To the best of my knowledge, there exists absolutely no scientific evidence today in favor of any statistically significant genetic difference in mental abilities across races. Yet, I do not think we understand genetics well enough to absolutely rule out such a possibility. So I do not rule out the possibility that African Americans, are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent. In fact, I do not rule out this possibility for any race — Whites, South Asians, Mongoloids, Eskimos.
My position on the matter is identical to Eugene Volokh’s. “Whether there are genetic differences among racial and ethnic groups in intelligence is a question of scientific fact. Either there are, or there aren’t (or, more precisely, either there are such differences under some plausible definitions of the relevant groups and of intelligence, or there aren’t). The question is not the moral question about what we should do about those differences, if they exist. It’s not a question about what we would like the facts to be. The facts are what they are, whether we like them or not.”
The same is true for other group classifications, such as gender. In fact, according to noted Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker and many other experts, there is fairly good evidence of differences in mental abilities between males and females. For certain mental tasks it appears that males, on average, are genetically better equipped; for certain others, females are.
What is important is this: Even if some differences in mental ability exists across groups, given the extremely large variation between individuals in any group, these differences are irrelevant from a moral or legal standpoint. It is not racist or sexist to suggest or believe that differences exist on average; it is racist and sexist to suggest we should treat people differently purely because they belong to a certain group.
What is even more important is this: The culture of pervasive political correctness today that makes is impossible to ask such questions without facing a huge backlash and social ostracization is stifling to intellectual curiousity, degrading to our intelligence and speaks only ill of our open-mindedness; in short like everything else associated with political correctness it is evil.
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Posted in people, tagged army, attitudes, hypersensitivity, language, military, offended feelings, paki, political correctness, prince harry, racism on January 11, 2009|
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So apparently there is a raging controversy about Prince Harry’s use of politically insensitive terms during his military stint (he jokingly called a friend a ‘raghead’ and referred to another of Pakistani origin as a ‘our little Paki friend’). The army has announced it will commence an inquiry and newspapers are calling for Harry to be severely disciplined.
Ah well. I cannot help but agree with this blogger at Samizdata:
Sounds like a great guy to me. Sure, I am all for abominating racism like any other form of odious collectivism (like socialism for example, which is tyranny for all rather than just tyranny for certain racial groups), but this hypersensitivity to any politically incorrect use of language is really annoying.
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A professor at UC Irvine refuses to take sexual harassment sensitivity classes. Here’s why:
First of all, I believe the training is a disgraceful sham. As far as I can tell from my colleagues, it is worthless, a childish piece of theater, an insult to anyone with a respectable IQ, primarily designed to relieve the university of liability in the case of lawsuits. I have not been shown any evidence that this training will discourage a harasser or aid in alerting the faculty to the presence of harassment.
What’s more, the state, acting through the university, is trying to coerce and bully me into doing something I find repugnant and offensive. I find it offensive not only because of the insinuations it carries and the potential stigma it implies, but also because I am being required to do it for political reasons. The fact is that there is a vocal political/cultural interest group promoting this silliness as part of a politically correct agenda that I don’t particularly agree with.
The imposition of training that has a political cast violates my academic freedom and my rights as a tenured professor. The university has already nullified my right to supervise my laboratory and the students I teach. It has threatened my livelihood and, ultimately, my position at the university. This for failing to submit to mock training in sexual harassment, a requirement that was never a condition of my employment at the University of California 30 years ago, nor when I came to UCI 11 years ago.
I also found this bit interesting:
I am not normally confrontational, so I sought to find a means to resolve the conflict. I proposed the following: I would take the training if the university would provide me with a brief, written statement absolving me of any suspicion, guilt or complicity regarding sexual harassment. I wanted any possible stigma removed. “Fulfilling this requirement,” said the statement I asked them to approve, “in no way implies, suggests or indicates that the university currently has any reason to believe that Professor McPherson has ever sexually harassed any student or any person under his supervision during his 30-year career with the University of California.”
The university, however, declined to provide me with any such statement.
(Hat Tip: Instapundit)
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Posted in India, libertarianism, tagged anti-discrimination, chilling effect, david bernstein, free speech, freedom of expression, hate speech, laws, offended feelings, political correctness, rights, slippery slope on October 21, 2008|
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David Bernstein has a fine post where he explains the perils of having ‘reasonable restriction on free speech’ such as hate speech laws:
When I was in law school, advocates of weakening First Amendment protections to restrict “hate speech” pointed to Canada as a shining example of how egregious expression could be banned without threatening freedom of speech more generally. At the time, the Canadian Supreme Court was holding that Holocaust denial and violent, misogynistic pornography are not protected under Canadian constiutitional law. And, really, who wants to defend Holocaust denial and violent pornography? Yet, less than twenty year later, we have Canadian citizens being prosecuted for quoting biblical injunctions against homosexual activity, or for merely reprinting the Danish Mohammed cartoons. (For the latest outrage, see here, courtesy of Instapundit). So the Canadian example hasn’t quite worked out as its prior advocates had anticipated. Instead of being an example of “reasonable” restrictions on freedom of expression, it has become an example of the slippery slope problems inherent in allowing restrictions on freedom of expression based on subjective views of what is sufficiently offensive or problematic to be banned.
I have pointed out the same thing in several old posts. And even leaving aside the slippery-slope argument, there is something fundamentally immoral about censoring someone’s opinions because it is distasteful.
Bernstein’s post also goes into other issues, such as the intrinsic arbitrariness of tribunals that end up enforcing such laws. Read the whole thing.
By now, the most important truth ought to be obvious to all — freedom of speech needs to be absolute in order to mean anything. Thus one cannot have a thing such as a “right to never have your feelings hurt”.
Unfortunately, as Orwell famously said, to see what is one front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.
So I repeat myself, ad nauseum, for that is all I can do really.
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This is what happens when political correctness is taken too far.
The ordeal began last week when Hensley’s wife sent him to a local grocery store to buy ground beef. While there, Hensley encountered a woman with her two nieces, ages 11 and 13. “I offered to trade her a fattening hog for those girls,” Hensley said. “I meant it as a joke. I’ve said it a million times. Most people get a kick out of it.”
The woman didn’t laugh. Instead, the family obtained a warrant for Hensley’s arrest from the local prosecutor, claiming the comment was intended to entice the children into illegal sexual activity.
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Check out Ilya Somin’s post at Volokh about the United Nations campaign to create a new international law norm banning “defamation of religion.” Money quote:
Given the broad scope of religious ethics, almost any political or ideological statement might be seen as offensive to the values of one religious group or another. To some theologically conservative Muslims and Christians, advocacy of gay equality is just as offensive to their religious sensibilities as a negative portrayal of the Prophet Mohammed. And claims that Muslim nations mistreat homosexuals might be viewed as no less “defamatory” of traditional Islam than the Mohammed cartoons. […] The right place to block this particular slippery slope is at the very top of the hill.
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