my coworker keeps trying to goad me into political arguments

A reader writes:

I’m a grad student interning for the summer at an apolitical government agency. In an effort to make conversation with one of the permanent staff members on my team, we got to talking about our respective collections (he collects coins, I collect political campaign buttons). I regret telling him this, however, because now this coworker has taken to quizzing me each day on obscure U.S. political history. This behavior is a little annoying because it makes me feel like I’m constantly being forced to prove myself in a capacity that has nothing to do with my job performance, but I can write it off as an awkward effort to be social.

What is becoming progressively more annoying is that these quizzes and conversations are venturing into clearly partisan territory. For example, he asked me to take this misleading (and debunked by several reputable fact checking organizations) anti- Hillary Clinton “quiz” he’d printed off of a right-wing website, makes snide offhand comments about liberal elected officials, and tries to start conversations with me about controversial things like the recent Supreme Court case on birth control and the racially problematic mascots of major league sports teams. I’m a politically aware person (I worked in political advocacy before returning to grad school) and generally have no problem having discussions about political issues, but I am uncomfortable doing so with a superior in an apolitical, nonpartisan office, especially because it is clear that we are at opposite ends of the political spectrum. I’ve taken to trying to avoid his questions, or answering them as neutrally as I can, and occasionally feigning ignorance or changing the subject when he makes his more extreme statements, but I worry that makes me come off as ditzy, poorly informed, and/or apathetic, particularly since I am a young woman.

How should I handle this situation? Should I stop keeping my liberal opinions to myself? Suck it up for the next month or so and just deal? Or is there a way to tactfully ask him to stop putting me in the hot seat?

Some options:

“Hey Bob, our politics are very different, so let’s stick to the history quizzes.”

“Hey Bob, I feel very uncomfortable when you bring up political topics, because our views are different and I’m not comfortable debating them at work.”

“We’re at opposite ends of the political spectrum, and I’m not comfortable talking politics at work, especially with someone I’m hoping will give me a reference in the future.”

If it continues after a couple of these, then get more pointed:

“I’m banning political discussions between us.”

“Ack, politics again. Time for me to get back to work.”

If you stick to refusing to engage, he’ll have to either back off or become so aggressive about forcing politics on you that at that point you can ask your manager for advice about how to handle him. Which would be an entirely legitimate and reasonable thing to do at that stage, since you’ll have already tried to handle it yourself and Bob’s behavior would have crossed the line into disruptive and inappropriate.

But try just asserting yourself first and see if that solves it.

{ 170 comments… read them below }

  1. Celeste

    Use Alison’s scripts, but stop worrying about how you are coming off to this person if you won’t take the bait and get in a fight with him. On some level he seems to want that. I get the feeling that he is definitely having fun with this. Take the fun away by steering back to work. Unless the quizzes relate to your work, they need to stop. He can do those with somebody else on his own time.

    You did nothing wrong by talking about what you collect. He’s the one who decided to grill you about it.

    1. iseeshiny

      +1 You don’t need to worry about him thinking you are “ditzy, poorly informed, and/or apathetic” because frankly, chances are he already pigeonholed you the second he found out your political leanings. (Not even going into gender here…)

      1. Andrea

        Yeah, I came here to say something like that. Don’t worry about what he thinks of you, OP. He sounds like the type who already made up his mind about you, anyway.

      2. Kiwi

        Exactly. He has already decided that the OP is politically ignorant and there is no changing that. It’s unlikely that he thinks that many are as politically informed as he is – men or women. This isn’t about debate. It’s about him “educating” the OP. With someone like this, in a position of authority over you , a nod and smile policy is often the safest. Their egos cannot handle the bruising of your refusal to listen to The Wisdom.

    2. OP

      Celeste, you are so right about him having fun with this. He has made it abundantly clear that he is bored with his job (He mentioned to me in the office kitchen that even the ED knows). I feel a lot better about standing up for myself as not a command performance entertainer than I did when it felt like some sort of strange test I needed to pass in order to get his respect.

  2. jmkenrick

    Personally, I’m a big fan of lightheartedly joking, “well, this is a dangerous road to go down,” followed by a topic change.

    Could be helpful to think of one or two questions/conversations starters (work related or otherwise) so that you can be prepared to steer the conversation away.

    1. GrumpyBoss

      “Wow, you couldn’t ask me about religion?” is what I use when people bring up political conversations.

      If someone brings up religion, I ask about football.

  3. Laura

    Another line that might or might not work for some of his lead-ins is, “I only collect campaign buttons, not other political ephemera or trivia, I’m afraid!”

    1. Celeste

      It would be very tempting to say you’d found a buyer for your button collection, and you are going to plow the investment into teapot collecting. Maybe he has an opinion on whether this flowered one you saw on eBay would be the best inaugural teapot? Or does he think this golden teapot on Etsy is a better choice? Be prepared to discuss the pros and cons.

        1. Heather

          If they’re chocolate ones, you could take care of that problem pretty quickly :)

  4. Also Govt

    Any advice on what to do if it is actually your manager forcing political discussions on you? This sounds exactly like my situation but its not just a superior but my manager/supervisor who does this.

    1. BRR

      I’ve had a situation like this and “I go by the old adage to not talk about politics or religion at work” worked for me. That’s my rule for all politics whether or not I agree with you.

        1. LJL

          I’ve had that work. Sometimes I have to repeat, but usually it’s effective. “I don’t like to discuss politics at work” has worked well for me.

    2. Annie

      My manager started steering our conversations in this direction or stopping me in the hall or stopping by my cubicle and if I wasn’t prepared for the conversation or didn’t want to have it I finally started to smile and say something like “It looks like you have done your research on this topic, I however have spent my time on the latest teapot quality reports. If you can give me an hour or two to research this I can get back to you on this topic.”

      Finally I asked him why he was always coming to me with these conversations, and he said it was because I was well informed and was able to hold up in the conversations. I told him while I appreciated that I’d be willing to schedule a time once or twice a month where we could debate but couldn’t be cornered with it by him or I’d end up spending work hours (billed hours) trying to keep up on what was going on because it was getting to be too much. What we ended up doing was extending our one on one meetings by 15 minutes to give us the time to have our debates (they usually didn’t last that long). (Please note I enjoyed the debates- just didn’t like be broadsided by them- if you don’t like them I’d just not engage.)

    3. Natalie Anne Lanoville

      That happened to me at a job a few years ago. You haven’t wanted to quit a job until you’ve shared a 6’x10′ office with a boss who’s punishing you for not satisfying his curiosity about your politics. I ended up walking out, no joke.

      1. Anon

        It’s happened to me too. More than once. I have no idea why people try to suss out the politics of people they work with. It’s really no one’s business and there are good reasons not to talk about it.

  5. Lucy

    Huh. Goad. I’ve always thought it was goat. That’s embarrassing.

    Learn something new…

    1. Audiophile

      This gave me a laugh.

      “Coworker was goating me today….”

      *cue confused expression”

      1. Emily, admin extraordinaire

        And there’s the basis for an awesome Animaniacs joke:

        Yakko: *holds a slobbering badger in front of a witness*

        Judge: Stop badgering the witness!

        Yakko: Okay. *holds a bleating goat in front of the witness*

        Judge: What are you doing now?

        Yakko: Goading the witness.

        Wakko: *plays a ba-dum, ching! on the drums*

    2. CaliSusan

      I think it’s one of those words you have to see in written context before it clicks, because it DOES sound so similar to “goat.” Kind of how I cringe whenever I see someone write “Wallah!” because I know they mean “Voila!” but are writing based on how the word sounds, and probably have just never seen the word written down before.

      1. kdizzle

        I had a co-worker who would consistently write “viola!” in his e-mails instead of “voila!”

        I would respond with, “cello!”

        I don’t think he ever got it.

          1. fposte

            That is both an amusing joke and, given the deliciousness of challah, an inviting greeting.

        1. Sike!

          I think this is a pop cultural thing. When I’ve used the phrase to indicate joking/kidding, I’ve always typed, “sike!” But it’s different in a context where I’m excited (“I’m psyched!”) or blown someone’s mind (“Psyched out”).

          1. Sadsack

            Isn’t the meaning the same though, like you are kidding and just psyching the other person out?

      2. TK

        If you’re an American and the form of the word you’ve heard most is “goading” (which wouldn’t be surprising) this is a really logical assumption, because for most (all?) speakers of American English “goading” and “goating” are pronounced exactly the same.

        For Brits, there’d be a clear distinction, just as in “medal” and “metal” (which are homophones to Americans).

        1. Bertie

          Respectfully disagreeing…to this American ear the difference between “goad” and “goat” is completely obvious, just like the difference between “toad” and “tote.”

          1. The IT Manager

            Yeah, TK. Goad and goat have a totally differing ending as goading and goating (not a real word) have a totally different middle.

          2. Valar M.

            +1 As an American – goad and goat do not sound alike, nor do medal and metal. There are subtle but definite differences.

            1. TK

              First, I was only talking about “goating” (which, no, is not a word, but obviously Lucy thought it was, which is what started this thread) v. “goading,” not “goad” v. “goat,” which are obviously different. The ending is always distinct, just not the middle.

              I stand by my contention that for most Americans, “metal” and “medal” are effectively homophones (as are “latter” and “ladder,” etc.) but this isn’t universal and language is complicated. See here for more detailed explanation from a linguist, which I’m not: http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=8697

              And my apologies to AAM for the off-topicness here.

              1. FRRibs

                It may well be that in some of the many dialects in the US that goat and goad may sound the same; even on a town by town basis people seem to drop or mispronounce certain letters, especially at the end of words.

                Dialects can be a funny thing. Once as a young Joisey boy I was trying to order coffee in Amish country…I eventually gave up and asked for “hot brown stuff”.

          3. Sadsack

            I see TK’s point. There are many times where I find myself and others here in the U.S. not fully enunciating the T at the end of words. There are probably other similar things that I and others do that we don’t realize at the time. If I think about it, I’ll say it correctly, but usually I am probably lazy about getting the tip of my tongue completely up to the roof of my mouth.

              1. Sadsack

                I have been sitting here for the past two minutes practicing how I say “goat”. Actually, I guess it more comes from exhaling through the mouth at the moment you put your tongue to the roof. Anyway, I understand what TK meant by his/her comment.

                1. fposte

                  Heh. I’ve been doing “goading/goating” in my office. I think when you move to the participle, the difference is very subtle and may be more noticeable to the speaker than to the listener.

                2. TK

                  To clarify, I was only talking about the sound in the middle of words, not at the end. “Goat” and “goad” are obviously and clearly different.

            1. aebhel

              I don’t know that it’s a matter of saying it correctly; it’s just an accent, similar to the way some English accents drop the r at the end of words.

          4. Kay

            What about “fraud” and “frog”… I watch too much television and too many commercials :-)

          1. James M

            Sure, you can verb any word. Just take nouns and adjectives and use them as verbs. Badgering, weaseling, goating… it’s all good.

            1. Sarahnova

              “Weaseling” is definitely a verb, to wit: “He weaselled out of getting me the weekly teapot production figures.”

          2. FRRibs

            “I got his/her goat.”
            “I goated her/him.”

            Slangy, but not unheard of. Not far off from the same meaning as goaded, come to think of it.

        2. fposte

          Brits would probably hear them as similar since they aspirate their mid-word ts in a way Americans don’t, but there is still a difference between an unvoiced t and a d in pronunciation that most Americans will be able to hear.

          (I took a brain training thing that had a section where they would bring really close consonants closer and closer together to train your brain to pick up finer and finer cues. It was really interesting and also really tough–sometimes I just couldn’t believe they weren’t just playing the same sound twice.)

          1. Jamie

            I love this stuff so much – I need to find a forum where I can read about linguistics and regional dialects in all my free time.

            Since we’ve had the discussion about Mary, Merry, and Marry I’ve finally found a source on the net where I could hear the distinction – it was a very pronounced NY accent. All the others – I got nothing, same word.

            But regarding the d’s and t’s – the Chicago accent (which I do not have, but it’s all around me) isn’t the exaggerated spectacle of Da Bears skit from SNL – the d doesn’t replace the th – but it’s subtly added to it. I don’t know how to replicate it, but I know it when I hear it.

            But yes, I am keenly aware that if I’m not conscious of my diction water is wadder and butter is budder …but that’s not a Chicago thing but a great lakes thing…you know…over by dere. ;)

            Oh – and I’ve been meaning to post this when it came up because I thought people here would get a kick out of this – although I’m usually late to things so this might be old news…

            once of the best accent quizes I’ve seen and it’s way more specific than just major city. Although I’d love to take the full version I can’t find it online anymore – but I did do their research thing to add mine to the database.

            http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/12/20/sunday-review/dialect-quiz-map.html?_r=0

              1. Jen RO

                I second the recommendation. I don’t follow the blog closely now, because of lack of time, but they have great posts.

            1. fposte

              Oh, the th sound is just a morass. But I know the Chicago one you mean–there’s less breath and more of a stop, and the tongue’s moved up to the ridge above the teeth–like it’s heading toward a “ch” but is stuck in between.

            2. MaryMary

              I’ve never heard the difference between Mary, merry, and Mary. I’ve had men in noisy bars think I was telling them I was married when I was actually introducing myself. ;-)

              1. Cath in Canada

                Now see, I can totally understand that there are accents that make Mary, marry and merry sound very similar. I have a much harder time understanding how someone who has such an accent still can’t hear the difference when they’re listening to someone with an accent that does pronounce the three words differently.

                e.g. a former colleague had an (Albertan) accent that makes ferry and fairy sound the same. My (northern English) accent makes them sound very different – even the length of time it takes me to say the two words is quite different, and I’ve checked in the mirror and my mouth makes a different shape! And yet this colleague listened to me say “ferry, fairy, ferry, fairy, ferry, fairy” one time*, and claimed to not be able to hear a difference at all. I don’t get it.

                *she’d been confused when I told her I was tired one Monday morning because I’d got home late from a weekend trip to Vancouver Island because of a problem with the fairies.

            3. TK

              Riffing off what I said above, I don’t think saying “wadder” is a Great Lakes thing, I think it’s a general American thing. As an American, someone saying “water” with an actual “t” sound in the middle is just going to sound British to me.

              “Butter” is more complicated. Though I think only Brits say this with a true “t,” Americans diverge on how to say this.

              1. fposte

                It’s not true or untrue, though–it’s just voiced or unvoiced, and one’s just as true as the other.

                1. TK

                  Well, yes, neither is more “true” in the sense of correct or incorrect, they’re just different variations.

                  I’m a linguistics nerd, and I think you and most of the commenters here are using “voiced/unvoiced” in a more laymen’s way that doesn’t line up with how linguists use the terms voiced/voiceless, which is confusing me, but isn’t really your fault.

                  The sound Brits make in the middle of “water” is a voiceless alveolar stop. What we think of as a “d” sound is a voiced alveolar stop– but that’s not actually the sound Americans make in “water,” which is actually an alveolar flap or tap. So from a linguistic perspective, the difference is not whether the sound in the middle is “voiced,” it’s a completely different sound.

                2. fposte

                  And now you’re confusing me, because you’ve been saying it’s the same sound and here you’re identifying them as linguistically different, which was my argument :-).

                3. TK

                  Sorry– it is confusing and I wasn’t being clear. My point is that there are really 3 sounds.

                  The sound in the middle of words like “water” and “ladder” and “latter” is the same for most Americans. But that sound, regardless of whether the word is spelled “t” or “d” or “dd” or whatever, is different from both a regular “t” (as in “top”) or a regular “d” (as in “day”).

                  It’s not a matter of voiced/voiceless, because linguistically speaking, the only difference between a “t” and “d” to start with is that the former is voiceless and the latter voiced. The flap sound in the middle of the words we’ve been discussing is something else entirely.

              2. Sarahnova

                The fun part for you would probably be hearing someone with an Estuary accent (i.e southeast of England working-class) accent pronounce “butter” – with a glottal stop.

                “Bu’ah”. :)

              3. Cath in Canada

                Not just American, either – lots of Canadians soften the Ts in the middle of a word to a D sound, too. (I gave up asking for “wart-er” a few weeks after I arrived here because I had to repeat myself so often. Now I say “wart-er” at home, but “ward-er” if I’m in a restaurant).

                I see a lot of misspellings on Facebook from North American friends that seem to be caused by this, the most amusing being from someone who thinks he’s British and keeps misspelling British slang words – e.g. he’ll talk about a bacon buddy instead of a bacon butty (sandwich), or a hot totty instead of a hot toddy (drink. Hot totty would be something very different indeed). I find this hilarious.

            4. V

              Oh nos! I must have a strong NY accent because Mary, Merry, and Marry sound so different to me I can’t fathom how they could be mistaken for one another. And here I thought I had escaped my mom’s heavy accent . . .

            5. Elizabeth West

              Gah, I’m closer to deep South but I don’t live anywhere near where they say I am most similar.

              But some of the words I use are affectations and aren’t typical for the Central Plains.

        3. K

          Goad and goat are pronounced differently here in much of America, as are metal and medal. In my opinion people need to read more and clean out their ears better.

  6. Valar M.

    You have my sympathy. Way too many work environments where this happens. I understand people have political beliefs and they can be hard to separate – but at work where it can so easily create tension where there otherwise wouldn’t be any, I don’t understand why people press these conversations.

  7. iseeshiny

    Uggggh I’m sorry you have to deal with that guy, he sounds like both my grandfather and a big jerk.

  8. Mike C.

    OP, you start by saying this is a coworker and later say this is a superior – is this a situation where they’re at a higher rank than you but not your boss or a misstatement or funky structure? The reason I ask is because that power imbalance (as you rightly note) changes things considerably.

    The other thing that struck me was your fear of appearing dumb/uninformed/etc. Never, ever be afraid to show that you are intelligent, well informed, aware of current events and so on. Instead, as directly as possible, tell this person you’re not interested in having this discussion with him. Be blunt, be direct, don’t offer reasons why (you not wanting to is plenty of justification!) just tell him that’s how things are going to be. If he cannot accept it, that’s on him, not you.

      1. OP

        Yes, exactly. He’s not technically my supervisor, but he’s been there for quite some time, and you know how being an intern is, pretty much everyone has free reign to tell you what to do.

        1. MousyNon

          Actually, that (that everyone has free reign to tell you what to do) is not necessarily true! While I think it can benefit an intern to “do what everyone tells you to do” if only because it exposes you to multiple potential references and, if you’re lucky, different/interesting projects, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also clarify your boundaries.

          In fact, setting boundaries is excellent preparation for your future career, IMO. Establishing a rapore with your direct supervisor and setting up procedure for how you’re assigned (and by extension, how you should triage) projects is never a bad idea. It can keep you from getting overwhelmed and can strengthen your negotiating position (even if it’s just psychologically) when you’re dealing with asshats (like this one) that like to leverage their position as an employee to be, well, asshats to interns they consider a captive audience.

    1. NoPantsFridays

      Yes, this — personally, I wouldn’t feign ignorance, I’d just shut down the discussion with some of the lines Alison and others have provided.

    2. Natalie Anne Lanoville

      I think one should never, ever be afraid to appear unintelligent (even if it isn’t true). IMO a few rounds of ‘Revolutionary War? Was that when the American Idol judges were all fired?’ Will dull this guy’s appetite for poking at her.

  9. Sascha

    Disengage as best you can! I used to work with a guy very similar. He would try to get me (and a few other coworkers) into debates about ANYTHING, and was relentless. If I liked chocolate ice cream, he’d debate me that vanilla was better, and badger me about until I said I like vanilla, too. He would then accuse me of “not really like chocolate since you also like vanilla,” and manipulate what I said. He would do this on so many different topics. After a while, I got the sense he was doing it to be in control – even if he didn’t like vanilla himself (his stance did not matter at all), he wanted me to SAY IT just to prove to himself he could get me to.

    After a while I just totally disengaged from him and stopped talking to him about anything non-work. I changed the subject, did not answer non-work questions, if he lingered in the doorway I would ask him to leave so I could get my work done. I would not even acknowledge non-work topics. Eventually he got bored and left me alone, but he then started badgering other coworkers. He got another job after a while and I can’t be happier that he’s gone.

    I think if you disengage, he’ll get bored and leave you alone. Be boring. It doesn’t matter what else he thinks. I can totally sympathize with not wanting to appear unintelligent or apathetic, but you will appear to be much more professional than him to other people if you disengage and let him look like the idiot for badgering you about this stuff.

    P.S. My former coworker is the chair-shaker for those who’ve heard that story.

    1. Shortie

      I have met a few people like this over my 18 years in the workforce. The worst (yes, I am totally generalizing and using anecdata) are people who fancy themselves music aficionados: They find out your favorite band, quiz you on album titles, dates, or the band members’ names, and when you don’t know that because you, um, frankly don’t care, they pronounce you “not a real fan.” Nevermind that you know every word to the vast majority of songs the band has ever recorded …

      Agree with disengaging. What Sascha said above in the last paragraph is very well put.

      1. Elizabeth West

        You see that a lot with nerd stuff. If you don’t know every single bit of trivia or every episode title of a show or where every cue on the soundtrack is located, they snark all over you. Thank goodness the uberfans I hang out with in our Doctor Who group are the enthusiastic, inclusive kind and not the snobby, judgey kind.

        1. Melissa

          I get that with comic book stuff, especially because I am a woman. I’m a fan of comic book-related things, but not the comics themselves – mostly the expanded universe around them (cartoons, movies, video games, etc.) I will be quizzed about the minutiae of mid-1970s or 1980s comic book lore. Sometimes I know the answer and I just get sullen silence, but when I don’t, inevitably I am “not a real fan.” Or occasionally I hear the ridiculous argument that people who play certain types of game consoles are “not real gamers.”

          Okay, I’m sure DC and Marvel and Nintendo love my money though.

    1. Turanga Leela

      Well, not exactly. You can’t engage in political activity at work, but you can absolutely talk about political issues and current affairs. You might even have to for your job–for example, talking about recent Supreme Court cases might be extremely relevant for deciding how your agency should approach its mission and what it is allowed to do.

      I had a similar experience as a young, female intern in a federal government office where I was in a cultural/political minority, and I handled it by engaging and having the conversations. I’m not saying that the OP should do this, since it sounds like she doesn’t want to, but it’s a valid option. You just have to be very careful to keep conversations light and friendly.

      When I was at that job, I never sought out political conversations, but there were senior people in the office who liked to talk about politics for fun, and I would respond if they asked me what I thought about something. I wound up having really strong relationships with some of these men (they were all men), who totally disagreed with my politics but thought I was fun to talk to. This is the flip side to being the young woman in the office–sometimes, instead of thinking you’re ditzy, other people think you’re “spunky” (which is not a word that I usually use, but I bet they would). I’ve been able to make that identity work for me.

    2. Chrissi

      Not quite – you cannot wear political buttons, hang political paraphernalia in our cubes, put political bumper stickers on our personal cars if we use them for work, or anything that could be misconstrued as campaigning at work, but you are free to express your opinion (see section 7.3 of the Wikipedia article you site).

      I also work in an apolitical government agency, and that’s what we’ve always been taught. At the same time, we are VERY committed to being apolitical, so everyone is a little wary of discussing politics unless you know each other very well.

      1. De Minimis

        We had a good discussion about that a while back….the Hatch Act doesn’t prevent people from talking about political topics at work if they’re just talking with each other and not acting in some kind of official capacity. However, I think a lot of federal workplaces tend to err on the side of caution to where they may tell people things are prohibited under the Act when they really aren’t.

        1. Jamie

          I don’t work for the government, but this sounds like a similar overreaction to the urban myth that it’s illegal to give a negative reference so some companies batten down the hatches and refuse to allow any at all – just name, title, and employment dates.

          It’s a complete and total urban myth that it’s illegal to be less than glowing but some very official people in organizations believe it and cling to it as if it were in the constitution. Makes me twitchy.

  10. Mike C.

    On another note, this reminds me of the only cool thing about my last job. This workplace was incredibly diverse (I counted six different languages being spoken in the lunchroom once!) and had lots of folks who came from places where it was customary to discuss politics publicly and passionately. But here’s the thing – since they were used to it, they knew how to do it the right way. They depersonalized the beliefs of a person, arguing the ideas rather than the person and they knew not to push someone too hard.

    Yeah, people generally didn’t budge too much from their positions, but they were forced to hear “the opposing side” not from strawmen but from their friends and coworkers. It forces everyone to examine how they looked at various policies. Furthermore, I still remember that even the guy who was polar opposite from me, there were tons of things we could agree on.

    Once lunch was over, it was back to work until the next break. No big deal. That’s something we in the US really need to learn – how to publicly interact with the people around us regarding political issues. It’s too easy to never say anything in public and silo ourselves off in our particular camps and that just doesn’t lead to anything good.

    1. Mints

      I think this is why I feel the need to disagree too. I actually don’t like debating, it stresses me out, but lots of times I do feel the need to say “No I disagree because (one sentence explanation).” I don’t think I’ll change anyone’s mind in that sentence, but at least I’ll be an example of someone who believes X who is otherwise a nice normal person. Like I’m not a man-hating welfare queen druggie or whatever stereotype they think about leftists. At the very least, I want to disagree to show that reasonable people have these opinions

      1. Turanga Leela

        I completely agree with this. I come across as very friendly and non-threatening, and that puts me in a good position to say something in the type of situation you describe.

        I particularly try to speak up in two types of situations. One is if the person asks a semi-rhetorical question, like “Why would anyone think that ____?” and I have a straightforward answer. The second is if someone says something blatantly racist or otherwise offensive. Plenty of people who don’t care about being politically correct will care if they hurt someone they like and respect. I think there’s a difference between knowing you’re being offensive and realizing that you’ve actually offended a person.

        1. Turanga Leela

          Also, this is even more important with friends than with colleagues. I try not to get too personal at work, but with friends, the answer to “Why would you believe ___?” can sometimes be, “Because of this thing that happened to me,” followed by the story. It’s not so much that it changes people’s minds as that it changes the tone of the conversation.

  11. Mrs. Badcrumble

    My heated political conversations are usually with my Dad which are a little harder to escape, but one of the more politic (heh) ways I’ve found is to think of an analogous and mildly peculiar situation in history and switch the conversation to that and either it peters out or now we’re talking about history. “You think X, Y, and Z about the housing bubble makes it special Bob, but you know what economic bubble has always fascinated me was the Dutch Tulip Crash of the 1600s.” “Yeah, racial tensions are a thing. Maybe we should switch to a Marshall Tito-esque government policy like in Soviet Yugoslavia.” The more obscure the better. Like me? I’m a registered Libertarian, but if anyone asks, I ascribe to a system of Bismarckian Realpolitik. Shuts ’em right up.

    Really, though, refusing to engage is probably the way to go. I’d try that first.

    1. Jamie

      This is great. When I was new at a job once and hadn’t yet gone beyond small talk and company manners the conversation turned to politics and one person was asked a question to which she responded that she was a registered member of the Whig party and as such she’s still waiting for a viable candidate to repeal the US expansion into Texas and California.

      I made a friend that day because I was the only one in the room who got the joke.

      1. fposte

        This was exactly what I was thinking. “I just can’t get behind Mr. Polk’s War,” or “Bring back Altgeld, that’s what I say.” It would have the considerable benefit of changing the interrogation into something amusing for me.

        1. Jamie

          Ha – goes to show regional context matters. If you opined about wanting to bring back Atgeld in Chicago you’d very definitely be expressing a political opinion.

          To the rest of the world Atgeld is a former Governor of Illinois. In Chicago it’s a housing project surrounded by landfills of the some of the densest concentrations haz mat pollution in North America.

          (Actually I had to look up who he was – I never knew who it was named after. I’m not that well read.)

          Little trivia – I was surprised to see they are still up as most projects have been torn down in the last 14 years or so – but they are a historic landmark and it’s the neighborhood where President Obama was a community activist – he mentions it in his book. I wouldn’t know anything without the internet.

          1. fposte

            I put Altgeld in for you :-). Actually, he was a pretty cool governor who pardoned the surviving accused Haymarket bombing and ended up working with Clarence Darrow.

      2. JMegan

        Sam Seaborn (West Wing), to a political rival:

        Oh, I wasn’t calling you an idiot, sir. The brand-new state of Georgia was.

        1. Chrissi

          Oh please give me context on that! I remember the line and I remember that it was in reference to something historical (Louisiana Purchase maybe?), but I can’t quite remember the joke (or burn, really).

          1. fposte

            I’m pretty sure it’s in “The Short List,” and it’s talking to the likely Supreme Court nominee played by Ken Howard. (Spoiler: he’s not nominated.)

          2. fposte

            Ah, found it; I was right. The character is arguing that the rights given by the Bill of Rights limit constitutional rights to those enumerated in the Bill, which was exactly the point that made some Georgian legislators dissent to the Bill’s approval.

            (Which just reminds me of what a wonderfully wonky show that was.)

        2. OP

          Josh Lyman: You’re listening to me, but you’re not understanding me.
          Toby Ziegler: No, I’m disagreeing with you. That doesn’t mean I’m not listening to you or understanding what you’re saying – I’m doing all three at the same time.

    2. HR “Gumption”

      “Dutch Tulip Crash of the 1600s”

      And some of us have never recovered.

      1. Chinook

        Noooo…don’t bring up the Dutch Tulip Crash to canadians in the oil industry!!! It was recently used to explain why the oilsands (tarsands to those who don’t realize that the tar naturally oozes to the surface anyway) will destroy the Canadian economy. They called it the “dutch disease” and we are still trying to explain to people why it is more complicated than that (but I think we should take pride in the fact that they had to reach 400 years into history to find a way to justify it being wrong).

        1. Chinook

          Which is just proof that anything that may seem inocuous could still cause a firestorm in the wrong situation.

    3. iseeshiny

      I know I’m being nit-picky, but Yugoslavia was never part of the Soviet Union. In fact, Stalin tried to have Tito assassinated so many times it became kind of a joke. Just sayin.

      I do love your strategy though!

      1. Mrs. Badcrumble

        And see! That’s why it’s perfect. It completely derails the original conversation.

      2. FRRibs

        Slightly off-topic, but I was at a wargaming convention at West Point a few years back, and there were at least three copies of the game “Tito” up for auction. When the third copy came up for bidding to groans from the audience, the auctioneer mentioned that THIS copy was a rare edition: someone had actually opened the box and cut out the pieces! (Not a very popular game.)

    4. Muriel Heslop

      Our break room can get a little heated and my stock responses are, “Tippecanoe and Tyler, too!” or “54-40 or fight!” People just ignore me now…just like I like it.

  12. OriginalYup

    Don’t take the bait. It’s clear that he’s not actually trying to enter into a thoughtful conversation with you about how your two political perspectives vary — if that were the case, your concerns about being tactful and polite would be considerate and well-placed. But this coworker just sounds like the office sh*t starter, who enjoys arguing and likes getting people riled up. If you mentally shift his questions from the the pile labeled “awkward work topics” to “impolite questions asked in bad faith,” then you might feel less tentative about shutting him down. No need to do it rudely, of course, but just mentally treat it as though he’s asking how much you weigh or how much money you make: “Not up for discussion, Bob. Do you have the TPS reports?”

      1. OriginalYup

        In my ideal world, the OSS is issued an orange vest for visibility and a little bell for warning so that we will know them when they approach.

  13. C Average

    It’s really interesting to see everyone’s feedback on this. I agree with everyone who encourages the OP to just refuse to engage and to repeat some relatively banal variation of “not gonna talk politics at work, sorry.”

    My workplace is overwhelmingly very, very liberal. As part of a project recently, I interviewed each member of our leadership team to learn about them and their roles, and I discovered that one of our directors comes from an extremely conservative religion and holds very conservative views. He’s often standing right in the room, saying nothing, as other colleagues vehemently agree with each other about one liberal cause or another. I find myself wondering what he thinks about working in this atmosphere.

    Talking politics at work isn’t a problem for me, but talking politics with my family definitely is. My go-to response is something along the lines of “You know, nothing good is going to come of a conversation between you and me about this. I’m not going to change my mind, and neither are you. So can we just skip the conversation and agree to disagree? Cool, thanks.”

    I’m realizing lately that I have a particular skill for making a statement in a way that doesn’t invite follow-up, whether it’s “No thanks, just one drink for me,” “I’m going to forego this meeting,” “Yes, we’re having fish for dinner,” or, “Mom, we’re not going to talk about gay marriage.”

    1. MaryMary

      I find this so interesting, because I’m in the opposite situation. my workplace is very, very conservative (one of my coworkers has a Ronald Reagan calendar – for 2014 – in his office) and I am on the other side of the fence. When political topics come up, I keep my mouth firmly shut. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing my side a disservice by not disagreeing and trying to educate my coworkers, and then I decide it’s better to keep the peace in the workplace. It’s unlikely I’m going to change anyone’s mind by having an office debate.

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        And I’m in a third position — I’m very middle of the road, neither politically liberal nor conservative (nor libertarian). People who have animated conversations are always on one side or another. If I speak up, no matter which side it’s coming from, I’ll be considered to be from the opposite side. So I keep my mouth shut.

        1. Jamie

          I feel similarly, and it’s much more difficult than when I was younger and staunchly a member of a major party.

          It’s not just the inappropriateness of talking politics at work, but it takes time to express an opinion on some things that’s not cut and dried for me – because most of my opinions don’t fall along black and white lines of good and evil – most of mine are based on my beliefs but also the pragmatic solutions most of which involve some kind of compromise.

          It’s much easier for people who are solidly one side or the other of an issue, or those who stick to a party line.

          1. Adam

            This would be why I rarely discuss politics with anyone ever. Even in real life among friends, where we’re not prone to falling to message board trolling and hurling condescending cat gifs at each other, there’s still a little bit of the sensitive mindset where “If you disagree with something I feel very passionate about, I’m going to take it personally”. Sometimes it’s really better to just leave well enough alone.

          2. MaryMary

            That’s the other reason I keep my mouth shut regarding politics. I do not strongly identify with a political party, while most of my coworkers do. A couple of the ones who do know that I’m liberal will try to “get me” by criticizing the president, and they’re surprised when I agree with them on a certain point, or if I say that the situation is complicated and I don’t know what the right answer is.

            1. Kelly L.

              My answer to a lot of political questions is “I’m sure glad I’m not the one who has to decide that.” Because I do have opinions and theories, but there are a lot of situations where all options suck in one way or another, and I’m glad my everyday decisions don’t affect The Fate of the World all that much.

    2. Elysian

      Ugh, I wish that worked with my parents. I tried once “Dad, we can talk about how annoying the neighbor’s roosters are, but his race makes no difference to it.” “But they’re extra annoying BECAUSE they’re Mexican roosters!” and then I had to just walk away. Maybe I have a knack for making statements that do require follow-up. :)

      1. NoPantsFridays

        My dad also inserts race into comments where it’s not relevant, even very positive comments. That is, he refers to his black colleagues as *black* colleagues, Chinese colleagues as *Chinese* colleagues, etc. yet conspicuously omits the race/color of white colleagues, who he refers to as just colleagues with no race/color attached. I’ve taken to asking him the race of the colleague he is referring to when he omits it. Of course, I know the answer — I ask to show him that the omission is actually conspicuous and I have noticed. Now he just doesn’t bring up any colleagues to me (which is fine; they aren’t my colleagues, they’re his).

        1. Kai

          My mom does this too! I don’t think I’ve ever heard her say anything overtly racist, but when she’s talking about someone she will tell you that they were black, Latino, etc. when it has absolutely no relevance to the rest of the story. Very interesting.

          1. Anx

            I notice this a lot with older (boomer aged) people. Usually the most racist part of the conversation is the omission of descriptions for white people and upholding white=default=normal=real American.

          2. Anon

            My parents also do this and I don’t understand. They don’t follow it with a racist comment or anything else about race. Why do people do this?

            1. FRRibs

              Going out on a limb here, but sometimes when you’re looking for a distinguishing characteristic when trying to pick someone out of the crowd in conversation, physical characteristics make obvious, visual cues…especially for people who were not raised in very diverse areas or were raised in a time when media was focussed mostly on the majority demographic.

              “So the other day Joe…” “Who’s Joe?” “You know…that guy with the blue hair” or “the person with full sleeve tattoos” or “that big guy who is the state powerlifting champion”. All make it easier to narrow down the crowd to help the other person figure out who you’re talking about.

              I don’t take such things as automatically racist…acknowledging difference is not a bad thing; judging difference is.

              1. C Average

                This is a great point.

                As I was reading the comments above, I thought, “My parents do this, too!”

                But, they live in a small town in Idaho. Saying someone was black or Asian would be a meaningful distinction there, because there are very few minorities where they live. A high school friend married a woman of Japanese descent, and she’ll always be “Casey’s wife, the Asian woman” because she’s the only Asian woman in town.

                I think your explanation not only makes sense but is a way more charitable assumption, so I’m adopting it, too.

              2. NoPantsFridays

                For what it’s worth, I didn’t say it was racist. I know you’re not responding directly to me, but I just wanted to clear that up. :)

                I just pointed out that my dad does it. As I said, he mentions race even with very positive comments. It’s not a negative thing. It’s weird though because his department is like a color rainbow, where whiteness would also be a distinguishing characteristic, yet white colleagues’ race/color is always omitted.

                Your explanation makes sense in a lot of situations — e.g. “Oh, Bob? He’s that tall, black, bearded fellow over there” can be a helpful identifier to someone looking for Bob. But, in the case I’m talking about, I don’t know any of my dad’s colleagues, so he’s not helping me identify them by mentioning distinguishing characteristics. He’s just inserting the race for some reason I can’t figure out.

    3. Adam

      As someone who is “kind of” in a similar position it can be a little awkward. My organization should be apolitical although it has taken stances on things that could be argued as political, but really it’s more being surrounded by coworkers who you know generally don’t agree with you on certain things. But that’s ok.

      While it’s important to all work together people still do carve out niches were we can be open and expressive with little reservation because hey, it feels nice when people agree with us. Sometimes that happens at work; sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s not like politics always has to be the center of discussion. I actually don’t mind a little debate when it’s respectful, but I’m not one to usually engage.

      My usual tactic is to not interrupt people when they’re having such exchanges. If for some reason I can’t leave the situation I’ll be quiet and polite for a little a bit and then gently change the subject when I feel the other participants in the conversation have reached a natural stopping point.

    4. Ellie H

      My workplace is overwhelmingly liberal too but I really dislike talking about politics at work, or even in mixed social groups when I’m not totally sure of everyone’s views – at least the kind of talking about politics where it’s like “Well we all think this, so obviously that,” etc. I think it’s really important not to create an “us vs. them” mindset where the going rhetoric is that conservatives are wrong (let alone stupid or misinformed) and it’s bad anyway because it can create an echo chamber where you get lazy about what your own views are and how to articulate them cogently. I wouldn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable about his or her own views or to discourage discussion that’s not unanimous. It’s so much better to hear varied viewpoints; even if you don’t change your mind it helps you shape your own opinions and beliefs.

  14. Student

    The reason that there are men who think it’s legitimate to interfere with women’s decisions on birth control is because there are not enough women who tell men how important birth control is to us. If I were you, I’d tell him what I really thought.

    He’s not your manager, so he can’t fire you for your opinion. He’s your co-worker, and you are empowered to disagree with him, tell him what you think, and defend your position. It doesn’t matter that you are a grad student or an intern. Lots of people more powerful than you will try to tell you what to think and what to say and what to do – when you comply, you give them more power over you. If you keep your mouth shut, then you’re implying agreement with this guy.

    Also – you don’t have to indulge him in quizzes if you don’t want to. That doesn’t really sound like a mutually enjoyable way to socialize – it makes it sound more like you are acting as entertainment for this guy.

    1. Chrissi

      I used to operate under the assumption that if I kept my mouth shut I was implying agreement with what was said – it’s exhausting to argue that much. Pick your battles – this guy doesn’t seem worth it.

      1. fposte

        Agreed, especially since I think the likelihood of the OP making work harder for herself is greater than the likelihood of her reshaping anybody’s views.

        If you’re concerned your viewpoint might be misconstrued, you can also go for a mild “Eh, I don’t see it that way. But about those reports…” Yes, he’ll probably push, but it’s really hard to make somebody fight who’s determined to work instead.

      2. Jamie

        Totally agree. I’ve never once seen someone change their opinion on a hot button topic because an acquaintance expressed a civil and opposing opinion. Not saying it doesn’t happen, but the likelihood of it getting weird is a lot greater than any real change being affected.

        I’ve had people ask me about birth control, abortion, all kind of politically charged issues and I have one standard response that always works: “Is this an IT issue now, too?” with mock horror and a smile. It’s funny if you work with me and the running joke of the wide range of non IT stuff that gets shoved into my wheelhouse – either way no one pursues the matter.

        Humor works for people receptive to clues – keeps it light.

        1. FRRibs

          “I wish the government worked better.”

          “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”

      3. Magda

        I agree. And I might not even mind the exhaustion necessarily, but there are some people who just want to wind you up. They don’t really care to be educated, and attempting to do so just ends in your frustration (which gives them exactly the reaction they want). When I sense I’m dealing with one of those people, I actually take satisfaction in keeping a completely flat expression and moving it along.

      4. iseeshiny

        Cosigned. I hold really strong political beliefs which I never debate at work. I’m not going to change anyone’s mind, they’re not going to change mine, and the political atmosphere has become so charged and polarized (and just plain nasty) – I don’t want to bring that into my workplace. I might say “I don’t agree with that” but always in a way that’s clear that I’m not open to further discussion.

        I would also disagree with your first sentence entirely, both the implication that if enough ladies just explain that birth control is important that the men who are against it will change their minds about it, as well as the implication that it’s anyone’s personal responsibility to go around educating their coworkers.

        1. Jamie

          I’ve done that in passing when people make erroneous assumptions about what they think I believe. I didn’t do this for a long time, because I don’t care, but Alison made the point here ages ago about how when people outside the stereotypical groups make passing comments it can affect change. Or not, but at least it’s out there that you can’t stop making assumptions about people’s beliefs based on their lifestyle or where they live.

          I’ve had people assume of course I wouldn’t be in favor of legalizing marijuana – so I will correct them. I don’t get into a long discussion but it’s generally pretty funny and along these lines – do you smoke pot? Nope. Would you if it were legal? Nope – tried it in college and it makes me headachy and sleepy. Not my thing. So why should it be legal if you don’t like it. I don’t like cookies with nuts in them either, but I don’t think they should be illegal. Besides, I hate crime and I am not a fan of how high my taxes are. Legalize it and less crime, more money that’s not coming out of mine. Where do I sign.

          Same with gay marriage. People have assumed because I’m suburban and Catholic I must be against this. I am not, why on earth would I think other people’s choice to marry their partners affects my marriage in any way – unless they choose to marry my husband. But so far, that hasn’t come up.

          My point being so many people break the world up into “liberals” and “conservatives” so it’s good sometimes for people with this mindset to see that not everyone stays in the box they put them in – and that people can be very conservative in some areas and liberal in others and the world isn’t as much “us against them” as some would have you believe. Some people truly do watch too much cable news and think those of us in flyover country are one big monolith and it’s fun sometimes to toss it out there that it’s not always the case.

          But I’ll still decline to get into big discussions and I don’t bring stuff like this up – just when people make assumptions about me I’ll dispel the myth, which can have the collateral benefit of being kind of entertaining.

    2. Mints

      I have this inner conflict where I’m very politically minded and have opinions on almost everything, but I’m also really nonconfrontational. So in a lot of situations someone starts saying something political and I’m thinking like “Oh that is so stupid. That’s completely wrong” but I won’t say anything out loud unless it goes on for a while. And then I’ll say one sentence like “Yeah I just disagree that employers should interfere with healthcare.” (Or even more broadly “Tax policy is complicated”)
      And just repeat that sentence a few times without engaging further. It’s the balance for me between not wanting to argue but wanting to express dissent

    3. JoAnna

      Perhaps you’re not aware, but Hobby Lobby still pays for sixteen forms of birth control (they only ones they took issue with were four that were potential abortifacients).

      Also, “declining to pay for abortifancients” =/= “interefering with women’s decisions on birth control.” Woman still have the same power to make decisions about birth control as they had before, especially given that HL has never before paid for the four options in question (the SCOTUS merely says that the government can’t force them to do so).

      If there are HL employees who desperately want their abortifacients paid for by their employer, they are free to seek other employment with the myriad companies who are willing to do so.

      1. annie

        Student and JoAnna, I’m sure you both mean well, so I hope you don’t mind my saying this, but I feel like your comments are an example of how people are goaded into these types of debates, and why it might be best to avoid this conversations at work, especially if you know the person is on the other side of your opinions. Like, it’s pretty clear how you both feel about it, and I could very easily be drawn into a debate right now about the accuracy of JoAnna’s use of the word “abortifancients” but that’s not appropriate on this blog as it would derail the topic at hand. But because this is a a topic that brings up strong feelings, it is hard to walk away from it – for people on all sides of the issue! And maybe Student, JoAnna and I, in this imaginary scenario, are normally great coworkers – maybe we are even cafeteria buddies or hang out buddies at the company picnic because we all hate being forced to play volleyball – but after we’ve been drawn into an unnecessary and heated political conversation, maybe now we feel awkward about it or think the others are loons and that spills over into how we think of each other in general and how our relationship works, and that is a bummer. I think you really have to know your audience well in order to have these types of conversations successfully.

      2. I know I shouldn't...

        And Annie is exactly right that this is why topics like this should be avoided…but…

        Hobby Lobby DID cover all those forms of birth control in the past, right up until the ACA, and those four forms of birth control they suddenly object to are not abortifacients.

      3. A. D. Kay

        Not this red herring again. Your comment makes at least two factual errors. First, those four types of birth control are most certainly NOT abortifacients. Emergency birth control like Plan B works by delaying ovulation. The IUD works by making the environment hostile to sperm. The IUD is one of the safest and most effective forms of birth control available. You have been misinformed. (In any case, a woman is not pregnant until the fertilized egg implants–80% of the time, the egg does not implant.) The Hobby Lobby decision also makes it clear that all 20 types of BC are being targeted, and the four they object to is merely the thin edge of the wedge.

        Second, employees are not “paying for” their employees’ BC. Employees pay into their insurance coverage, which is provided as an employment benefit. You are also wrong about HL’s former coverage: HL used to offer insurance that covered BC, but they yanked it. Odd that HL still invests in pharma companies that make BC, though.

        Finally, your comment that people “are free to see other employment” is simply cruel. Most of HL’s employees are low wage workers who have few local opportunities.

    4. Who are you??

      It seems the OP’s position is “I don’t want to discuss politics with my co-worker”. I think you’re assuming that simply because she has liberal opinions she wants to share them. From what I read, she doesn’t. It’s okay to have an opinion. It’s okay for it to be a different opinion than someone else’s. It’s not okay to assume that your opinion is the right one and that you’re going to educate someone or change someone’s mind. (I know this was not what you were stating in your comment, I just noticed a trend in the comments and thought I’d add it here.) Saying nothing is the right answer here. I had a co-worker who was always trying to draw others into political arguments with her. I refused to engage. She’d ask me a question about the presidential race (we live in NH where the Primary is all anyone talks about every 2 years!) and I would say something like “oh I haven’t had time to read up on them, too busy here at work. All of my co-workers keep trying to talk about the presidential race and they’re turning into a bunch of slackers.” (Said with a lot of humor). She’d smile and leave me alone.

  15. B

    Tell him you have decided you are not going to talk politics at work because there can be so many differing opinions. If he does not stop, keep repeating it over and over again. You are the one that needs to disengage from this and from there he will learn.

  16. Magda

    Do not engage! I took similar bait once, when I was younger and at my first job. In theory it seems like it should feel great to just put the other person on blast, but the reality was that I felt really stupid afterwards. Not because of the political content of the discussion itself, but because I had allowed myself to be goaded into an argument that was really not professional.

    Fortunately there was no impact to my career since the guy worked in another department, but it was definitely a lesson in not mud-wrestling with a pig.

  17. chewbecca

    I’m curious – does he know you differ from him politically? It was hard to tell from the letter.

    If he does, I 100% agree with Alison’s advice. If not, I’m worried that telling him so might intensify the discussions. He might try to make you justify your beliefs, and argue the ways in which he sees them as wrong.

    I don’t really have any replacement scripts, though. That’s the sort of thing I usually come here for.

    1. OP

      I don’t think he knows how much I differ from him politically, though he has to know that I’m at least a bit to his left. He strikes me as the type that can’t quite grasp that someone can be informed about an issue and talk about it rationally and yet still come to a completely conclusion/opinion about what should be done.

      Part of why I’ve tried not to engage too much is that I dread the exhausting, unproductive conversation you describe.

  18. NavyLT

    “I’m not going to fight about politics at work. That’s what being facebook friends with high school classmates and distant relatives is for.”

  19. OP

    OP here, thanks all for your thoughtful advice. I suspect the situation has just conveniently resolved itself, as my desk was moved in some office reshuffling and now he’d need to go out of his way to come talk to me. I think the point that he’s having fun and probably thinks I’m enjoying it too is right on target. He has stated flat out to me and to others that he is bored by his work.

    I think what was really getting to me was the way he jumped back and forth and blurred the line between obscure trivia and his own political beliefs that made it feel like I had to know the name of the best pitcher the Cleveland Indians ever had in order for him to respect my right to an opinion about whether they should change their mascot.

    1. fposte

      Sounds like he just wanted to keep moving goalposts to “This is why your opinion doesn’t matter” grass.

Comments are closed.