hypocritical : talking the talk without walking the walk

November 01, 2005

Cease & Desist: Blackbelt associations independent of the martial arts

Dear Sirs & Madames,

Re: Use of the phrase "BLACK BELT OR BLACKBELT IN [BUSINESS FUNCTION]" to describe roles or levels of expertise in a organization

It has come to our attention that you have made a (rather bad and annoying) habit of using the phrase "BLACK BELT OR BLACKBELT IN [BUSINESS FUNCTION]" to describe roles in the organization, as if the person in question had developed significant skill in martial arts and self defense. For example, the "Let's ask Bob to save us from the intruders. He's the Six Sigma Black belt around here."

Our primary issues with your use of this phrase in a business setting are as follows:

1. Even if, at some point, the employee you describe possessed the ability to perform particular aspects of the martial arts at some point in their life (which is highly doubtful), they have long since lost the ability to do so. In fact, it is highly unlikely that they know their Gi from a hole in the ground.

2. Any of these so-called "black belts" when faced with an assailant of some skill in martial arts, like, say, your 8 year-old nephew who possesses a yellow belt from the local McDojo, would likely crumble into a whimpering mass on the floor, screaming "I'm only a CPA! Don't hurt me." This leaves your entire organization at substantial risk should it be set upon by a roving band of Sarbanes-Oxley-infected ninja.

3. Martial arts black belts are generally made of cloth, not the cheap naugahyde leather that your Six Sigma black belt sports about the office.

You have 24 HOURS to remove the offending language from corporate literature, Web pages, internal email, instant messages, meetings, conversations, and urinal/restroom banter. Please confirm in writing that you have done so.

Failing this, we will apply for an injunction, and will also seek to recover costs and damages (plus interest) for your tortious and torturous acts and conduct.

This is our final communication to you on this matter. We look forward to hearing from you as a matter of urgency and sanity.

Those concerned about the English language

cc: The Oxford English Dictionary, Webster's Dictionary, American Heritage Dictionary, Chicago Manual of Style, Strunk, White, Judo, Karate, et al.

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Cease & Desist: Blackbelt associations independent of the martial arts
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