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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

On Race and Fairness In Education

I would have thought that Dred Scott would have caused thoughtful people to conclude that Supreme Court decisions and morality are not the same. Ann Althouse posted a column about a hearing exploring the use of racial preferences at the University of Wisconsin. Althouse, the law professor, states that the Supreme Court’s ruling on this issue is crucial. From a purely legal perspective she is probably safe. From a moral perspective she is totally wrong. It’s one of the reasons that the legal profession ranks somewhere below used car salesmen in terms of morality.

The comments that follow the column are interesting. One is right on the money:

george said...
I hate to break this to you but whether Supreme Court standards are adhered to is not crucial in the least. Just because those standards allow you to act indecently and make fools of yourselves by considering race as an admissions criteria doesn't mean you are required to do so. You can always do the right thing and omit such considerations entirely.

To the extent the Supreme Court allows racists in positions of authority to act in this manner the court loses its legitimacy. Luckily, Sandra Day O'Connor said that in a couple of decades there will be some sort of harmonic inversion of morality and such actions will be illegal once again. Judges say the darndest things when they are rationalizing their policy decisions.

Racial or cultural diversity is no more an excuse for rewarding certain groups than racial and cultural purity was for rewarding others. The people who practice either are equally guilty and morally repellant. There is no place for such people in a civilized society.

I am not even sure why universities have admissions offices as gatekeepers. If someone wants the service I offer and is willing and able to pay then I provide the service. In this case if the student is unable to keep up then the financial incentive is there for them to move to a service better matching their abilities. You scale your business up or down to match the demand.

It should be up to the customer to determine if your service is appropriate. It is not for the university to determine who its customers are. That inverts the power structure and causes abuses like we see here.

If a restaurant excluded or included customers based on their race they would rightfully be shut down. What makes universities think they are any different? How did we come to have our academic institutions held to a lower standard than our fast food restaurants?
Contemplate it, savor it, admit it’s true: fast food restaurants are morally superior to American universities.

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