Government Gauntlets

Air-traffic controllers have always had a tough job. But it just got a lot tougher. The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) has jumped on the bandwagon of diversity training. And it sometimes takes on extremely bizarre forms. The idea of diversity training is sold to government agencies as a way of helping employees learn how to get along better with people of other cultures. But in many cases what really happens is a plunge into some of the most contentious social issues of our day. At the FAA, for example, the diversity workshops focused on gender sensitivity. Under the guise of helping men become more sensitive to the problems faced by women, the workshops veered off into explicit sexual content. According to news reports, women were urged to share intimate sexual experiences, including stories of rape and childhood molestation—supposedly to help men better understand how society treats women. In another exercise, women were required to pass around photos of male sex organs and to comment on the sexual prowess of their male co-workers. The rationale was to turn the tables on those men who pass around pornography at work and make lewd comments about their female co-workers. Most bizarre was a training session where men were forced to walk through gauntlets of female employees, who touched and fondled them while making suggestive comments. According to one of the leaders of the session, the purpose of the exercise was to show men the sexual harassment that "women often experience on a daily basis." But no matter what their rationale, these exercises are an outrageous invasion of privacy—for both men and women. Apparently, many employees thought so, too. One of the participants, an executive vice-president of an air traffic controllers union, filed a complaint, and the FAA has now agreed to redesign the program. But the question remains how a government agency could be drawn into such an outrageous program in the first place. The answer is that our government has bought into the idea that the state's responsibility goes far beyond merely enforcing civic duty in its citizens. Instead, the modern state acts as though its role is therapeutic—to reshape our personality to fit some preconceived notion of mental health. Starting with its own workers, the state is invading their lives, their psyches, their values, using behaviorist techniques to impose a particular secular, liberal version of the relationship between the sexes. What we're seeing is a state driven by the idea that its job is not to serve people but to save them. But government cannot save us. The distinctive characteristic of the state is the power to coerce—to restrain certain behavior under the threat of punishment. But genuine goodness cannot be coerced. It may be true that some men have maltreated women through the ages; but that injustice cannot be remedied with more injustice. God's remedy for evil is to overcome it with good, not with more evil. Learning to do that would be a far better training program for air-traffic controllers than anything the FAA could dream up.


Chuck Colson


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