Monday, January 06, 2003

Today’s Cartoon Camel

According to the Pioneer Press, Washington County is cracking down on its employees’ use of the Internet for personal reasons. The article is dramatically entitled “E-mail probe nets 31 suspects,” which sounds like the Agriculture Extension service was caught running a live barn sex camera or something, but unfortunately the facts of the case are decidedly more mundane:

A harmless photo of a friend's child helped get one Washington County employee a written reprimand. A crass cartoon involving a camel contributed to a written reprimand for another. They are among 31 county employees who faced discipline for allegedly violating policies about e-mail use and a respectful workplace.

These disciplinary measures seem excessive. Receiving a “harmless photo of a friend’s child” results in a written reprimand? Yes, these types of photos inevitably result in the gathering of all women within a 3 mile radius for long stretches of cooing and fawning. But I’m not sure that’s an actionable offense. Nor does it seem problematic to be involved in sending a "crass cartoon involving a camel" as I don't believe it's possible to animate a camel without being crass. And if the use of a cartoon camel is necessary to maintain the logical consistency of your argument, then what other choice do you have?

But it’s not always what you’re doing on the Internet that rankles the hide of Washington County, it’s how long you’re doing it for.

People who spend too much time on personal Internet or e-mail use were written up for stealing county property and intentionally falsifying a timecard - the time they spent doing personal stuff on the clock.

Again, these punitive measures seem a little harsh. However, their remedial instincts are dead on accurate. My own observations of the egregious time wasting behavior of my coworkers and friends (who usually spend most of their day responding to the e-mails and camel sketches I send their way), lead me to believe that the Internet is the biggest drain on productivity of the American workforce since they started allowing women into the office environment in the first place. Particularly women wearing tight, wraparound, plaid mini skirts.

Washington County employees, I regret to inform you that your reading of the preceding sentence constitutes a violation of the respectful workplace policy. Please report yourself to the proper authorities immediately. The rest of you should be thankful you don’t work for Washington County and you probably should just get back to work.

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