the other window to finish the order, I laughed and told him I would be the same person at the other window. Well, he took our money willingly, but his body language told me he did not like me very much!

So, was I being insensitive? Should I have not responded in that way? I thought it was funny, and meant it as a joke. Just as he asking me if I was Ashley was meant as a joke, since he was smiling and laughing as he asked me. He obviously was offended by my retort, and wanted to shut me down immediately. Maybe he thought I was being flippant about the topic, or maybe he just did not want to get into a conversation about it. I don’t really know.

For full disclosure, your sexual orientation does not matter to me. I try to find the good in everyone. Everyone is a child of God. We are all just trying to find our path, and each of us have to do that ourselves and in our own way.

For those who feel I was insensitive in my response, what about his opening question asking me if I was Ashley? I thought it was funny, and was of course not offended. Can you imagine that maybe someone could possibly have been offended by his question? Maybe I should have immediately responded with “I take offense to you asking if I am Ashley. I am a full-blooded American male, can bench press 350 lbs., and am obviously not a girl. I don’t think we should talk about this.” Or maybe I looked like a male, but was going through some internal strife about who I was and his question triggered a negative emotion.

Ah, but his opening question was different, right? That question is socially acceptable I suppose. I would contend this is the double standard that is the point of my argument. We have got so wrapped up in this politically correct culture that we have no way to talk to each other about our differences. Everyone is offended by anything that might be viewed as a “micro-aggression”. I for one think it is ridiculous.

To a large degree, I think the current political environment illustrates the divide. There are some of us who think the pendulum has swung way too far to one side, and we are now living in a one-sided politically correct world where you have to watch whatever you say to make sure you are not offending someone. I obviously crossed that line. I am skeptical this is going to change any time soon. Meanwhile, our real problems go un-resolved as we tie ourselves up in knots over what bathrooms to use.

Jeff Groh is a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. He believes more often than not, both sides of the political spectrum actually agree on the ends, but it is the means that fuel disagreements, with the far right and left resorting to name-calling rather than a pursuing a rational debate on the issues, trade-offs and unintended consequences. His consulting company, New Product Visions, helps companies improve their innovation management practices, and he is passionate about the creation of economic value and prosperity by restoring our country’s manufacturing base. Want to email me? jgroh@newproductvisions.com

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Am I Insensitive?

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