Rules of interaction are changing daily

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Joe Biden sexual sensitivity roller coaster is gaining steam just about the time his poll numbers are starting to spike.

Don’t, for a moment, think this is a coincidence.

Creepy Uncle Joe is working overtime defending his interaction with women in the past. And what we are learning should serve as a lesson in the over-sensitizing of an innocent act.

Joe Biden is a touchy-feely kinda guy. His brand of charm involves hugging and, on occasion, smooching members of the opposite sex.

But in today’s hyper-sensitive culture, what was once innocent is now labeled as lecherous behavior in the era of #MeToo.

Poor Joe comes from another generation. I truly believe he means absolutely no harm.

What Biden forgets is that he is about to join a crowded field of Democratic Presidential hopefuls. And entering that arena puts a bullseye on his back.

There is no longer a difference between highly inappropriate sexual contact and the innocent actions of an elderly man.

Someone forgot to remind Joe that times have changed and that we have adopted new “no-go zones” when it comes to our dealings with the opposite sex.

But over-sensitivity is not isolated to a Presidential candidate. Far from it.

A mini-drama unfolded in St. Louis this week when a longtime host of St. Louis Public Radio quit his job over the most innocent comment imaginable.

Don Marsh, the 80 year-old host of a popular radio program, was interviewing a retired female television anchor. Prior to the on-air interview, Marsh greeted his 75-year-old guest and told her “she looked great.”

The guest, Karen Foss, later said she accepted the greeting as a “common way for those of us who are aged to greet each other.”

She later added, “As a woman who has long argued for the equitable treatment of women, I am alert to sexism and discrimination and I sensed none of that in his greeting.”

But that didn’t stop the radio management from meeting with Marsh after someone complained that his off-air remark was inappropriate.

Well, kudos to Marsh.

When told his remarks were “right on the edge” of being inappropriate, Marsh said, “That’s it. I’m done.” And walked.

The now-resigned radio personality said he was humiliated that someone, anyone, would take his remark as sexist.

He said that many people feel our culture of over-sensitivity was “out of control.”

It’s easy to point to these two examples as “generational” insensitivity but it goes far beyond a simple explanation.

Today we live in an era where the rules of interaction are changing on a daily basis. And subjective not objective evaluations are made on behavior that has always been viewed as innocent and, in some cases, downright gentlemanly.

No longer are compliments always seen as complimentary. We are forced to be vigilant for actions previously deemed as innocent.

When we lump Joe Biden and Don Marsh into the same category as Harvey Weinstein or the others caught in the #MeToo web, we do a great disservice to those who mean no disrespect and hold no ulterior motives.

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