Monday, February 09, 2009

UVa Law's Pledge Of Allegiance To Diversity

Prejudice and discrimination is bad -- unless it is prejudice and discrimination against whites, of course

Karin Agness reports (on NRO's Phi Beta Cons) that the Student Bar Association at the University of Virginia law school is encouraging all students to sign the "2009 Diversity Pledge." She quotes the entire Pledge, which I encourage you to read, but I will limit my comments here to its first paragraph:
Every person has worth as an individual. Every person is entitled to dignity and respect, regardless of class, color, disability, gender, nationality, race, or sexual orientation. Thoughts and acts of prejudice have no place in the UVA Law community.

"Prejudice" is a mental condition - a pre-conceived opinion impervious to facts that don't fit; an idea, value, attitude, belief - and thus it's not clear exactly what an "act of prejudice" would be. No matter, because the budding lawyers would also ban any prejudicial thoughts. Yes, but what is a prejudicial thought? Let us, generously I think, make some assumptions here (assumptions are necessary because the text isn't clear): first, that although what the UVa lawyers-in-waiting actually say is that
Every person has worth as an individual. Every person is entitled to dignity and respect, regardless of class, color, disability, gender, nationality, race, or sexual orientation...

what they really mean is that every person has equal worth, that every person is entitled to equal dignity and respect, regardless of race, sex, etc. In other words, they seem to be saying no students should be the victim of prejudicial thoughts or acts based on those thoughts because of their class, color, disability, gender, nationality, race, or sexual orientation (and, if I might make another assumption here, presumably not because of their religion, ethnicity, or national origin as well).

If my assumptions are correct, then this is an impressive pledge (although the attempt to banish even bad thoughts in Mr. Jefferson's University is overreaching a bit). But, alas, my assumptions can't possibly be correct, because if these future lawyers really meant that everyone should be treated without regard to race, etc., they would have to oppose UVa's heavy use of race preferences in admissions, and of course they do not. A 2002 study by the Center for Equal Opportunity found that the UVa law school gives a
massive preference to black applicants over their Hispanic, white, and Asian counterparts. The relative odds of admission of a black over a white applicant for UVA, controlling for other factors, were almost 650 to 1 in 1998 and 730 to 1 in 1999 (the highest in any CEO study).

The practice of rewarding some and penalizing others because of their race or ethnicity is not consistent with the pledge to treat everyone with equal respect regardless of their race or ethnicity.


The more I think about UVa's Diversity Pledge, the more I think of ... Miss Faulk. As I wrote here:
My eighth grade teacher, the formidable Miss Faulk, refused to require (or, as I recall, even allow) students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in her classroom. She had no problem with "under God," but Miss Faulk was a fiercely unreconstructed Confederate, and she had a great deal of trouble with "one nation, indivisible."

Modern liberals are, of course, much more sensitive than Miss Faulk. They want to extend the borders of "inclusion" so that no one will be or even feel different, isolated, excluded.

Well, maybe not no one. What about the feelings of any students who might be skeptical about this Pledge, who refused to sign because, although they had no problem with the abstract "diverse" thoughts it expressed, they held principled objections to the "diverse" actions that flowed inexorably from these thoughts? Would not such students feel "different," unwanted, excluded if the Pledge were posted or published and their names were conspicuously absent?

Given their devotion to "diversity," it's almost surprising that the UVa Student Bar Association settled for encouraging everyone merely to sign its Pledge. If "diversity" is so important to the law student "community," why settle for a mere paper Pledge? Why not ask (require?) that the day begin with the Pledge broadcast every morning throughout the law school? Students who did not want to be exposed to this daily devotional could be allowed to opt out, perhaps by being supplied with a set of ear plugs (paid for, of course, out of student activity fees).


Snow-phobic Britain: The health and safety rules that closed many schools

And with all that marvellous bureaucratic Leftist "planning" they could not even provide as much gritting salt as they needed

The stringent health and safety rules which forced thousands of schools to close following heavy snowfalls can be revealed for the first time. Diktats issued to head teachers specify in precise detail the width of paths that must be cleared and the amount of grit to be laid. They are even asked to consider the weight of the shovel provided to caretakers in order to prevent overexertion.

Travellers faced another day of difficult conditions yesterday , when plunging overnight temperatures created treacherous conditions on many roads as melted snow turned into sheet ice. Forecasters warned that more bad weather is on its way, with more snow expected to fall in the North and Scotland today and tomorrow , with rain and sleet across southern England.

More than 2.5 million children at over 8,000 schools across the country were forced to stay at home for parts of last week, keeping millions of parents off work and costing the economy billions of pounds in lost business. But a Sunday Telegraph investigation has found that it was often not the snow that paralysed schools, but health and safety guidelines which demand that heads eliminate almost all risk.
* In Kent, the county council told head teachers that they have no power to direct staff to turn up if a teacher decides that the weather conditions are dangerous. The head must also make allowances for nervous or new drivers and even take account of the kind of car they drive. "Take in to consideration disability, nervous or new drivers, four-wheel drive and other things that affect ease of journey," its guidance says.

* Gloucestershire County Council, where more than 90 schools were closed, said head teachers needed to take account of the effect of the snow on caretakers whose job it was to clear the snow. The advice says heads must even "consider the size of shovel provided" to ensure it does not place extra strain "on the stomach, back and abdominal muscles and helps prevent overexertion". Heads are also told that they are responsible for ensuring "frequent breaks are taken when snow clearing" and that those clearing snow "go inside and warm up".

* In Hertfordshire, the health and safety policy specifies that a "one metre wide path" must be cleared from the site entrance to the school. Heads were also asked to carry out "moving and handling" assessments to determine whether wheelbarrows are needed to move grit.

* The Isle of Wight told its staff that precisely "6mm of rock salt and grit sand mix" must be used on surfaces that are prone to get icy.

* In Leicester, teachers were sent a missive entitled "A gritty issue" which warned them that "the general use of salt is not an automatic defence to a claim if someone is injured by a slip or a fall".

* Walsall Council told its staff: "The safety of pupils on their journey to and from school and the nature of that journey will need to be considered. The safety of pupils once they reach home will also need to be considered."

Chris Hassall, the head teacher of Taylor Road primary school in Leicester, which remained open while other schools in the city were shut all week, said: "Heads are damned if they do and damned if they don't. "The local authority is warning you might get sued and parents are risk averse. Heads are thinking 'What's in it for me if I break ranks and open? Absolutely nothing.'"

Motoring organisations yesterday warned of dangerous road conditions as councils struggled to cope with shortages of grit. Police forces across the West Country advised motorists to only make journeys if they were essential as many roads were covered in black ice. Roads across Wiltshire were particularly badly affected, with several closures on Friday night and Saturday morning. Local authorities in some areas gave up trying to clear minor roads after running out of gritting salt and are concentrating only on main routes.


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