- The Washington Times - Monday, May 4, 2009

Not so sensitive

The Delaware Transportation Department’s spring newsletter on diversity training was so insensitive that it could have been part of a script for “The Office.”

The newsletter, meant to heighten awareness about cultural issues in the workplace, sounded more like Michael Scott, the bumbling boss on NBC’s popular comedy show, wrote it rather than state bureaucrats.

The newsletter, delivered to about 2,600 workers, warned them not to repeat offensive stereotypes, which were spelled out in excruciating detail and categorized by ethnicity.

For example, under the “African-American” section, the newsletter said it is improper to ask a black colleague, “Should we order fried chicken or watermelon for you?” because “that is stereotyping and shows ignorance.”

Two other bullet points contained warnings that referenced the Democratic and Republican 2008 vice presidential candidates.

One advised not to tell black co-workers “you are articulate or you speak very well,” because “you may be implying that most African-Americans are not well-spoken or well-educated. Remember a vice presidential candidate made this mistake,” referring to Democrat Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Another bullet point warned workers against asking their Asian colleagues to recommend a good Chinese restaurant by, strangely enough, recalling something Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was reported to have said, though it was never confirmed.

Corrected paragraph: “All Asians are not Chinese,” the newsletter said. “Take some time to study a world map. The world is made up of continents with many countries, regions, cultures and subcultures. Remember the news reports where a vice presidential candidate who thought Africa was a country.”

The gay and Hispanic categories listed a number of derogatory words used to describe those people.

Delaware News Journal reporter Ryan Cormier called Transportation spokesman Darrell Cole, “Delaware’s version of Michael Scott, but possibly a bit more clueless” for his explanation for the newsletter.

“Is it in your face? Absolutely.” Mr. Cole said. “Is it pretty bold? Yeah, it is. But the general thought is that you have to shock people to get their attention. The overwhelming response was ‘Wow, this is saying what we’ve been feeling.’”

Shutting down

The conservative-leaning Women’s Freedom Network, created to counter radical feminism, has folded, citing lack of funds and a changed political landscape.

“The voices of radical feminists have become muted and the overall atmosphere has changed such that affirmative action vis a vis women is no longer a major concern,” group President Rita Simon wrote in a letter.

The Washington-based group was founded in 1993 by women seeking alternatives to “extremist ideological feminism.”

Booking it

Montgomery Blair Sibley, the lawyer for the late “D.C. Madam” Deborah Jeane Palfrey, is releasing a book that will mark the first anniversary of his client’s death.

A release from the publisher says the 598-page tome “identifies the external and internal demons that drove Jeane from an initially defiant woman willing to fight the government to a woman so despairing as to take her own life prior to sentencing upon her conviction for Prostitution Racketeering and Money Laundering.”

The book, titled “Why Just Her” will be sold on Amazon.com for $25.99

Another winner

The founders and leaders of the Federalist Society are the final winners of the Bradley Foundation’s four $250,000 cash prizes this year for people who demonstrate excellence in their respective fields.

The prize money will be split among the group’s founders and current leaders. Spencer Abraham, Steven G. Calabresi, David McIntosh and Lee Liberman Otis founded the group in 1982 as law students. President Eugene B. Meyer and Executive Vice President Leonard Leo now lead the organization.

These honorees, along with the three other Bradley Foundation award winners, will be feted at the Kennedy Center on June 3. Arnold C. “Alito” Harberger, distinguished professor of economics at the University of California at Los Angeles; renowned historian Sir Martin Gilbert and Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol are the three other 2009 winners.

Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter@washingtontimes.com.

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