Monday, January 28, 2008

The Unethical "Ethicist"

I don't know about you, but I rarely read and rarely agree with The New York Times' Randy Cohen, aka "The Ethicist." He is so stuck in being PC that his responses are often dripping with condescension, immorality, and reverse discrimination. Amy Alkon, the Advice Goddess pickes up on his questionable ethics in a recent post:

The New York Times' Randy Cohen, aka "The Ethicist," argues for affirmative discrimination (and made me feel like I needed a shower after reading his reply).

Personally, I don't believe you resolve discrimination by discriminating. Furthermore, "minority candidates" who are qualified must find it pretty insulting to be assumed to be "affirmative action" hires. Here's the question:

Go over and read the question and answer at the Advice Goddess's place while I go take a shower.


Blogger Cham said...

I didn't get passed the question. I can't read any more and I won't. How long are employers in this country going to offer "incentives" to "minorities"? What exactly makes a person a minority? How does one prove someone is a minority? I have a couple of friends that are whiter than me that are supposed "minorities". Enough already with the employment based on genealogical lineage. If you can't get a job based on your qualifications then you don't deserve the job.

7:50 AM, January 28, 2008  
Blogger Helen said...


The question and answer is both pretty sick. A society that gives people incentives because of the color of their skin or because of their perceived minority status is a sick society.

8:01 AM, January 28, 2008  
Blogger TMink said...

My daughter's school sent me an email about free workshops this summer for "children of color." I guess invisible children need not apply?

The last time they divided the children based on race they let African American children have a special meeting with one of the Arkansas 7 while the white, Asian, Indian, and Jewish kids did busy work. I asked that they tell me when they intend on providing separate opportunities based on race so that I could take my daughter to an alternative, inclusive learning opportunity for that day. I went on to outline how it goes against our family, ethical, and spiritual values to discriminate based on race, and asked that they stop the practice altogether or at least inform me so that I can protect my daughter from their discrimination.

No emails from them since then. I am not turning blue from hypoxia waiting for one either.


9:43 AM, January 28, 2008  
Blogger Quasimodo said...

Sorry, I don't see the big deal here. Isn't this pretty much standard operating procedure for universities these days? I think it's less offensive because it is so up front. At least you know what the game is. It's a long way from being as offensive as the thought/speech codes in place.

10:08 AM, January 28, 2008  
Blogger DADvocate said...

My first thought was close to that of the first commenter at the Advice Goddess - "two wrongs don't make a right." There's a book called "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." I learned this in kindergarten. (Never read the book - BTW)

quasimode - I can't fathom how you don't see the big deal here. Legalized and institutionalized racism and sexism. It's no more ethical one direction or the other. Sure it's SOP at universities which makes it that much more outrageous.

11:20 AM, January 28, 2008  
Blogger David Foster said...

In this piece, the "ethicist" discusses the ethics of offshoring production. He doesn't seem to grasp that if the prospective workers don't get hired for this guy's business, their alternative is not going to be attending college or working in a clear and orderly Toyota factory. The real alternatives are likely to be extreme rural poverty, urban destitution, prostitution, etc.

Found via the Lean Blog, at which there is a discussion.

11:44 AM, January 28, 2008  
Blogger Earnest Iconoclast said...

This is one of those catch-22's... if the incentive is modifying behavior, then it's going to give people an incentive to hire minorities regardless of qualifications. If it's not modifying behavior, than it's a waste of money.

So which do the supporters claim it is?

It's like television... on the one hand, what people watch on television supposedly doesn't influence behavior... on the other hand, commercials are really expensive.

1:22 PM, January 28, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll get stupid here and say something that may make many angry and call me names.

Maybe it's all about football and basketball. That's where the money comes from.

1:45 PM, January 28, 2008  
Blogger mentilsoup said...

It is profoundly aggravating to see Mr. Cohen bill himself as an "ethicist" without evincing a modicum of familiarity with "reasoning." What renders this execrable pabulum so offensive isn't so much its mediocre recital of boilerplate collectivist drivel but it's obviously circular argument. A government program through an education facility is not "discreditable" because...other government programs are not "discreditable." It is their ubiquitous prevalence rather than their dubious provenance that is cited as foundation for his apology.

It would serve him and his audience well to stop ignoring the fact that the smallest minority is always the individual. It is when his virtues and abilities are ground under by vicious government mechanisms designed to divide and corral people into demographic clubs that real injustice is committed. Even a cursory familiarity with legal and cultural history reveals that it is de jure proscriptions in favor of one group at the expense of another, enforced by policing agencies, are always the font of violence and oppression. The conservative who rails against gay marriage is the ideological brother-in-arms to shrivelled humans like Mr. Cohen, and the answer to them is the same in every arena they inundate; Laissez nous faire!

2:09 PM, January 28, 2008  
Blogger Quasimodo said...

Don't get me wrong. I'm not in favor of this - I'm just saying it's SOP. It's Affirmative Action writ a little larger than usual. AA is holy water to our politically correct universities. This twist on it should only raise an eyebrow and produce a sigh - not provoke the desire to shower.

3:09 PM, January 28, 2008  
Blogger Mercurior said...

the person who is hired how do they feel, are they unsure that they are the best person for the job, or just hired because of the skin colour. if you think its skin colour then it could give you the excuse to not do your work.

i would rather work with someone who could do the job.

4:05 PM, January 28, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"i would rather work with someone who could do the job."

There was an article I saw several years ago called "Affirmative Action Doctors Will Kill You". It provided some detailed information on how bad things get (how incompetent people are) with affirmative action.

4:10 PM, January 28, 2008  
Blogger Cham said...

From my 20 years of experience in corporate America I can say this, people hired based on the color of their skin do next to no work at all. Why? Because they don't have to.

4:29 PM, January 28, 2008  
Blogger geekWithA.45 said...

Any engineer worth his salt will tell you that if a system is producing too much "ping", introducing "pong" to counteract it just plain isn't going to work.

4:35 PM, January 28, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ethicist is just regurgitating his received wisdom. However, I think his explanation of the reasoning behind the policy is completely accurate. Traffic fines deter speeding; race-based incentives encourage minority hiring. Both systems are used by the government to change citizens' behavior. Only difference is whether you believe the ends justify the means.

6:29 PM, January 28, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

I always indicate Celtic for ethnicity.

There's precious few of us over here. Where do I apply?

8:18 PM, January 28, 2008  
Blogger Jeff Y said...

I attended a "diversity" workshop at my university some years ago. The facilitator gave a presentation explaining why minorities received more points in the admission system.

During the question and answer session I asked him if he would be OK with deducting points from white applicants instead of adding points to minority applicants. He indignantly responded, "That would be unfair! I don't support that."

The rube didn't grasp that the two approaches are equivalent.

Let's state plainly what affirmative action is: positive discrimination against white people to redress wrongs committed by their white ancestors.

It's obviously bullshit.

10:06 AM, January 29, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never met anyone, personally, who was truly satisfied with his accomplishments when all he has was given to him.

12:21 PM, January 29, 2008  
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