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.”