Today’s contribution is not golf specific, but it does apply to the workplace, a timely topic for the golf industry with the dawn of the 2021 season upon us.
The inspiration is Pepe Le Pew, the Looney Tunes character introduced back in 1945, who was known to steal kisses, prompting one New York Times columnist to insist that Pepe “normalized rape culture.” Pepe has also been removed from Space Jam 2, a sequel to a movie he appeared in back in the ‘90s.
Pepe may not be alone. Some are actually calling for Miss Piggy from Muppets fame to be removed because of her amorous advances towards Kermit the Frog and hostile treatment of others. All this comes in the wake of Dr. Seuss books being removed because of how they portrayed ethnicities.
All of the above and more similar incidents were on my mind as I watched The Sandlot, one of the great sports movies of all time and an innocent one at that – or so I thought (and still do) about a group of young baseball players in the ‘60s.
In one scene in this coming of age movie, one of the guys who has a crush on lifeguard Wendy Peffercorn, fakes drowning so she gives him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation before he steals a long kiss from the older woman. To my knowledge, cancel culture hasn’t gotten around to that one – not yet anyway.
They probably will get to The Sandlot, or other cartoon characters and children’s books before, or ever do, get to games and music videos that depict much more graphic scenes of violence and sexual depictions.
Whether you roll your eyes at cartoons and puppets being banned or censored or think such examples are completely justified, such is the world in which we exist today and the workplace in which we operate. A seemingly innocuous statement, perhaps in jest, may be interpreted as offensive to some, whether in a lesson, a dining room or pro shop.
As mentioned above, it isn’t just golf that this affects. It can be any business. Human resources is an integral part of any workplace.
Whether an employee is complaining about another employee making an alleged offensive comment, a member/golfer making a similar complaint about an employee, or a staff member complaining about a member/golfer, the consequences are many, depending on the severity.
Even if the complaint doesn’t involve lawyers or the courts, the golf industry is going into a season in which it is looking to establish a warm, welcoming environment for everybody after a 2020 season in which participation grew.
As golf operations seek to continue those gains, the last thing they need is to be knocked in the community by somebody who has been offended telling others that the environment is far from welcoming to various demographics.
It’s something to keep in mind as both management and employees prepare for an important year in the Canadian golf industry.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned recently, its that what is innocent to some can be offensive to others. Dealing with the potential for unfortunate situations now through club policy and discussions during staff meetings is the best way to avoid being caught in the middle at peak season or any other time.