Sunday, June 05, 2022

Woke Ideology, or Fear of Lawsuit?

Conservative sites are fond of bringing up examples of academics or government officials making statements that would have been greeted with suspicious looks (or shrugs) just a decade ago, and the focus is on the culture war aspect of "theses people believe crazy and dangerous things." Having worked for a government agency which is always on the edge of where culture might be going, I wonder if another force is more powerful. There might be the warning "you might be sued," but frankly, I don't think they care about that anywhere near as much as WE might be sued. What they believe in their heart of hearts may not be the issue for them, but protecting the nest. We might think it contemptible when there is some philosophical or even moral issue on the table, but it is at least concern for something larger than oneself, some attachment to the jobs and reputations and ability to accomplish something of the people around them.

Yes, certainly, "let's not be sued" can be selfish or pusillanimous or blinkered as an overall philosophy of life, but it's not a bad guideline to keep along with the others. Let's keep the babies fed and the products moving and the bankruptcies at a minimum.  Wokeness, then, may be as much a product of the multiplication of administrators bustling about keeping everyone from doing things that will put us on the 6 O'clock News. We can blame it on having too many lawyers, but our lawyers are often there to protect us from our own poor judgement. Things that look right to us at first thought might contain injustices and negligences we had not considered. Son #5 in the Army Reserves said a few years ago "Half our trainings are basically 'Please don't rape anybody,' plus a bad instructional film." Well, there were reasons for that, and they made the news. That's often where careers end. That the first order of business should be protecting America from outside forces gets easily lost when  no one seems to be losing their job for screwing that up.

I saw it in mental health, that you had to continually resume focus on the patient's psychiatric issues, because a dozen other things, many also important, kept grabbing your attention instead. There are housing issues, financial issues, public relations issues, safety issues - plus an awareness that secondary mental health issues, which will only be key with a minority of patients, are nonetheless occasionally central, and always have watchers in the background making sure you are taking care of their people. So we have to address if they are veterans, if they are gay or trans, if they have endured trauma (remote or recent) , whether they are in danger of violence now, if mobility or disability issues are present, what their primary language is and cultural considerations. We did experience situations of patients or agencies reporting us or even suing us somewhat as a flier when they did not like our clinical decisions.  We talked about the legal implications of our decisions a great deal.

Interestingly, I see that City Journal has a new article relating this to managerialism. While I think there is much to this, I note that in the examples given, the fact that people were being sued seems to be what brings the outside managers in.


james said...

"All mortals tend to turn into the thing they are pretending to be."

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yes, that's always the worry, isn't it. It is like those animal skins in mythology that you put on an become the creature.