I've been reading with bemused interest about the flap over former State Sen. Neil Bryant (R-Bend)'s wisecrack that cost him an appointment to the state medical school board. When filling out the application form for the position, in the space marked "Disability," Bryant entered "white/male." That blew his chances for the appointment, as Governor Ted refused to give him the directorship on account of that entry.
Today Bryant's in the paper apologizing to everyone -- he let them down, should have known better, was trying to be funny, didn't realize the hurt it would cause, sincerely, profoundly, mea maxima culpa, etc.
Then you've got the PC set jumping all over the guy. State Sen. Jackie Winters (R-Salem), fresh from getting her head handed to her in the congressional race, is quoted in the O as saying: "I'm really speechless because you don't expect that kind of response. Certainly, it's not appropriate. It's not humorous."
Really? Come on, now, Sen. Winters. We can argue about whether it was appropriate, but you've got to admit, it was funny. Outspoken and funny.
Let's dissect what Bryant was saying with his remark. As I read it, it was a complaint that as a white male (not to mention middle-aged), he feels that he is at a disadvantage when competing for public positions. American society is very conscious of race and gender, and sometimes perfectly qualified white males are passed over for posts in favor of minority or female applicants with otherwise equivalent (or even lesser) qualifications. When this happens, the affected white males are unhappy (although many are understanding and gracious about it).
Is that such an offensive message? Granted, Bryant might have conveyed it in some other way than the one he chose, but should he lose the job for making that statement?
Perhaps the real problem is that Governor Ted is already in hot water because, indeed, not enough of his appointees are women and people of color. In that climate, even someone far less politically savvy than Bryant would have been expected to be smart enough to resist making a joke about the subject.
Bottom line: I guess Bryant shouldn't get the job, but I'm having a hard time sharing the outrage and "speechlessness." And Sen. Bryant, don't feel too bad. You screwed up, but I'm sure you'll find other, worthier ways to volunteer your time.