The Last 'Acceptable' Prejudice

Geoff Smith Portrait

BY Geoff Smith

POSTED ON DECEMBER 3, 2012

SHARE

I write a monthly message on EllisDon's intranet Portal, which is sometimes the same, but also frequently different than my 'blog'. I posted the message below today on our Portal, to all EllisDon's employees, but thought it might be worthwhile posting as a blog as well. It's an issue that's been bothering me a lot. Thanks for reading.

Everybody knows this, but since it goes on and on, I've decided to write about it.

There was a time in society when it was acceptable to make racist comments based on skin colour or ethnic origin. I should be careful I guess, but it seems to me that such ugliness is reasonably rare now. In fact, I think younger people today are 'post racial' in a way we aging baby boomers can't ever be.

And when I was growing up, I commonly heard anti-Semitic comments and other religious bigotry, mostly from older people. Again, I don't want to generalize, but I will say that I can't remember the last time I heard such a comment, seriously or in jest.

But I can remember the last time I heard the word derogatory insult 'fag', because it was last week. I hear the phrase 'that's so gay' way too often, and I never need to hear another 'Brokeback' reference the rest of my life.

It remains socially acceptable - when in fact it is very offensive - partly because people like me quietly tolerate those comments. That's my fault and maybe yours too. Obviously, every person has close relatives and friends who are members of the LGBT community whether they acknowledge it or not, or is a member him/herself. (Which is hardly the point, to be sure, but it does make one wonder.)

At EllisDon, of course, we welcome everyone, as does virtually every company. And I suspect that such comments are sometimes more thoughtless or even careless than reflective of real bigotry. But our language and our behavior at EllisDon has to reflect our values of tolerance and openness - all day, every day. Let us get rid of this language and these comments forever. I insist. Seriously: I insist.