Well, I suppose it had to happen. After eleven years of teaching at a public university, I finally got a call from one of my superiors informing me that I had made one of my co-workers feel ?uncomfortable? in the workplace. For those who may not know, the right to feel ?comfortable? at all times trumps the First Amendment at most public universities.
Naturally, when I found out that I made a co-worker feel ?uncomfortable,? I wanted to know what I had said or done to produce such an unthinkable result. That was when I learned that the ?discomfort? occurred because I had been discussing some of my weekly columns here in the workplace (i.e., at the public university). The penalty for that transgression was simple: a ban on discussing my columns in the office in front of those who might be offended by my opinions. This was accompanied by the shocking revelation that ?not everyone sees things the way you do, Mike.?
When it first hit me that while in the office I could no longer talk about gay rights, feminism, religion, Darwinism, affirmative action, or any issue I discuss in my column, I was outraged. In fact, I got so mad that I raised my voice before storming out of my superior?s office. I never thought that the right of each university employee to feel comfortable at all times would ever actually be enforced against me here in the workplace (a.k.a., the public university).
But after I thought about it for a while, my anger turned to elation. Surely, the power to trump the First Amendment rights of others in response to ?discomfort? is available to all employees, not just a select few. Since that must be the case (because our public university is committed to equality), I decided to make a list of every situation I had encountered at UNC-Wilmington where I felt ?uncomfortable.?
Armed with such a list, university administrators can now identify and silence the responsible parties, and I can enjoy the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of unmitigated comfort. The following list isn?t yet complete, but I thought that I would share some highlights since I?m not allowed to talk to anyone in the office (here at the public university) about these issues:
*My first year at UNCW, a faculty member in our department objected to a job candidate because he was ?a little too white male.? Such comments make me feel really uncomfortable, being a white guy and all that.
*My second year at UNCW we removed a white woman from our interview pool in order to make room for a black woman. When the university forced me to discriminate on the basis of race, I felt really uncomfortable.