The Beatings Will Continue Until the Fear is Driven Out

We used to work with a person who had a sign over their desk saying, "The beatings will continue until the fear is driven out." In our experience that's a pretty fair summation of the morale in most companies. People are always upset about something. It could be anything from the politics in the office - the Oval one or the corporate one - to people leaving their lunches in the break room refrigerator until they've grown an unhealthy crust of green.

This simple observation makes something we heard on the radio yesterday as absurd an idea as we've heard in a great while.
There is now a company - which we dearly wish we could remember the name of - that has instituted a "happiness only" policy. Under the policy you are forbidden to come to work unless you are happy and unstressed. You are not allowed to complain, whimper, bitch, moan or whine in the office...ever. Only happy faces need apply. And of course, there is a penalty for failure to comply. While you are allowed to stay home solely because you are too pissed off to come to work, you will be fired if you miss too many days - a counter-intuitive move under the policy if you ask us. In short, these great entrepreneurial titans of business have decided to police one of the last great bastions of the American working class - the right to bitch.

Think about it. America is a place full of unhappy curmudgeons. We greatly prize the fierce, independent, self-reliant, bull-headedness it takes to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and be crusty old coots. One need look no farther than
Dick Cheney to see the inbred traits of generations of unhappy workers at work. He's a sort of King Coot, a bitter and nasty old man who never met a person he liked, a difference he could tolerate or a cause he could be positive about - save torture and mayhem, but those are pretty negative things to get behind.

And why is he unhappy?

Well, for starters, he works for the
world's stupidest boss. He knows he could do a better job than George and would lose no chance to prove it if it weren't for that damn bum ticker he has. We can all relate to that, right? He's also unhappy because he doesn't like gays, Iraqis, liberals, the US Constitution or reporters for the Washington Post. We also hear he's none-too-fond of Terrel Owens either.

How does he work off all that aggression?

Why, he
outs a few spies, directs the torture of a few terrorists and generally says, "Go fuck yourself!" to US Senators and the citizenry alike. His classic nastiness isn't an accident. It's the only way the poor old sod has to keep from going postal and attacking Barney in a rage. If he's this ill-tempered when he's allowed to be unhappy, how volatile would he be if you told him he'd have to smile all the time. The old bastard's mouth can't even form a smile anymore for Chrissakes.

And the problem isn't just an American one.
Look at France. It's being rocked, as we speak, by a wave of violence that no one truly understands, but that is nevertheless deadly. French anarchists are making a nice fondue over a burning Peugeot just because they aren't happy. Aside from some vague notions about equality for immigrants and jobs for the poor, they don't have a clue as to why they're turning violent. They're so pissed they're not even taking the time to make demands. It's much more fun to just to roll a Renault into the ditch than try to channel all that anger. More satisfying too we'd guess, so we don't begrudge them their riots one little bit. Solidairty with our Francophone brethren we say!

So where does that leave a workplace completely devoid of this normal human channel for blowing off steam? Up the creek without a paddle and damned ticked off about it to boot.

We'd guess this company is a much angrier place than if they tried not to be Commandants of Fun and legislate happiness. Imagine sitting through a boring meeting where a vacuous twerp makes all sorts of plans that everyone in the room, absent the twerp, knows are going to fail before the first person falls out of their chair in a dead sleep. In a normal office, this mounting resentment would be taken care of. No doubt someone would eventually stand up and say, "Frank? That's the
dumbest fucking idea I've ever heard. What kind of drugs have you been doing?" Or at the least someone would release a pregnant harmuph and look over the tops of their glasses in scorn to give old Frank the opportunity to back out of the idea before it's too late. In this company everyone in the room would be reduced to a coven of Stepford Husbands and Wives, clad in perky clothing and wearing the beatific smiles of cult members. The office intercom would spout reminders to, "don't worry, be happy" at scientific determined intervals to prolong the magic spell and there would be no more making excuses to miss the office Christmas party. It would be "come and celebrate, or die".

Happiness only? Bosch! That's positively Orwellian.

The Constitution says we all have the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". We think it should be amended to "life, liberty and the pursuit of (un)happiness".

Our advice to those charged with the voting on the next Supreme Court justice is to grill Alito long and hard on this.

"Tell me Judge Alito, what's your position on the constitutional question of unhappiness? Would you vote to overturn "happiness only" legislation?"

And the answer my friends is very important. No less than the fate of the Republic hangs in the balance.

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, November 08, 2005

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