Work as Torture

This issue is vaguely political and international in its appeal. Mostly it’s just amazing. I’m late to this story, but can’t resist it. There is a lawsuit in Utah over, well read this quote from the story in The Daily Herald of Provo, Utah (my first real newspaper employer):

“In the suit, (Chad) Hudgens alleged that in May 2007, Joshua Christopherson, his former supervisor at Prosper, had other employees hold him down while Christopherson poured a gallon jug of water over his face to simulate drowning as part of a motivational exercise. Afterward, the lawsuit states, Christopherson told the other employees that he wanted them to work as hard at making sales as Hudgens was working to breathe.”

The purpose for the waterboarding: motivation. I pulled a quote from another story in the Salt Lake Tribune that is no longer available online. This explains the inspiration behind the exercise.

Ellis [the company’s president] said the exercise was a dramatization of a story in which a young man asks Socrates to become his teacher. Socrates responds by plunging the student’s head underwater and telling him he will learn once his desire for knowledge is as great as his desire to breathe.

A Washington Post story, Team-Building or Torture? Court Will Decide, provides the most complete information on the entire incident, including that there is a link to Donald Trump on this. I’m not saying Trump had anything to do with this, but he is connected.

The company’s general counsel, George Brunt, has the best quotes:

“We’re not the mean waterboarding company that people think we are.”

“I don’t know if this would even be an issue if it weren’t for Guantanamo Bay.”

“But we’re not going to pay to keep it out of the media, though it’s tempting.”

Earlier there was an image on this post that at least one person, justifiably, took offense to. The image was intended to be funny and to connect to the post here. The employee in this story was using waterboarding, a nasty practice, to inspire someone. The image was meant to reflect that same disconnect, something many consider to beautiful or inspiring and attach it something heinous. Upon reflection, enough people don’t get the connection that it only seems offensive. I’m also swayed by the argument that waterboarding is too fresh an issue to be made light of in this way. My apologies. — Steven Gardner

3 thoughts on “Work as Torture

  1. “…Joshua Christopherson, his former supervisor at Prosper, had other employees hold him down while Christopherson poured a gallon jug of water over his face to simulate drowning as part of a motivational exercise….”

    Joshua Christopherson is one sick puppy….and someone apparently unable to inspire his employees without trying to harm them first. No company worth doing business with will subject their employees to torture, duress and physical harm.

    Their product/s must be pretty bad and a hard sell.
    my opinion…Sharon O’Hara

  2. This reminds me a little of that show Jack Ass , but the employer made another persn do it . Which I guess makes it a new show , Sorry Ass .

    Unbelievable .. I would hope the guy wins the law suit big time if it is true . I guess if any of the folks are innocent and get out of Guantanamo Bay ,they can come and work for this guy , they can say they have experience .

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