Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Karl du Fresne: It's Kevin Roberts' turn to be thrown to the wolves

I’m no fan of Kevin Roberts. He’s a tireless self-promoter whose talent for bullshit is breathtaking even by advertising industry standards. But the extraordinary furore over his comments on gender diversity illustrates the dangerous extent to which business is now held hostage by the po-faced forces of political correctness.

Roberts, the executive chairman of Saatchi and Saatchi, has been asked to take leave of absence for saying, in quite mild and unexceptionable terms, that the debate over gender diversity in the advertising business is over.
It seems that in business these days, you’re allowed to express an opinion only if it’s the right one.

We know that the enforcers of political correctness are intolerant of any departure from ideological orthodoxy. That’s been the case for a long time. What’s relatively new, and frightening, is that business leaders are now so intimidated that they capitulate without firing a shot.  

The lesson is clear. Roberts has been hung out to dry as a lesson to anyone else who might be tempted to express a legitimate opinion. And there’s another, even more potent, lesson here: no one is too big to be safe. Even Roberts’ rarefied status in the advertising world wasn’t enough to protect him once the Harpies had him in their sights.

Loyalty? Forget about it.

The irony is that Roberts may not have been downplaying women’s legitimate career ambitions at all, but instead was wondering aloud whether there were better options for women than relentlessly pursuing advancement as men do. That was the interpretation placed on his remarks in a discussion (between women, as it happened) that I heard on the BBC.

Not that it matters. Men are not permitted to discuss such things. As columnist Grace Dent put it in Britain’s Independent, Roberts has been escorted to “Shamed Man Gulag #231, policed by a number of perma-furious turquoise-haired fourth-wave feminists”.

New Zealanders should recognise this pattern of events, because we’ve been here before. In 2011, Northern Employers and Manufacturers Association head Alasdair Thompson was publicly crucified for suggesting that menstruation caused women to take sick leave. Shamefully, he lost his job as a result. 

Thompson was thrown to the wolves by the very people who should have supported him and now Roberts has suffered a similar fate. Clearly, no one should expect the gutless business sector to stand up for people’s right to free speech. 

Karl du Fresne blogs at karldufresne.blogspot.co.nz


KeninNZ said...
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Totally agree with you on this Karl. Freedom of speech we have but this is a demo of the cost of speech. Scary times.

steve said...
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People thruout the western world have had a gutsful of this insidious ideology hence the popularity of Trump in the US. {It's a shame however that this revolution has had to be engendered by someone unfit to be leader}. PC has become the new religious order in the west the proponents of which generally denounce any notion of spirituality. The morals, ethics and societal orders forged over centuries of western civilisation have been replaced by this humanist doctrine of absolute intolerance of anyone who doesn't accept their view of the world. Non adherents are pillioried and branded with an 'ist' or 'phobe' or whatever other insulting moniker they can dream up. Clint Eastwood recently dared to speak out against how PC is destroying America and witness now have the media have come down on him with ridicule and scorn. How dare he exercise his right of free speech.

Brian said...
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Thrown to the wolves....or conform..
Political Correctness is an insidious development which is at the forefront of Western thinking and must be a veritable boon to feminists and our liberal establishment..
Sure thing us men are right up against this tsunami of feminism and woe be tide (no pun intended) any male that stands against this ideological orthodoxy. Its a woman’s world and don’t you dare to forget it.
As we have seen to put a group of extremely fit highly charged young randy Rugby players into a group add enough alcohol then a couple of strippers and what can one expect a band of Monks at their devotions? (But here again, they too might have dirty habits!)
If these feminists really want a puritanical society that ignores the demands and reality of sex in young males then prove your point by gathering together and taking on the job of strippers. That should fix the situation overnight...even hormonal highly charged alcohol fuelled rugby players have certain standards.
.Kipling got it right over a century ago in the last line of his poem.....
“That the Female of HER species.......is more deadly than the male!” AND
Lest we forget... “For the Colonel’s Lady an’ Judy O’Grady
Are sisters under the skin!”
But Judy O’Grady is a hell of lot more fun!!!

Shane said...
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Agree with you on the freedom of speech Karl, however to tie it to Feminism simply allows the misogynistic voices to be heard more loudly - as evidenced by comments thus far. I'm no feminist but highlighting Roberts (who I agree is an egotistical windbag) and Thompson's comments is drawing a long bow. Neither demonstrates an awareness of what his job is about, and shows poor judgement at best - arguably losing one's job is harsh but, in such roles, one should be aware of the need to choose words carefully. Certainly we should all be free to speak our minds as individuals but, in our professional lives, people see us as a spokesperson for the organisation - rightly or wrongly.

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