Friday, June 4, 2010

Political Correctness

When did it become acceptable in society to lie to each other under the guise of being "Politically Correct?" It seems we have all become so oversensitive to the words of others that we all walk on eggshells and skirt the truth for fear of offending someone. When cops do it to other cops, it creates anger and distrust. When management does it to their subordinates it leads to low morale and dissension. The bottom line is cops can smell the BS before the delivery is complete.

So why does management continually feel the need to employ the "Politically Correct" answers when every cop with a year on the job can see right through them? Politically correct people are generally your self righteous suck-ups who have nothing better to do than make sure everyone knows how 'caring' and 'thoughtful' they are by being overly polite when it is not necessary.

Consequentialism refers to those moral theories which hold that the consequences of a particular action form the basis for any valid moral judgment about that action. In the case of the mayor, who would rather fuel the lies and misrepresentations of those political hot topics, he made a moral judgement that is was OK to lie if the end was getting himself elected to office. There were no consequences for the lies, but telling the truth could possibly result in his not being elected. So he lied and was proud of it.

When someone lives for others, he is often considered, "Altruistic." Altruism is an ethical doctrine that holds that individuals have a moral obligation to help, serve, or benefit others, if necessary at the sacrifice of self interest. Most of us in law enforcement could be considered altruistic by nature and maintain a high level of ethics and morals. But something happens as we climb the ladder and ascend into the management ranks. Political correctness begins to take hold and those ethics and morals we entered the job with seem to wane. Those holding management positions will often say, "You don't understand." We often say, "You have forgotten from where you came." It has become a sad commentary to where we are today.

I said to the mayor when he was seeking election to his first term of office, that his willingness to lie and continue the misinformation and half truths about employee benefits, was what was wrong with politics and politicians. It is what is wrong with society; the willingness to allow such behaviour. But why do we allow it in our profession? Why do we as a group succumb to the political correctness of dealing with issues and people? How did we move so far from honest, straightforward talk?

Holding people accountable requires honest, straight, frank talk. Yet we have watered down the processes and refused to allow for this type of discussion. We became a fragile group who could not handle the truth. When change is desired by management, they tend to struggle with the delivery of why. In reality "Why" does not matter, but if they are going to give a reason, it should be real, honest and straight forward. We can see through the BS and it simply angers and creates disgruntled employees when the politically correct reason is provided over the truth. This is compounded when three members of management deliver three reasons for change, none of which resemble the other.

I have often said, "It is not what is done, but how it was done." We may not like the change of whatever is taking place, but we can accept it and move on if we are part of the consideration for the change and the communication is honest. That honesty requires a different level of communication that needs to be free of the political correctness that has crept into virtually every conversation. The social norm for police management is to take the politically correct avenue, normally the easy way out, to avoid conflict. This is creating a divide and an "us" versus "them" attitude. When those vying for promotion are more concerned with "ME" and how "ME" looks or is perceived, we are all losers. We have lost the "Altruistic Value" that made us special.

We must demand honest conversation in everything we do. Political correctness has no place in government or law enforcement. Do not mistake political correctness with being a caring individual or showing compassion for the feelings of others. We need to learn how to look each other in the eyes when we talk and to be honest with our words. We also need our words to match our actions. We will all be better for it and only then can we begin to grow as an organization. 

10 comments:

James said...

Well said as usual Sparky. Its been interesting this past week when people approached me to say its too bad you didn't make lieutenant again. I tell them I didn't take the test this time and I get a puzzled look.

I have lost the willingness to play the political correctness game in the interest of getting promoted. It became clear to me that I was not going to be the type of person the Chief was looking to promote because I still beleive in straight talk. Its the way I was raised and its the leadership style I was taught as I came up in the department over the past 25 years.

So I will happily retire as a sergeant who held onto my morals and beliefs and tried my best to be a leader that my subordinates respect. You are so right in that the POI's, POII's and detectives see through the B.S. and much prefer to hear the truth from their supervisors.

Content and Proud said...

Welcome back Sparky. You have not lost your touch. I also did not take a promotional test again and never will. I am content to finish my career in the position I am in. I refuse to play the political correctness game that is required on this department. There is not a chief on the 7th floor I would give two cents for. A couple of them were fine people before they rose to the level they are at now. JUST LIKE YOU SAID... they have forgotten from where they came. SHAME ON THEM!!!

Keep your head high Steve. We all feel your pain and understand. You have many more supporters than you realize.

26 years and counting said...

Steve do you really think anyone cares? You said yourself you are that guy at 4th and Broadway yelling at everyone. The command staff could care less about you or anyone else for that matter. They care about themselves and no one else. They will mess with you until the day you finally wise up and retire.

Wise up dude and get out of here. It's a lost cause and you are killing yourself for nothing.

Past has been Forgotten said...

As usual you are right on, Sparky. As said before, at one time this department produced leaders but after Lansdowne landed here it has changed. This department now produces 'followers' not leaders. Folowwers that are unable to challenge him; therefore, he promotes them. The leadership of this department is abysmal and embarassing.

Fed Up Manager said...

Steve, I wanted to take a moment and say "Thank You" for everything you have done for me and the rest of the police officers on the San Diego Police Department. While i have not always agreed with you on things, I know your heart and soul was always "MEMBER FIRST" in everything you did. We fail to say thanks to those who are willing to put themselves out there for our benefit. You place a target on your back and we all take shots at you because human nature is to blame someone else for our problems.

You have always been a stand up guy and willing to speak when everyone else refuses. You were always willing to take on the fight when everyone else would hide in the shadows in hopes you won. You were in many ways the voice we all wanted to be but refused because we did not want to have happen to us that happened to you over the years.

I almost choked when I heard you were being transferred to Internal Affairs. How could you do that after being such an advocate for us for so many years. You made us all proud and were able to perform at a level none of use expected. I beg anyone to point to someone who came through the doors of Internal Affairs who could say Sergeant Steve McMillan did not treat them with the utmost of respect and diligently and professionally investigated their case. You built a reputation for being fair, even handed, thorough and most of all compassionate. caring and professional.

You have always refused to play the political games to get ahead. You no doubt left a mark on Internal Affairs in a very positive manner and the members of the department are grateful.

I played the political game for many years and rose to a management position and with little time left to make it to the next level, I am at that place in my career I am content to finish at the rank I am. I am not willing as you said to give up my integrity, morals and ethics to reach that next level. I do not like what I see in the upper ranks of this department. Too many willing to say "YES" when the real answer is "NO".

You can stand tall and finish your career with the knowledge you are appreciated and respected by many more than you know. That includes those in the management ranks below the chief's office. Those are the people who matter most anyway.

I would urge others to seek Steve out and tell him thank you. He has earned it and we owe it to him to tell him so.

Anonymous said...

Stetz's column in the paper today was all about you. It was almost funny to read him refer to you as "one of the little guys" taking on him, "one of the big guys." and then I finished reading his column that had at least 4 major grammar errors....what a dork.

Two Years Twenty Days said...

Looks like people are paying attention as much as they all want to downplay your BLOG. Stetz sure didn't offer much in his little piece this morning. It is almost as if he is trying to flush out the anonymous blogger, not spotlight or take you on.

Maybe he isn't as dumb as we all think he is?

Still enjoy reading you words Sparky. Hang in there and keep a stiff upper lip. We all appreciate your efforts. Screw the 7th floor. The proved long ago they could care less about any of us.

Anonymous said...

No offense Sparky, but when a columnist in the region's only major newspaper writes about you and another blogger everyone needs to wonder why.

While it's true you write about things that are worthwhile, for the UT to dedicate several column inches of space indicates, to me, Stetz is void of original ideas or thought. Who cares what he thinks?

The title of his rant, "Signed blogs carry more credibility" is nonsense and a swipe by a writer desperate to defend his own work from criticism. And, if I may add, criticism that's been right on the mark.

Stetz shows us his inflated ego. He calls himself one of the big guys, LOL...a big guy. Come on Michael here's a scoop for you just in case you missed it. You write a column for a newspaper on the brink of bankruptcy, and a staff decimated over the last year. Those who've remain cling to jobs while the readership dwindles forcing management to count readers who rescue discarded copies from
the trash and others who use it as a cage liner for their pets. Your columns, when they are published, would be described by most serious journalist as soft or fluff. When was the last time you had an original idea and wrote about that? You fail to take consistent positions, one where readers will associate with you and get behind what you're saying. You're a dandelion in the wind, changing direction a moments notice on whims of others. In other words your integrity is suspect.

Sparky on the other hand has been consistent. His message has been on point and concise. While in the past sometime I suppose its been a bit rough around the edges, it's been passionate. But most of all it's the truth.

If more of you so-called "big guys" got back to reporting the truth, you know back the roots of journalism's mission, then maybe, just maybe, you'd earn back the respect you once had.

Mike said...

Well said Sparky...I've spewed the same line for years but nobody would listen. When we got a new LT at my command a few years back, he actually asked me for advice. I told him "you can't bullshit the bullshitters so don't even try"... implying that street cops know when you're spewing BS.

Please! said...

Sparky, where are you???? Don't give up...