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A Touching Moment

Well, it seems everyone else is talking about this video, so I might as well toss in my own two cents:

The flack who keeps touching the reporter, after repeatedly being rebuffed (verbally and physically), reminds me of several people I've encountered over the years. They were all overly "touchy," continuing to touch people even after being told not to do so. And I've found they fall into three categories.

1) The Book-Taught Relationship Management Twit. These are the people who have read all the books and studied all the theories on how to manage and regulate human behavior, and have fixed on certain ideas as The Holy Grail. They've read that a compassionate touch can have remarkable powers over an upset person, and by god they're going to give that compassionate touch until it works -- no matter how badly it seems to be working.

I'm sure you've all known them. They tend to be bureaucrats and administrators, glad-handers and handlers, small people with big titles, and they are so fixated on doing their job by the book that they can't bring themselves to throw out chapters that don't work.

This guy, Marc Slavin, doesn't seem to be this type. There's an innocent cluelessness and naivete to those folks, and he seems way too self-aware for that to be true.

2) The sexually predacious. Fortunately, I've only seen this one, not actually experienced it. It's not pretty. The all-too-casual, far-from-innocent touches that insinuate a bit of intimacy that is not reciprocated. And when challenged, it's belittled and the complainer denigrated. "Why so tense? What's the big deal? What's your issue?" It's almost exclusively a male phenomenon, and it gives a lot of other guys a bad rep.

It doesn't seem to fit Slavin either, but we'll come back to this one.

3) The domineering. It's a psychological ploy, designed to put the target off balance and distracted. It also helps the toucher assert dominance over the subject, as they are demonstrating their ability to ignore the subject's wishes and rights with impunity.

This one seems to fit Slavin's behavior to a tee.

Dan Noyes, the reporter being touched, was there to ask questions about serious financial shenanigans at the hospital. Slavin's job is to represent the hospital and make it look good to the press -- or, at least, minimize the damage. By interposing himself between Noyes and keeping Noyes fixated on him and not the hospital administrator who was Noyes' real subject, he protected his employers at that moment.

And remarkably effectively. Noyes allowed himself to be distracted and diverted (and who can blame him? Slavin was superb at this), and didn't get to talk to the administrator. The only time Slavin screwed up was when he went beyond casual patting and brushing and touching, and tried to shut down Noyes' camerawoman's camera.

I have my own techniques for dealing with situations like this, ones that Slavin might appreciate professionally. And that is to find a response that is completely out of the other person's expectations. Try to throw them off balance themselves, give them a reaction that they could not have planned for.

Slavin's plan had two possible outcomes in mind. The first, Noyes reacts to the repeated provocations in such a way that he has an excuse to shut down the event because of Noyes' "disruptions." The other is for Noyes to utterly ignore him, which can be countered by escalating the provocations. This seems to be what happened -- Slavin overstepped the bounds by going after the camera (and, by extension, the camerawoman), provoking Noyes' protective instincts (both professional and the male/female dynamic).

My temptation (added by having the time to consider the situation, something Noyes did not have) would have been to turn the tables back on Slavin.

Remember the three types outlined above? Slavin was obviously not being a sexual predator here. But why not act like he was?

Two angles come to mind here, if one decides to treat Slavin's aggressions as sexual advances. The first is to immediately protest it, to loudly proclaim that this hospital official is sexually assaulting you, publicly, and demand that something be done about this. The accusation of being a sexual offender is so repugnant to most people that it brings them crashing to a halt to defend themselves.

The more challenging -- but potentially more entertaining -- possibility is to welcome the "advances." The guy puts his hand on you? Grab it. Hold it in your own hand. Give it a little tender caress. Maybe even bring it up to your mouth and kiss it. Make it abundantly clear that you are welcoming his touch, and definitely interested in taking it further.

I hate to say it, but the vast majority of men have a bit of homophobia at an instinctive level. An open sexual advance from another man, especially a stranger who they don't know, tends to trigger a very powerful response. They will usually leap back, or occasionally lash out -- either of which would have served Noyes' purpose and utterly destroyed Slavin's plan.

I've used this a few times to my advantage. I've had discussions that involved having someone "flip the bird" at me, or openly said the verbal equivalent. Instead of returning it, I have had remarkable fun in blowing them a kiss. That's not a response they're ready for, and it completely shatters their thought processes.

And if the kiss doesn't work, a little lascivious tongue-flicking is almost guaranteed to send them over the edge.

Slavin almost -- almost -- pulled off a great coup. He had Noyes almost totally flummoxed, and his protectee -- the hospital administrator who didn't want to explain why something called the "patient gift fund" had been tapped for gourmet meals and other bennies for the staff -- dodged the pointed questions. If he had just managed to keep his hands off the camerawoman and her camera, it would have been just about perfect.

Instead, he's now known around the globe as -- well, an asshole. And a lot of attention is now being paid to the hospital's little scandal.

As Bill Clinton might say, "close, but no cigar."


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Comments (31)

Slavin succeeded in postpon... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Slavin succeeded in postponing the questioning until an official investigation could come out to sweep it all under the rug and thus provide reason for permanently postponing any questions.

But in doing so he made himself look like a thug and an asshole and made the hospital look guilty regardless of the reality of the situation. If I were in charge of the hospital I would have sacked his ass on the spot. Any competent administrator should have been able to handle the pointed questions assuming there were no impropriety.

I thought that Noyes should have done what he threatened and he should have whipped out a cell phone and called the police and pressed charges for assault. Then the hospital administrator could have answered pointed questions not only about financial impropriety but also why she employed such an imbecile for a PR flak in the first place.

Slavin better hope he keeps his job, because with that video out there he'll have a hard time finding another one. (well maybe the SEIU would consider that video a positive)

He either a patsy, or a tou... (Below threshold)
914:

He either a patsy, or a touchyphelliac all which = liberal.

Swift application of pepper... (Below threshold)
SShiell:

Swift application of pepper spray would have been approprite to the "toucher" if properly warned before hand.

Obama is a domineering touc... (Below threshold)
davidt:

Obama is a domineering toucher/grabber.

Any unwanted touching is a ... (Below threshold)
ptg:

Any unwanted touching is a battery. The police should have been called and charges pressed.

Watching you discover your ... (Below threshold)
Lee Ward:

Watching you discover your inner gayness over the last couple of years has been interesting, Jay.

I encourage you to continue the process. I think you'll be a lot less angry once you quit pretending.

About The Author:

Jay Tea doesn't flirt with Death. Jay Tea walks up behind Death, grabs its bony butt with both hands, and says "hey, Death, how's it going?"

and now this:

I hate to say it, but the vast majority of men have a bit of homophobia at an instinctive level. An open sexual advance from another man, especially a stranger who they don't know, tends to trigger a very powerful response. They will usually leap back, or occasionally lash out -- either of which would have served Noyes' purpose and utterly destroyed Slavin's plan.

Sounds like the voice of experience talking.

I've used this a few times to my advantage. I've had discussions that involved having someone "flip the bird" at me, or openly said the verbal equivalent. Instead of returning it, I have had remarkable fun in blowing them a kiss. That's not a response they're ready for, and it completely shatters their thought processes.

And if the kiss doesn't work, a little lascivious tongue-flicking is almost guaranteed to send them over the edge.

Snap! Work it, Jay, work it!

I have to agree with Jay an... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

I have to agree with Jay and Jim, Slavin got almost everything the hospital administrators wanted. He (1) kept the reporter off the administrator present to conduct the town hall meeting prior to the meeting's start. Personally, I suspect the administrators really didn't want to hold that meeting anyway as (2) the first chance Slavin had he announced the town hall meeting was being canceled due to the behavior of the tv reporters.

If they fire him (for show) it won't matter that he is unemployable as they are pretty much obliged to take care of him if they expect him to be quiet about what he knows. That, or they can have him killed which would likely be cheaper. If Slavin has a brain he can worry about that one.

Most typical responsive action that Noyes could have take would have provided Slavin with the basis of an excuse to cancel the town hall meeting. As previously stated, that is what I suspect was the ultimate goal of the administrators and Savin. Jay's suggestion to do something (1) quiet/non-disruptive and (2) aimed at knocking Slavin out of his game is a good one.

Having the cameraman recording everything from the time they entered the facility was wise and did provide the station with some usable footage. In retrospect they probably wish they had sent a two camera crew with Noyes. Slavin's attack on the primary camera would have made excellent footage.

Commenter #6 (Lee ... (Below threshold)
irongrampa:


Commenter #6 (Lee Ward) should be commended for his unquestionable diligence--most people can work a lifetime and not display that level of stupidity.

Kudos to you, sir.

My technique tends to work ... (Below threshold)

My technique tends to work better when the subject is dumber. It's a neatly scalable function -- the dumber the subject, the more readily it distracts and diverts them.

For example, look how quickly Lee jumped on it. Mr. "stay on topic" couldn't find word ONE for the actual video and its subjects.

J.

Had an old guy call the PD ... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Had an old guy call the PD to complain about an officer. At the time we had a 'touchy-feelie' Chief who promoted the idea of 'personalizing' contacts. 'Show people you're human, touch them'.

The old guy, probably from Down East (judging by his voice and accent) was really REALLY pissed. Seems the officer, during the stop, called him "Dave". He went on to say, "My name is David ____ or, given our age difference, Sir!

I tired to placate him with, 'Well, by your voice you appear to have come here from the North East. Wonderful place. Was stationed there in the service. But this is sunny Southern California. The people here like to be friendly, so they tend to call others by their first names, but just from my own rearing, I agree that in your case, "Sir" would have been much more appropriate. I'll speak to the officer about it.

Well the old guy really went off then. 'You know where to put your California friendly stuff. I'm not "Dave", "Dude", "Pal", "Buddy", "Guy" or anything else you want to think up.' (Sound of phone slamming!) Now this guy NEVER complained about the ticket! That's what I was expecting.

One of the things the 'experts' tell us on encountering a mentally ill person having an episode. GIVEN THEM SPACE. Guess 'touching' would not be appropriate here. But that's wrong as well. There MAY come a moment when it's entirely appropriate and welcome in defusing the situation.

There's a time and place for everything. In my opinion, as you stated Tea, Slavin is a #3.

Lee,Since you're her... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

Lee,
Since you're here...
Care to explain what changed your opinion of the President?
How did he go from pathological liar to someone you are willing to go to the mattresses for?

Shocking homophobia from Le... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

Shocking homophobia from Lee Ward. Aren't liberals the ones who maintain there's nothing wrong with homosexuality? Then why do they use it as an insult?

Lee WardStop troll... (Below threshold)
retired military:

Lee Ward

Stop trolling for a date from Jay Tea.

Hey Lee your butt buddy jim... (Below threshold)
Michael:

Hey Lee your butt buddy jim x is lonely for your love.

Of course Lee is a homophob... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Of course Lee is a homophobe. He's a lefty.

Who has problems with Kagan's being a lesbian? The left.

Who had problems with Cheney's daughter being a lesbian? The left.

Just like the left doesn't like blacks to have positions of power except when they are affirmative action positions that are designated to be filled by a minority (Look to Ford's run at NY Senate), they have a big problem with gays when they are not staying down on the plantation like they are supposed to be.

Actually I think "masochist... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Actually I think "masochist" is a more apt description. The man loves pain. Who else would deliberately return again and again to be beaten down?

I appreciate reporters tryi... (Below threshold)
Wayne:

I appreciate reporters trying to get to the bottom of a story. However I think it is B.S. when they shove microphones in peoples faces and get into peoples personal space. I don't have much sympathy with reporters who get aggressive with their subjects and their subjects get aggressive back. Of course sometimes that is the intent of the reporters.

Wayne, agreed, but this rep... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

Wayne, agreed, but this reporter wasn't doing that. First, he was attending a public function, and at her workplace asked to interview the hospital administrator about a matter of public interest - misuse of funds. He had every right to be there, every right to ask to interview her, and was not aggressive, but professional.

It's the other extreme from sticking a microphone in a private citizen's face outside his home.

For my part, I now assume the hospital has committed some impropriety with the funds, as alleged, or they wouldn't have been so defensive.

Warning on first touch to s... (Below threshold)

Warning on first touch to stop. On second that further touches will be treated as assault consummated by battery. On third, joint lock or submission hold.

Bonus points it they scream.

Lee,Since you're h... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Lee,
Since you're here...
Care to explain what changed your opinion of the President?
How did he go from pathological liar to someone you are willing to go to the mattresses for?

Lee is a good, LOYAL Party member, SCSIwuzzy. The Party is always right. No dissent is ever allowed. Oceania has ALWAYS been at war with Eurasia. Your imaginings that last week you hear they were at war with Eastasia are the fantasies of a sick mind. Turn yourself in for re-education immediately.

Lee is just a plain old goo... (Below threshold)
Michael:

Lee is just a plain old good little fascist. He would have shined during the Soviet purges back in 1930's with the NKVD.

After the third warning, I ... (Below threshold)
G.:

After the third warning, I would have put him on the floor.

JayIn this video, I... (Below threshold)
Wayne:

Jay
In this video, I have to agree that the reporters was within normal limits. Somewhat close though with the microphone and standing close but reasonable in that surrounding.

However by the way they both reacted to each other I suspect some sort of history there. Beyond their obvious attempt to play otherwise they both seemed agitated from almost that get go. The one guy trying to play like he is pleasantly greeting the reporter was so transparently phony, it made me laugh.

Somewhat close ... (Below threshold)
Somewhat close though with the microphone and standing close but reasonable in that surrounding.
Wayne, if you'd ever seen an on-location stand-up interview (or been in one) you'd know that's how they're trained: get in close so they're both in the shot and background distractions are minimized.
However by the way... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:
However by the way they both reacted to each other I suspect some sort of history there.

Maybe, but it doesn't matter. We can only judge by what we see here. I think the reporter was OK; the other guy, not so much.

It's the job of the press to investigate allegations of impropriety, which were what prompted the reporter's request for an interview. He wanted to hear the hospital's side of the story regarding charges that they were misusing the patient benefit funds for staff perks. Perfectly appropriate for him to do so, IMO.

(In fact I don't think Noyes and Slavin have any history, since Slavin introduces himself to Noyes; I don't get any sense that they knew each other before this. But as I said, it doesn't matter in any case.)

Re "that's how they're trai... (Below threshold)
Wayne:

Re "that's how they're trained"

As Jay already pointed out, the guy doing the touching Marc may have been trained to do what he did. However in this situation both Marc and the Reporter training did not match up to reality.

This wasn't a friendly interview in front of the building where you have to stand together to get a good shot.

If you want to go purely on the video presented and not take into account any other possible factors, then the reporter was acting aggressive and he overreacted as did Marc. Allowable personal space is very different between two friendly people and two hostile people.

Also remember 24,25 you can't take in factors like the hospital financial shenanigans, possible avoidance of the press, etc. After all those factors are not in the video and that are your standards not mine.

Slavin and Noyes may not have a history but I bet that Noyes and the administrator did. The administrator was who Slavin was trying to protect. I don't have a dog in this hunt so I am just looking as someone that doesn't have a bias either way.


24,25 if you saw a video wh... (Below threshold)
Wayne:

24,25 if you saw a video where someone punches someone else, you would go solely by that video clip? No reason to ask for video of what happen prior to the punch being thrown or ask what other factors were involve. Just take a short video clip as is.

About the time the guy went... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

About the time the guy went after the woman, I probably would have just kicked his ass. Or I might have done the same trapezius maneuver that I used to use on my son, pretending to just give the guy a friendly "touch" in return. I've got a grip like a vice.

Rodney - You are right. The... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

Rodney - You are right. The guy kept putting his hand in the perfect spot for an Aikido hold.

I noticed how close they... (Below threshold)
MF:

I noticed how close they both were together.
That is hostile and in American culture considered too close.
I think the newcaster came across as a bully to me for not waiting until after the meeting and the toucher touched the newscaster too much.
I dont think either handled the situation well.

That the reporter didn't de... (Below threshold)

That the reporter didn't deck that low-life public-purse paid poofter after his second battery upon (the reporter) speaks to patience and tolerance upon the part of the reporter that I would only wish for and a very lucky public-purse paid poofter: That he hadn't presumed to play with me.




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