Office Approved: Sex, Politics, Religion

taboo_topics.jpgIn many ways, it seems that everything comes in threes. For example, there’s the trinity, the trifecta, the three musketeers, the three blind mice, the triple crown…and bookoo more. And yet, as diverse as all of these ‘threes’ are, the one thing that they do have in common is the almost mystical quality that this number possesses.

Which brings us to the ominous, but age-old adage, and that is that we are always warned to avoid talking about any of ‘the three no-nos'; religion, sex or politics, while at work. The clear implication, of course, is that if you get caught discussing these in any but the most plain vanilla way, it won’t even take three strikes to be out…And the PC police where you work will be more than happy (in fact, it’s their specialty) to be (you guessed it, but another trio) judge, jury and executioner, if they think that you violated their set of ever-expanding rules and regulations.

It is certainly ironic, not to say damned undemocratic, that we have to be so restricted, so guarded, in expressing ourselves among friends and colleagues in the workplace. Hell, last I looked, this is still America. And there is that special something about the First Amendment. You know, that provision that guarantees freedom of speech?  I mean, like what’s more interesting than to chit chat about during a break than any, or for that matter, all of these three taboos? And if you’re really gonna be honest about it, the only truly natural subject of the three, yet the most frowned upon, is of course, Sex.

Now that I may have your attention, and before we go any further, it’s time for the usual disclaimers…Though we like to think of ourselves as fairly savvy and probably sophisto, the fact is that we need to balance our right to freedom of expression with a basic sense of decency towards others. Because just like with cursing being a healthy outlet, talking about any of these subjects is great, just so long as you don’t insult the innocent. And, that you know your audience.

So you may well ask, once we accept the boundaries of good taste and logical limits, is there anything left to talk about?  Or are we only left with how the boss is an a-hole or who won the whatever sports event? Absodamnedlutely! Talk, discuss, banter, joke and laugh about any-or all-of these three ‘bad boys.’ Each has a long and rich history, and all (depending on the opinions that you have every right to have) can readily highlight the absurdity of the human condition.

>Politics: kinda speaks for itself, don’t you think? Arrogance, corruption, power trips, manipulation, and a cast of characters otherwise to only be found in a bad soap opera, or better yet, a Petri dish. Like viruses, politicos come in so many strains, there’s always a lot to laugh at.

>Religion: a bit more caution required here, but certainly not as sacrosanct a subject as it used to be. The Inquisition is over and we  don’t behead infidels (not yet, anyway). I really love it when some clown will make a stupid statement like ‘I don’t care what you believe in, just so long as you do believe.’ Oh yeah? This is great grist for the discussion mill, especially for atheists.

>Sex: This is truly saving the best for last. The subject couldn’t possibly be more natural, healthier, and just more fun to talk about than, I think, the other two combined. Purity or prurience, when you’re talking sex, does it really matter? Oops, just don’t get caught.

In the end, it’s really about achieving a sense of proportion and balance between what you can say and what you should say. Because the alternative, to not speak at all except in the most trivial of ways, isn’t an option at all, that is if you’ve got a sense of humor, and some smarts to go with it. But I would be remiss if I didn’t conclude without giving an honorable mention to that famous trio (no, not Moe, Larry and Curly), but the three monkeys. Yes, those famous icons of discretion, who have survived after all these years, because they ‘see no evil, speak no evil and hear no evil.’

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