Monday, May 16, 2005


I ran into this post by Den Mother on fraternities and discrimination, i.e., that the very notion of a fraternity is discriminatory, yet what is so bad about it, especially since it is affirming for the women involved.

But back to the original point. Is membership in a single-sex society by definition sexist? Do such groups discriminate? They do discriminate, in the same way that Mensa or the Daughters of the American Revolution or the Girls Club or my town's local India Center discriminate. In all those cases, participation is restricted to those who possess a characteristic outside their control. But in my experience, the effect is so overwhelmingly positive and opportunities for involvement in similar groups by either sex so readily available that the charge of sexism seems absurd—

The first thing I should say is that there is nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with discrimination. The problem is with unjust discrimination or "sinful" discrimination. I say "sinful" to represent discrimination motivated by an evil desire, i.e, racial, sexist, etc. In this case, i.e., "sinful" discrimination, the motivation, if not explicit intent, is to offend human dignity.

Anything worth anything is essentially discriminatory and that's a good thing. For instance, the educational system discriminates against people who do not pass exams. Thus, those who pass can move on and those who don't remain in place. That in itself is fine. You can multiply the examples, i.e, senior citizen discounts, etc.

The problem is that the word "discrimination" has taken on a life of its own and is evoked as bad without reference to context. Sometimes the solution to the problem of unjust or sinful discrimination requires discrimination itself. This is not a problem. The morality of discrimination is totally dependent on context.

What we have is a product of the shout down, media sound bite culture, where it is now all about wining the PR and media wars where the virtue is uncomplicated brevity, so that it is easier to make the other person look wrong than actually show that they are wrong. "Discrimination" is a guaranteed way effective jab and many times deserved, but it all comes back to bite you in the butt when you actually try to nuance the issue. Quite frankly, I wish Civil rights folks would drop the word simply because it is misleading in its current use and the stand-alone, decontextualized concept of discrimination is now underming the remedies put in place to combat unjust discrimination, e.g., the affirmative action fight.


Blogger 'Thought & Humor' said...

You have a riveting web log
and undoubtedly must have
atypical & quiescent potential
for your intended readership.
May I suggest that you do
everything in your power to
honor your Designer/Architect
as well as your audience.

Please remember to never
restrict anyone's opportunities
for ascertaining uninterrupted
existence for their quintessence.

There is a time for everything,
a season for every activity
under heaven. A time to be
born and a time to die. A
time to plant and a time to
harvest. A time to kill and
a time to heal. A time to
tear down and a time to
rebuild. A time to cry and
a time to laugh. A time to
grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones
and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a
time to turn away. A time to
search and a time to lose. A
time to keep and a time to
throw away. A time to tear
and a time to mend. A time
to be quiet and a time to
speak up. A time to love
and a time to hate. A time
for war and a time for peace.

Best wishes for continued ascendancy,

'Thought & Humor'
Cyber-Humor & Cyber-Thought
Harvard Humor Club

8:37 PM  

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