A Conversation for Talking Point: Discrimination

'Positive' Discrimination - Still Discriminates!

Post 21


So you're saying if somebody was having a bad time in school, it is the company's job to make up for that? So a person who never got an education should be made director of the company, just to make up for all the cruel things in his life? I imagine a company being forced to do that would go bankrupt pretty quickly.

'Positive' Discrimination - Still Discriminates!

Post 22

badger party tony party green party

Hope you had a good weekend, mine was fantastic.smiley - ok

Of course I am no suggesting that we should promote people way beyond their capabilities. That has already been tried if you want to know the results of that look in any history book at the hit and miss affair that royal succesion is.

The whole point of Positive dicrimination is that when it can be seen that individuals or groups have had difficulties not of their own making preventing them from reaching their full potential then these individuals or groups should be given some specific help to do so.

Many people might not be able to understand or see the difficulties that some other people have to deal with. Sometimes it can be something intangible like lacking in confidence because they fear people will not accept them due to their disability. The bars to advancement may be constructive such as racial harassment within the work place. Though many peole do not experience these themselves or see them happening to others does not mean that they are not there.

Many who do know and understand these problems believe that positive action is the best way to break these barriers. We already have laws that make it necessary for new buildings to be more disabled friendly and harmonise the work place for all regardless of sex or race, but these alone are not enough.

Having a broader cross section of society represented through all aspects of commerce, government, education, armed forces and the judicary will help establish a fairer society. Then anit discrmination laws will do what they really should, that is maintain equality.

'Positive' Discrimination - Still Discriminates!

Post 23

Rains - Wondering where time's going and why it's in so much of a hurry!

I've recently done some work with a group of disabled teenagers (some physically, some mentally, some both) and the thing that did affect them most was a lack of confidence in themselves and their abilities. When me and my colleagues met them they were all shy, but we've got to know them and introduced them to the workplace and shown them that they can get to where they want to be. They've opened up to the world.

I do agree that a lot of places do need to be made more wheelchair friendly, but I would argue that positive discrimination doesn't level the playing field; it just tips it in the other direction. Some groups do need encouragement (as above), but where do you draw the line between encouragement and so-called "positive" discrimination?

Would you rather get a job because you were a member of a minority, or because you could actually do the job?

Speaking as a female in a male-dominated profession (engineering), I would much prefer to get a job on ability and not the fact I have boobs.

'Positive' Discrimination - Still Discriminates!

Post 24

badger party tony party green party

Why do people always jump to the conclusion that people who get into posts through positive discrimination will be unable to despatch their duties as well as anyone else. Rains, you have seen and told us how a lack of self confidence can affect people. Well society's lack of confidence in people is just as big a hurdle to overcome. Peoples skills only really flourish through practice and the world has a great deal of skills going to waste because we do not make the necessary effeorts to develope some people due to spoken or unspoken prejudices.

Implicitly the message we get from looking at certain sectors of the workplace is this;
In engineering minority X are not visible therefore minority X are not capable of being engineers.

This is almost universally untrue yet without forcing the issue we will not see how these unspoken *rules* are false.smiley - rainbow

'Positive' Discrimination - Still Discriminates!

Post 25

Rains - Wondering where time's going and why it's in so much of a hurry!

Fair point, but there is a fine line between encouraging people (boosting confidence, etc) and giving jobs to those who are maybe not as well qualified but are minorities.

I'm not saying that just because someone has been given a boost because of this kind of programme that they will automatically be worse at their job. Just because someone is part of a minority group doesn't mean they're any less capable or intelligent that the majority groups. In places where there is still a large amount of racial discrimination (remember the case at Ford's old plant in Dagenham?) then action does indeed need to be taken.

We do need to correct the views that any minority is less than we are, but we need to be careful we don't go too far.

'Positive' Discrimination - Still Discriminates!

Post 26

Tashalls, Muse of Flights of Fancy (Losing Weight at A858170)

To those who truly believe equalising discrimination means going purely on merits, or people's perceptions of experience/merits, take yourselves over to this website: http://www.tolerance.org/hidden_bias/index.html

I was surprised to learn I have slightly discriminatory attitudes towards people in various ways - I truly thought I didn't distriminate based on appearance.

I think positive discrimination is designed to overcome this bias in most people (as it turns out, even in those who believes everyone should get a fair go regardless of weight, sex, sexual preferences, race, colour, creed, etc)

THESE BIASES EXIST! To say jobs or opportunities should go to those who deserve it ignores that most of us have inbuilt blinkers, and assume certain people to be more meritorious than others. Even in a subconsious way, this happens. Thus positive distrimination helps equalise this bias.

Please go to that website and take a few tests, especially if you think you are a "right thinking, liberal, fair-minded" person who believes everyone gets an equal go in life.

'Positive' Discrimination - Still Discriminates!

Post 27

Rains - Wondering where time's going and why it's in so much of a hurry!

Very interesting - I found, like you, that I do have subconscious discriminatory attitudes even though I was sure I didn't. Hmm.

But is this a product of upbringing, culture, or just plain hereditary?

'Positive' Discrimination - Still Discriminates!

Post 28

Chadsmoor Charlie

I'm not convinced by the bias test - it seemed to be looking for bias and results can often be made to mean what you want them to mean. I pressed the buttons I was told to press - the only thing actually tested was my ability to press the right button quickly and didn't prove any bias.

Charlie smiley - chick

'Positive' Discrimination - Still Discriminates!

Post 29


I feel that if we are to hold to an ideal of non-discrimination, then it should apply to all. We cannot reverse-discriminate to make up for wrongs - I dare to use a cliche: two wrongs don't make a right. Although, this is just my opinion.

Rationally looking at it, this positive discrimination could breed contempt in those previously unaffected by discrimination, widening the gap between groups and thus possibly achieving the reverse of what positive discimination is intending. This aggressive method is also open to manipulation from nationalist groups - look at how immigration is viewed at the moment in both UK and Europe.

Suppose you were in a position to be discriminated against when, say, applying for a job. Would you rather get that job knowing that your skills and personality were valued, or that you were there just because you had a disability? And what would your work mates think?

'Positive' Discrimination - Still Discriminates!

Post 30

badger party tony party green party

OK then Charlie big-up yourself for seeing through a test that is a bit loaded in favour of highlighting and exposing rather than simply finding out.

Ask yourself these questions though why are there a diproportianately high number of men from African/Carribean backgrounds in prisons and mental institutions and do you think that this is because of or the cause of the same group being subject to negative discrimination in the work place?

Why are there a disproportiantely high number of men from this group playing football in the English premiership but no managers from this group? Can you see any kind of discrimination in this situation?

If a higher proportion of young people whose parents attended universty enter university than young people whose parents did not go to university does this mean that the children of people who do not go to nuiversity are thicker?

'Positive' Discrimination - Still Discriminates!

Post 31

Chadsmoor Charlie

I didn't go to university. Does that make me thick?

Just because discrimination exists, it doesn't mean positive discrimination is right. Making judgments or decisions on people based on sex, colour, or any other non-changeable characteristics is wrong. I shouldn't lose a job just because I'm white. Another person shouldn't lose a job because they're black. Nor should either of us get a job on the same basis. The only relevant deciding factors should be those the individual is able to influence, eg, personality, skills, whatever.

Charlie smiley - chick

'Positive' Discrimination - Still Discriminates!

Post 32


Totally, and positive discimination comes across as aggressive, vengeful and malign. Totally not the image you wanna get across. Fight fire with fire springs to mind - what d'yall think of the new metallica album?

'Positive' Discrimination - Still Discriminates!

Post 33


Whilst I find it difficult to believe that positive discrimination actually improves things rather than entrenching attitudes, I am not sure how we as a society ensure that everyone genuinly gets treated the same in terms of opportunity, the law etc.

If we want a truly equitable but culturally diverse society, then we must find ways to ensure equality of access to education (at all levels), equality of treatment under the law, equality of opportunity in work etc.

Any ideas?

'Positive' Discrimination - Still Discriminates!

Post 34

badger party tony party green party

It is not fighting fire with fire.

What gets people backs up about *PD* is the idea that "white people will lose out". Well if you consider living in a society that actively attempts to ensure equality losing out then yes they will.

What *PD* is meant to do is set up situations where the best suited 15% of each group goes to university and so on and so forth for jobs etc...so that the people in industry and education reflect the make up of society.

Rectifying the situation we have at the moment where we have a disproportionate number of the people who decide on the shape of the state school system who have never even been to state schools.

If we used *PD* in the selection of our MPs we would not have had the majority of our prime ministers drawn from just two public schools.

*PD* is the answer to choosing people because they are from the same group as the prdescessor in that post it is a very different process to "the old school tie system"

'Positive' Discrimination - Still Discriminates!

Post 35


"white people will lose out": what gets disciminated people's backs up is that "they lose out". Let's consider that those who can be considered un-discriminated can still denounce discrimination without condoning PD. I mean, these people know that discrimination is wrong and realise that *they* will lose out but *still* want to right it, but they agree that PD is not the solution. The problem: PD is multi-faceted - some facets of PD apply discrimination in an unacceptable form.

As rightly mentioned, PD can be used to "further rate" people because they are from the same group as the predecessor. It makes sense that decisions made on behalf of some ethnic group should involve representatives from that ethnic group - the same applies to a mathematicians job that should be filled by someone with some background in mathematics. So these examples technically discriminate but make sense and are acceptable.

An unacceptable facet of PD is the enforcement of positions filled proportionatly by ethnicity *when the job is clearly exclusive of ethnicity* - unless you really believe Scottish are better engineers, aye aye captian smiley - smiley

A Tribute to DNA

Post 36


Please excuse me for joining in to an obviously well-established thread, but I have been very interested by all the comments I have scanned and now want to take some time to chew them over in my own mind.

I must say that the test recommended by Tashalls felt to me like it was some kind of Pavlovian experiment - the speed of the responses demanded created a situation that felt to me like brainwashing. But maybe I am just suspicious and slow in my early-retired, middle-aged state.

The problem with this problem is trying to find where you set off in your logical reasoning: Trying to find an agreed start-point seems to me to be a crucial requirement of a debate (as opposed to just an argument), and this aim in itself is really quite difficult. For example, if we tried to start with the statement "We all agree that Discrimination is a bad thing", then I believe that many would disagree, particularly those who wish to try to preserve and protect their racial, ethnic and/or religious roots.

Maybe if we focussed our thinking on whether gender, sexual preferences and upbringing are predictors of proficiency in a particular line of employment, things might become easier. But then again, some of us may even differ on that point, claiming - for example - that females have the genetic edge when it comes to nurturing, and males have the genetic edge when it comes to musclepower.

I find the idea that skin colour as a predictor of job proficiency is utterly ludicrous. But then again, I have to accept that the majority of successful athletes are black, and the majority of successful swimmers are white. Or would people even argue about that?

Hmmm.... Need to think..... brain hurts.... I remember - with considerable affection, if not total accuracy - the bit Douglas Adams wrote about the people of Earth, "who nailed this guy to a tree simply for suggesting that it would be a nicer place if people could only try to be nice to one another!"

But it's good to talk and get all of this out into the open, isn't it?

Oh, no ! Who's just said that raking over the coals is no way of lowering people's predisposition to posture over principles? Can we actually ever make something a side-issue by bringing it to the fore, as Positive Discrimination does?

I need a lie down. Thanks, everybody for the intellectual exercise!

A Tribute to DNA

Post 37

badger party tony party green party

As a *black*man I have both suffered from and benefitted from discrimination.

I went along to a job interview with a nice guy called Ralph (it turned out he wasn't the boss but he was rushed because the boss was off and he needed to get an order out) I was all ready to answer questions about past jobs and my skills. Ralph gave me a quick visual once over and said, "You look like you could do the job. Can you start tomorrow?"

The basis of his reasoning was that the machines we were testing are heavy and needed strong blokes to shift them about. The other guy he took on that day was hopeless and although he could move the machines around his attention to detail was poor and its a wonder the machines he passed didnt kill someone.

Ralph was a nice guy and in no way that I saw anti-women but it never crossed his mind that women could do a heavy job. Ralph could have employed two women who could lift the machines together and then test them more compotenetly than me or the other guy. But his selection criteria focussed on one narrow part of our abilities.

I have been harassed by the police simply for the colour of my skin. This sort of on-going mistreatment and labeling by the police gives many young people the idea that they may as well not make any educational effort and resort to crime as a carrer because they can't escape that label any way.

Like I say I have benifitted from discrimination and been a victim of it.

*PD* aims to ease discrimination by showing people who are bigotted and more importantly those who just dont see how discriminating this society is that we can live very well or even better without our traditional prejudices.

Big Eric: Gay men are not better hiar stylists.
Women are not better child minders.
Black men are not better dancers.
Blind people are not better piano tuners.

These groups of people make a disproportionate proportion of the *workforce* in those occupations because society at large is more accepting of them in such roles. Employers and consumers are not always to blame but quite often their personal attitudes can have an effect on the demographic of the work force too.

As for the black runners and white swimmers chestnut.

Ask yourself this if you come from an east african coutry that does'nt have an olympic size swimming pool near you what sport are you going to get into. And before you start on about sprinting that is a legacy from the selective breeding of slave owners which means that afro-americans have heavier bone and muscle density. This is great for sprinting but bad for swimming.smiley - peacesign

A Tribute to DNA

Post 38


And how does Big Eric know all these things? It has been shown blindness improves hearing, so it seems fair enough they should make better piano tuners. And I would certainly say women in general are better at nurturing stuff. Of course some men can do it as well, but you can't expect a 50/50 ratio in kindergartens.

About the sprinting. Whatever the cause, selective breeding or natural selection, that means there is some difference between black and white people. Not an important one, but it does show that it may not be racism if a sports team is full of black people in a area dominated by whites.

About the heavy lifting, do you consider that discrimination? If the guy looked at you and saw you were bulging with muscles, why shouldn't he want to hire you for a job with the purpose of lugging around heavy machines? Maybe two women could handle it combined, but unless they were willing to split the salary, why would he do it?

I'm not sitting with any statistics right now, so correct me if I am wrong. There is a larger amount of criminals among poor than rich people. In America there is a larger percentage of poor people among blacks than whites. So there would be a larger amount of criminals among black people than white due to this. So in this context does it seem unfair if cops more often search or pull over black people than white? The probability of them being criminals is just higher.

A Tribute to DNA

Post 39


"I'm not sitting with any statistics right now, so correct me if I am wrong. There is a larger amount of criminals among poor than rich people. In America there is a larger percentage of poor people among blacks than whites. So there would be a larger amount of criminals among black people than white due to this. So in this context does it seem unfair if cops more often search or pull over black people than white? The probability of them being criminals is just higher."

OK, to make sense of your argument (I think the statistical point is basically correct) you have to assume that the police are randomly stopping people in the hope that they might be currently in the commission of a crime, or have evidence that they had committed a crime. Does this scenario pose any civil liberties issues? I think so.

There is another point - even supposing that the proportion of blacks involved in crime is higher than the proportion of whites involved in crime, for there to be the same number of crimes committed by blacks as whites the difference in the proportions would have to be quite large. According to the good old CIA world factbook, there are about 6 times as many whites as blacks in the USA (more than 30 times in the UK). If the proportion of black people who have recently committed a crime is less than 6 times (or 30 times in the UK) the same proportion for white people, and if the police are stopping more blacks than whites in absolute terms, then there is no statistical justification for it.

I highly recommend the second half of this article for a more careful look at it. In fact, I recommend anything written by Tim Wise on this subject. He writes about the US situation, but I think it is generally instructive.


I'll just quote two paragraphs from it:

"According to the February 2001 Justice Department report entitled "Contacts Between Police and the Public," blacks are more likely than whites to be stopped by police, and much more likely to be searched, on suspicion of possessing illegal drugs, guns or other contraband. This, despite the fact that searches of white vehicles--conducted less than half as often--were more than twice as likely to turn up evidence of criminality than those conducted on vehicles driven by blacks!

"Likewise, a few years ago it was reported that black women were nine times more likely to be stopped and searched at airport customs checkpoints, but white women were twice as likely to be carrying illegal contraband."

A Tribute to DNA

Post 40


Thanks, I'll have a look at those. It sounds interesting.

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