June 29, 2009

The left took an intellectual drubbing on Ricci

The ignorance and just plain dumbness of the purveyors of conventional wisdom is one of the most obvious lessons of the Ricci case. They got drubbed in the Supreme Court decision in large part because they don't know anything about topics like testing and couldn't think rationally about it even if they did.

Consider this statement today from the Washington Post-owned Newsweek by Slate's regular Supreme Court reporter Dahlia Lithwick:
Once upon a time, civil rights laws had two vehicles—one forbidding "disparate treatment" (overt racial discrimination) and one prohibiting disparate impact (discriminatory effects, regardless of intent). These two vehicles have been chugging along side-by-side for years, ostensibly to the same destination, until today, when they suddenly turned on each other and charged.

Stop for a second and savor just how stupid her assertion is.

Who could make a career reporting on legal controversies and simply not get until 6/29/2009 that there is a fundamental contradiction in both theory and practice between abolishing disparate impact discrimination and abolishing disparate treatment discrimination?

Clearly, the Slate team largely thinks about civil rights not in terms of equal protection of the laws, but in terms of "Who? Whom?"

Still, doesn't that get boring after awhile?

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

Does it get Boring?

Not to the liberals who read Slate. 50 years from now they'll still be writing about the 1960's Civil Rights struggle and the Holocaust.

Anonymous said...

They got drubbed in the Supreme Court decision in large part because they don't know anything about topics like testing and couldn't think rationally about it even if they did.

Steve, I wish that were true. But I think in reality they only lost because they lacked the votes. By some miracle Bush appointed actual conservative justices -- Roberts and Alito -- to replace Rehnquist (conservative) and O'Connor (Kennedyesque finger-to-the-winder). Given her previous incoherence on AA, O'Connor would have been the swing vote the other way, for sure.

Bill R said...

Exscuse my ignorance, but what does "who, Whom" mean?

Anonymous said...

The MSM - in addition to being evil - is just flat out lazy and stupid.

It's rather funny that, for all the MSMs arrogance that they are indispensable, you can find far better legal analysis at blogs like Volokh Conspiracy than at the Washington Post.

agnostic said...

It's explanatory role may be minor, but note that the two dingbats from Slate you just wrote about, Bazelon and Lithwick, are both 37, making them born almost at the ground-zero year for Generation X (which was 1970 or '71).

They spent their undergrad years, when they're most susceptible to contracting loony ideas, during the the generalized political / social hysteria of the early '90s (PC, Rodney King, Third Wave feminism, the movie Philadelphia, etc.).

I'm sure their fellow travelers in other cohorts are stupid too, but they and the Baby Boomers are particularly oblivious to basic truths. When you come of age during a hysteria, there's no room for ambivalence -- "which side are you on?" -- so they're going to be more idiotic to listen to.

al fin said...

Critical developmental windows have shut on the left.

Japanese children cannot distinguish between the "r" and "l" sounds in English, because their neural developmental window for being able to hear that distinction closed before the distinction became meaningful.

Likewise, children of the leftist university cannot distinguish the subtleties between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome, because their developmental window to understand that conceptual distinction closed before anyone suggested the distinction was meaningful.

They live in an echo chamber, what did you expect? Their conceptual vocabulary is impoverished by groupthink. They never had to defend their ideas rationally to someone who was capable of logical thought, and thus duly skeptical.

Anonymous said...

OT: What is the over/under here on when a slavery reparations bill gets passed?

Obama's first term or his second?

My feeling is that this is going to blow up just like gay marriage did. Overnight from fringe to litmus test.


http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2009/06/18/Senate-resolution-apologizes-for-slavery/UPI-79551245352867/

Senate resolution apologizes for slavery

Chris said...

Is it me, or does Slate have an unusually un-Sotomayorean ethnic balance among their staff?

Dennis Mangan said...

"Lenin, with his knack for hortatory pungency, reduced the past and future alike to two pronouns and a question mark: "Who—whom?" No verb was necessary. It meant who would prevail over whom? And the question was largely rhetorical, implying that the answer was never in doubt. Lenin and those who followed him would prevail over "them," whoever they were."

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,953313-6,00.html

Anonymous said...

Thanks for bringing this distinction up Steve.

I remember trying to talk through the logic behind disparate impact in my socratic-method lite undergrad classes. The problem with disparate impact is that it is so terrible to lower class whites. When your doing an undergrad at a non-prestige school surrounded by the children of middle class whites the disparate impact logic just doesn't make sense. The professors have to teach you to gain some upper class white values and white guilt.

Lugash said...

I am Lugash.

Steve,

When Ricci first came into the news, I believe you asked why firefighters fought discrimination cases so hard. You said it boiled down to the fact that firemen are brave. While that's certainly true, I think there is another reason.

Firemen have a target they can fight, much like aggrieved minorities can.

Corporate America has largely insulated itself from charges of disparate impact in testing. They do this through requiring college degrees or other certifications that they don't test for. This split gives them the fig leaf they need.

"You want to be a loan officer? You need a business degree?".

"You want to be a corporate lawyer? You need a law degree".

"You want to work on our computer networks? You need a CCNA."

In the Ricci case, the city of New Haven couldn't reach for an existing credential. They had to take the testing responsibility onto themselves. If there was an established fire fighting college I'm sure they would love to require the sheepskin.

Of course outsourcing the testing industry came with huge monetary and efficiency costs, but what the hell.

I am Lugash.

Cambridge said...

Intellectual drubbing? Ha.

Womyn rule because they embrace the concept of equality over all other concerns. Testosterone is evil and makes a human being violent and stupid and insensitive towards equal outcomes.

The only thing holding this country back is the men: men in media, men in finance, men in politics and men in law.

Utopia will be realized when complete equality and therefore equal outcomes are achieved in the human race. Only womyn can bring about the dawn of this new age.

Men are stone age barbarians and they have no business in positions of authority in the modern world.

CJ said...

Like many of the babblers at Slate, Bazelon and Lithwick are basically trustafarians. They come from affluent liberal families, and don't have all that much on the ball compared to some of their relatives. They have little experience outside the liberal bubble and aren't looking to get any.

While we're at it, I really am impressed with Roberts and Alito. Can you imagine if Harriet Myers had actually been up there?

Anonymous said...

I imagine most of our cognitive elite spend their leisure time growing exotic orchids, reading the latest Philip Roth novel, dinner partying, and enjoying other enlightening activities. I doubt they've devoted any time to familiarizing themselves with the very basics of HBD. While the science is fascinating, the implications threaten their worldview and who wants to go there when life is so rosy? It's telling that so many of them are 30years behind the times when it comes to "cultural bias" in testing. They don't even realize their egalitarian narrative needs editing.

Svigor said...

Still, doesn't that get boring after awhile?

What, being in charge? No, that doesn't get boring.

If it does, all they have to do is look at the last bunch, who didn't "who? Whom?" to see what happened to them. They're over there in the corner in the dunce caps muttering "the other fellow has a point of view" to themselves.

The leftist coalition won't soon forget how they came to power, or how and why the normals lost it; this is enshrined in the idea of "permanent revolution," something the Commies and the leftist coalition have very much in common.

Svigor said...

Exscuse my ignorance, but what does "who, Whom" mean?

AFAIK it's a quote from Stalin or someone like that. It means, more or less, who's getting screwed and who's doing the screwing are what's important, not principle. And it has waaaaaaay more explanatory power vis-a-vis the current regime than any ideology or principle.

Svigor said...

the MSMs arrogance that they are indispensable

Totally human attitude; everybody always fights the last war. During the last war, they were indispensable.

Shouting Thomas said...

I don't think the left cares whether it took an intellectual drubbing.

The commitment to quotas cannot be budged. As you've so cleverly pointed out, it is a patronage system.

The political scene really has polarized into hetero white men vs. everybody else. This does not seem to me to bode well for hetero white men in the future. The inherent unfairness of this seems wildly beyond the point.

Bill R said...

Thank you Dennis

Anonymous said...

Missing from the Ricci debate is information concerning documented instances in which individuals have died in fires because incompetent affirmative-action hires were unable to perform their duties properly.

recommendation to anyone debating these issues with friends, coworkers etc.:

assume they know nothing, don't express opinions, just explain to them how race quotas, disparate impact, etc. actually works.

the level of ignorance among apparently sophisticated progressive intellectuals is mind-boggling.

AMac said...

"These two vehicles have been chugging along side-by-side for years, ostensibly to the same destination, until today, when they suddenly turned on each other and charged."

I wonder if there is some long-forgotten definition of "ostensibly" that changes Lithwick's "not even wrong" opinion into a variant of wisdom.

I suppose that would mean she's an idiot savant, which is a step up from Agnostic's rather telling characterization.

simon said...

Given that Sotomayor appears to be a bit of an obnoxious dumbass, would her confirmation actually benefit conservatives? Eg would she rub Kennedy up the wrong way and help ensure continued 5-4 splits like Ricci?

Anonymous said...

stupid is as stupid does...

Aaron Haspel said...

In fairness to Lithwick, her column merely channels the dissent of Ginsburg, who may be a left ideologue on this matter but is certainly no idiot.

Let's rephrase your question: "Who could get herself appointed to the Supreme Court without understanding [admitting?] that there is a fundamental contradiction in both theory and practice between abolishing disparate impact discrimination and abolishing disparate treatment discrimination?" Ruth Bader Ginsburg for starters, and several other people too.

dr kill said...

Ice cream socialists.

Anonymous said...

and white guilt.

6/29/2009



That is the key

Anonymous said...

Who/Whom stuff is presumably a reference to "Cui bono?" which means, "who benefits?" and is often invoked as a kind of investigative principle

Anonymous said...

"Exscuse my ignorance, but what does "who, Whom" mean?"

I'm guessing that Steve is trying to say that they're making purely technical arguments with no consideration of factual or practical realities.

But I think a simpler description of their "who, whom" mentality is that they only look at who is discriminating and who is being discriminated against.

Imagine if the races were reversed in this case. Do you think they would be so interested in nitpicking about disparate treatment and disparate impact?

Anonymous said...

Somewhat related, a rare win for nuture vs. nature: I know you guys all watch The Ultimate Fighter :-) and can't help notice how different the UK black guys are from American black guys. Slap a British accent on a black guy and it's Eliza Doolittle all over again, it's astounding. One UK black guy - with a mohawk - lamented after a loss "I was so ahhhrogant!", in what to me sounded like an upper crust accent, and he sounded genuinely despondent. You just don't see that in America.

Also glad to see a white guy selected first in the NBA draft. What? That guy's not black or I'm LL Cool J.

Maréchal Foch said...

There certainly is a fundamental contradiction (between disparate-treatment and disparate-impact) in practice, but there isn't any difference in politically correct theory.

It's like the Labor Theory of Value. In practice the quantity of labor incorporated into a good has only a tangential relationship to the value of that good. But in Marxist theory it is everything.

So long as Lithwick is a cadre member, she must teach correct theory. In theory there are no statistical differences between white and NAM firemen, so by simple application of logic, any disparate impact is proof of disparate treatment. Also in (politically-) correct theory all NAM's are victims of white racism, so any disparate treatment of whites is merely compensatory.

BigBill said...

She is wrong. there is only one evil, and that is "disparate treatment" (DT). It's just that it is so hard to actually prove that they decided to use a telltale called "disparate impact" (DI) to indicate the presence of DT.

DI is only a telltale. It only establishes a presumption of DT. That presumption can still be countered.

What Dahlia's friends tried to do was replace DT with DI. The Court said they couldn't do that. Paraphrasing the Court, you cannot merely show DI and announce a win. And that is what many jurisdictions had started to do, figuring thatthere was nothing they could say or do to change that presumption.

What the Court said was that when you spend as much time and money, with as much minority involvement and approval at every single stage of the test development process as New Haven did, you cannot just throw out a test with a cry of "disparate impact!"

The truly beautiful thing about the decision is the well-defined process it offers to immediately counter any DI=DT claim.

You get the most gifted, the most honest, the most respected black and Hispanic doctors, lawyers, teachers, garbagemen, firemen (whatever) from inside the department and from other cities to devise a test. You get them to sign off on it at every step of the process. If you do this, youare home free! (At least until Ginsburg and her tikkun olam "heal the world" "tests are stupid" doctrine takes over.)

When the inevitable results come back (in the eternal jew-asian-white-hispanic-black racial order) you can have all the hearings you want and tell the whiners to go pound sand (nicely, of course!)

When you balance DI against the clear and overwhelmingly persuasive evidence of fairness and therefore no DT, then fairness wins ... at least until the bruthas and their white sympathizers come up with some new theory of oppression.

I guess my big fear is that honest black folks (out of a misplaced sense of race loyalty) are going to refuse to be a part of the test creation process since they know (1) blacks are going to fail, and (2)they don't want to have to witness how fair the process was.

The telltales of this happening will be demands for names of the minority test design participants, who will then be contacted and scared off.

The reality, however, is that no matter what minority they find to judge the questions, whether sympathetic to black folks or not, the test results will always come out in the eternal race order.

No matter what questions you eventually get them to commit to as fair, the eternal race order will reappear in the results.

And how can you say the tests were culturally biased if fifty black folks read them in advance orwrote them and said they were OK?

testing99 said...

Oh please Steve.

You're not getting it. It's all about Spoils politics. No different from Andrew Jackson's time.

Do you expect a White Woman to overthrow her built-in desire for AA, given that her entire career is built on AA preferences?

Oh yeah Reparations for Slavery is coming. More assault on Straight White guys.

BigBill -- that is a fantasy. The name of the game is spoils politics. Construct a massive, corrupt patronage organization ... like Chicago (shocked Steve has not commented on that) and build power by patronage. Why do you think School Districts are so laden with do-nothing administrators? Duh. Patronage.

Anonymous said...

testy sed

"Do you expect a White Woman to overthrow her built-in desire for AA, given that her entire career is built on AA preferences?"

Methinks testy is having a bit of fun with us. Could it be he is constructing a sly criticism of others' monomaniacal criticism of Jews? "The Eternal Woman is destroying the world!!" The comparison doesn't wash but this would explain some things.

Half Sigma said...

The liberals lost because they didn't have enough of their people on the court. Seven and a half more years of Obama could change that.

I don't see any hardcore liberals changing their minds about anything, nor do I see any honest discussion of the core "problem" that blacks don't do well on tests.

Justin said...

You've all been duped and brainwashed. The fact is, the courts do not have Constitutional authority to throw out or make up law or policy. By consenting to the Supreme Court's decision, pro or con, you have bought into the rules of a game in which the People always lose.

Judicial review is not Constitutional! The focus of any sensible citizen should be on removing their autocratic power.

Anonymous said...

You've all been duped and brainwashed. The fact is, the courts do not have Constitutional authority to throw out or make up law or policy. By consenting to the Supreme Court's decision, pro or con, you have bought into the rules of a game in which the People always lose.

Judicial review is not Constitutional! The focus of any sensible citizen should be on removing their autocratic power.


This is a very unrealistic view of how the law works. Ultimately, laws must be interpreted and enforced, so the judiciary, whether you like it or not, does play a role in making law. One of the problems with libertarians or similarly minded minarchist conservatives is that they often pretend that the law is something that stands apart from the human beings that interpret it. I got news for you - it isn't!

Anonymous said...

Methinks testy is having a bit of fun with us. Could it be he is constructing a sly criticism of others' monomaniacal criticism of Jews?

No, because he says exactly the same things over at Half Sigma and Roissy in DC, and there ain't much Jew-bashing going on in them blogs.

Testy's just a lonely, frustrated nebbish who thinks he's found the key to all of his (and therefore society's) problems: shiksa bitches who won't sleep with guys like him.

not a hacker said...

Love this site and always look forward to reading Testy, Half, Svigor and 'Saurus. However, I'm amazed no one ever mentions the psyhological engine, a la Clinton Rossiter, of people like Lithwick and Bazelon. It's all about sophistication. The post-1960 New Left are mainly people bereft in a technical universe, who never raised a crop or even fixed their own car. So how to be sophisticated? You get together and agree that a set of attitudes = sophistication. And the main component is, reflexive defense of whoever has the darker skin. Once you sign up, there's no going back. Lithwick and Bazelon have no choice in striking the poses they do. If the rest of the group tells them they're no longer "sophisticated," what the hell do they do, start programming satellites?

Svigor said...

I don't think the left cares whether it took an intellectual drubbing.

Read my mind. What do they care?

I've devoured hundreds of them online over the years and never had one admit defeat (generally or on a particular), or having learned something, or being impressed (expectations vs. reality), etc. EVER. They just slink away.

Svigor said...

Methinks testy is having a bit of fun with us. Could it be he is constructing a sly criticism of others' monomaniacal criticism of Jews? "The Eternal Woman is destroying the world!!" The comparison doesn't wash but this would explain some things.

I came to a similar conclusion, except I don't think he's critiquing or lampooning so much as competing.

greenrivervalleyman said...

As Steve pointed out in his article taking on Bazelon, she comes from a distinguished family of lawyers and jurists- her grandfather, David Bazelon, was in fact the Chief Judge of the D.C. U.S. Court of Appeals during the 60's and '70's.

Here is a portrait of the man (as given by former-clerk Alan Dershowitz in his book Chutzpah):


Judge Bazelon rarely went to synagague, but he was a Jewish judge in every sense. He saw the world through his Jewish background. His humor was frequently in Yiddish. His speeches referred to the rabbinic literature. He described himself as a secular American with a "Jewish soul." If a defendant deserved compassion but no writ of habeas corpus--or other formal legal remedy--was technically available to him, Bazelon would wink at me [italics added] and order that I find some ground for issuing a "writ of rachmones." Rachmones is the Hebrew-Yiddish word for "compassion."

John Anello said...

The Left does not care if they took an intellectual drubbing on Ricci, or on any other issue for that matter.

Leftism is an anti-intellectual movement. There is not a single Leftist thinker today whose ideas have not been discredited in theory and/or in practice. Socialism, Communism, Affirmative Action, Unionism, Diversity...all of their ideas have been proven to be either outright falsehoods, or fantastical irrationalities.

The Left operates today less like an intellectual movement and more like a propaganda machine. It was Minister Goebbels who said, “If you tell a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.” That is pretty much what the Left does today, and sadly, they are succeeding at it.

Anonymous said...

The Left operates today less like an intellectual movement and more like a propaganda machine. It was Minister Goebbels who said, “If you tell a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.”




Goebbels at least admitted the existence of such things as lies and truth. The modern left does not. They believe that there is no such thing as truth, only power.

Anonymous said...

It was Minister Goebbels who said, “If you tell a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.” That is pretty much what the Left does today, and sadly, they are succeeding at it.

This quote illustrates its very point. Did Goebbels really say this? Did Lenin? It's been attributed that way for so long that it's accepted as fact.

Sorry to be overly pedantic. The point of the quote still applies.