Tag Archives: disparate impact doctrine

“Is It Possible To Address A Race-Related Problem Without Being Attacked As Racist?” And Other Reflections On The Holiday Mall Brawls

mall-violence

On the City Journal website, Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute writes in part,

Judging by video evidence, the participants in the violent mall brawls over the Christmas weekend were overwhelmingly black teens, though white teens were also involved. The media have assiduously ignored this fact, of course, as they have for previous violent flash mob episodes. That disproportion has significance for the next administration’s school-discipline policies, however. If Donald Trump wants to make schools safe again, he must rescind the Obama administration’s diktats regarding classroom discipline, which are based on a fantasy version of reality that is having serious real-world consequences.

The Obama Justice and Education Departments have strong-armed schools across the country to all but eliminate the suspension and expulsion of insubordinate students. The reason? Because black students are disciplined at higher rates than whites. According to Washington bureaucrats, such disproportionate suspensions can mean only one thing: teachers and administrators are racist. The Obama administration rejects the proposition that black students are more likely to assault teachers or fight with other students in class. The so-called “school to prison” pipeline is a function of bias, not of behavior, they say.

This week’s mall violence, which injured several police and security officers, is just the latest piece of evidence for how counterfactual that credo is.  A routine complaint in police-community meetings in minority areas is that large groups of teens are fighting on corners…The idea that such street behavior does not have a classroom counterpart is ludicrous. Black males between the ages of 14 and 17 commit homicide at ten times the rate of white and Hispanic males of the same age. The lack of socialization that produces such a vast disparity in murder rates, as well as less lethal street violence, inevitably will show up in classroom behavior….School officials in urban areas across the country set up security corridors manned by police officers at school dismissal times to avoid gang shootings. And yet, the Obama administration would have us believe that in the classroom, black students are no more likely to disrupt order than white students.

The entire essay is here.

Observations: Continue reading

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When You Consider The Wisdom Of Obama’s Campaign To Destigmatize Felons, Please Also Consider Felicia Menge Kelley

Portrait of a justice-involved individual...

Portrait of a justice-involved individual…

As it attempts to bolster its political support by sucking up to convicted criminals and their families, the Obama administration has been incrementally making it more difficult to distinguish felons from law-abiding citizens, arguing that once they have paid their debt to society, maybe they are no different. HUD, carrying out the Obama administration’s new theory that felons are just plain folks,  has decreed that landlords risk federal investigations if they reject rental applicants based on the applicant’s undisputed criminal record in newly-released guidelines. 

The Justice Department and the Department of Education are now using a euphemism to make convicts and those with rap sheets sound like they have a hobby: the new cover-phrase is “justice-involved individuals.” (Hillary Clinton is apparently a justice-involved individual.)

The problem with all of this is that being convicted of a felony is not like catching a cold, and often provides a strong clue that the individual involved is not quite as trustworthy as the boy scout or girl scout next door. Take, for example, this story:

From the ABA Journal:

A woman with a history of financial crimes in multiple states got a job as an office manager and bookkeeper for a North Carolina law firm, after a background check failed to pick up her earlier convictions under a different name.

That resulted in a loss of more than $150,000 to the firm, Yow, Fox & Mannen, District Attorney Ben David of New Hanover County told the Port City Daily. The firm’s now-former employee, Felicia Menge Kelley, 44, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count of embezzlement and was sentenced to a prison term of between 82 and 111 months, the newspaper reports. She will also be required to pay over $145,000 in restitution.

Kelley, who has previously worked for other law firms in the Jacksonville area, was convicted earlier under the name of Felicia Dawn Menge…

But I’m sure she’s just an exception to the rule…and gives a bad name to decent, hard-working, justice-involved individuals. It’s not like they are criminals or something.

 

 

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Virginia’s Governor Restores The Vote To Felons

"First thing on my mind, now that I'm finally out of Shawshank, is to register to vote. Then I figure I'll look up Andy..."

“First thing on my mind, now that I’m finally out of Shawshank, is to register to vote. Then I figure I’ll look up Andy…”

Virginia’s Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order yesterday  that restored the voting rights of 206,000 ex-felons. The order applies to all violent and nonviolent felons who served their sentence. Virginia is one of a minority of states, only ten, that do not automatically restore rights upon completion of a felony sentence and one of only four  that require an application by each individual felon and action by the governor. Because this is an executive order, McAuliffe will have to reissue it every month.

McAuliffe, who is the political equivilent of Prof. Harold Hill in “The Music Man,” issued the predictable triumphal blather, saying from the Virginia Capitol steps after being introduced by a gospel choir,

“We benefit from a more just and accountable government when we put trust in all of our citizens to choose their leaders.It has taken Virginia many centuries, unfortunately, to learn this lesson. But today, we celebrate its truth.”

We get a more just and accountable government when we put trust in those who have proven themselves untrustworthy, eh?

That’s one of McAuliffe’s talents: he can make a measure that isn’t necessarily unethical at all seem like it.

Is it unethical to tell felons that they are banned from voting and running for office for life? It’s a policy choice, that’s all. A state can make lifetime disenfranchisement part of the official price for serious lawbreaking on the theory that felons have shown themselves to be  insufficiently respectful of the laws and society in general, and lowered themselves into the ranks of permanent second class citizens by their own choices and conduct. I won’t say that’s not fair: it depends what one thinks fair is. It’s tough. It signals a high regard for the rights to participate in self-government. Continue reading

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HUD: Landlords Beware! Not Renting To Criminals Is Presumptively Racist

More Bizarro World reasoning from The Obama Administration...

More Bizarro World reasoning from the Obama Administration…

The disparate impact doctrine is unfair and illogical, as well as destructive. It has been used to invalidate exams for professional advancement that result in a racial imbalance in police force brass, for example, even when no actual discriminatory practices have been identified. It has been used to eliminate school discipline for classroom disruptions, because more black students than white students are being suspended, even though no bias has been shown in enforcement. Disparate impact has allowed incompetent teachers to keep teaching, and recently, its has become an rationale  for not imprisoning convicted felons, because the current prison population is disproportionately black.

The Obama administration, being addicted to a race-biased view of American society in which all, or almost all, problems within the black community are ascribed to forces outside that community’s control, now has decreed that landlords risk federal investigations if they reject rental applicants based on the applicant’s undisputed criminal record. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s newly-released guidelines state…

“The Fair Housing Act prohibits both intentional housing discrimination and housing practices that have an unjustified discriminatory effect because of race, national origin, or other protected characteristics. Because of widespread racial and ethnic disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system, criminal history-based restrictions on access to housing are likely disproportionately to burden African-Americans and Hispanics. While the Act does not prohibit housing providers from appropriately considering criminal history information when making housing decisions, arbitrary and overbroad criminal history-related bans are likely to lack a legally sufficient justification.”

Sinister as this is, I’m sure it is sincere. The Obama Administration, obviously programed by the man who bears its name, is consumed by a bias in favor of non-whites, based on the assumption that they are inevitably victimized in U.S. society. Disparate impact could be properly used as a clue to uncovering actual bias and discrimination, but the presumption that disparate impact must be based on bias is itself a bias, and leads to intrusive and unfair regulations and  Big Brother-style “Be Careful! We’re Watching!” warnings like this one. Continue reading

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The Destructive, Useful, Unethical Presumption of Bigotry, Part I: California’s Anti-School Discipline Law

Last year, in September, California became the first state to prohibit by law the suspension of students for “willful defiance” unless the activities involved were certified by the school superintendent as meeting the specific standards enumerated in the law, all of them very serious, most of them already crimes. What was the rationale behind Assembly Bill 420? Well, it seems African American kids were being disproportionately suspended. They made up about 6 percent of total enrollment, but 19 percent of suspensions for defiance.

According to the Justice Department’s politically motivated embrace of the “disparate impact” approach, any policy that disproportionately affects a minority group adversely is presumptively racist. It couldn’t possibly be true that black students are, as a group, more likely to defy authority, especially the authority of white teachers, right? The fact that pundits, members of the Congressional Black Caucus, MSNBC, Al Sharpton and the President keep hammering on the idea that America is run by a racist cabal, and that the only reason we aren’t getting ready to replace Teddy Roosevelt with Barack Obama on Mount Rushmore is that his wonderful accomplishments have been denied and distorted by white racists, and that our police departments are hunting down and murdering unarmed young black men as the justice system looks the other way—none of this could possibly be feeding anger, frustration, and hate among  among young black students that is translated into willful defiance in class—why would anyone think that?

The law is lunacy. The California state government is endorsing the idea that the schools, especially white teachers, are bigots, and thus the government is reinforcing exactly the emotions and beliefs that feed African American classroom defiance in the first place. Now uncooperative minority students will be able to have their disruptive conduct validated (with disruptive conduct by non-minority students similarly encouraged), treated gently and with understanding, inevitably reducing the educational value of class by allowing more chaos and less discipline, undermining the education of well-behaved students black or white. Meanwhile, toxic behaviors, attitudes and conduct by students that will hamper their prospects of success after school will not attract trigger negative reinforcement.

And when the out-of-school defiant conduct occurs later in response to a lawful command by a police officer?

You might get Michael Brown.

This is such a good plan. Continue reading

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Twelve Post-Veto Ethics Observations On The Arizona “Religious Freedom” Bill

veto2

1. As we now know, Governor Brewer vetoed AZ SB1062, the so-called “religious freedom” bill that was widely (and accurately) interpreted as support for discrimination against gays. In the previous post, I suggested that her delay in doing so sent a message that was as hostile to gays as the law itself: if she felt the law was ethically wrong, then she should have and would have announced that she would not sign the bill long ago. Instead, she waited to see how much economic damage the law would do to the state, and then vetoed it, not because this was the right ting to do, but because it was the pragmatic thing to do. (As the satiric Borowitz Report put it, “The state of Arizona found itself in the middle of a conundrum today as it awoke to the awkward realization that gay people have money and buy stuff.”) USA Today noted that, to the contrary,”Some political insiders believe Brewer has allowed furor over the legislation to build to thwart social conservatives’ attempts to push a similar bill later.” I doubt it, but if so, Brewer allowed her state and her fellow Republicans to be represented nationally as homophobic for as long as possible to spare herself the inconvenience of vetoing a second bill.

2. Despite the extravagant debate over the bill, almost no commentators actually published the bill’s text in the commentary. The reason appears to be that since the bill is really an amendment of an existing law, it takes a modicum of intelligence to figure out what’s going on. Here it is (the original law is in black; the new text is in blue; what has been removed in the amended version is struck through): Continue reading

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Case Study In Conservative Media Bias: The Department of Education’s “Dear Colleague Letter”

corporal-punishment

Ethics Alarms devotes a great amount of commentary to the mainstream media’s left-leaning bias—as it should. The major news media sources in the U.S. have become untrustworthy, too often serve as willing tools of government, specifically Democratic Party-controlled government, policy, which is exactly the opposite of the role they are ethically obligated to play. The right-biased news organizations are just as biased but far less numerous or powerful, and have the unique disadvantage of being generally regarded as biased and unreliable because the mainstream media tells us so with great regularity.

Misleading news reporting is still misleading, however, and a recent example is the conservative news media’s characterization of the January letter that went out from the Department of Education and the Justice Department to school districts around the country regarding discriminatory class discipline. The letter (FULL TEXT here) describes various types of common discrimination, but the part of it that the conservative media has focused upon is its discussion of “disparate impact.” The letter says… Continue reading

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