Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Disconnected List: Fun With Stereotypes, Generalizations, and Profiling

The following selections have been condensed here to serve as a part of my lengthier blog entry

Fun With Stereotypes, Generalizations, and Profiling

Duke wrote:

Modern dogma holds that diversity is one of the greatest qualities a society can enjoy, that it bestows many advantages. But what does this imply? Well, by definition "diversity" refers to differences among groups. Now, not only is it illogical to assume that every one of these differences will be flattering, the supposition that diversity is beneficial implies otherwise. After all, if diversity is beneficial, it is only because certain groups bring qualities or strengths to the table that others do not. And, if a given group possesses a certain unique strength, then other groups are wanting in that area relative to it.

I respond:

No. Difference is only one definition of diversity. Multiformity is another. Diversity is beneficial not because of the visible strengths one group brings to the table, but the variant IDEAS each individual at the table will be able to offer having been immersed in an entirely unique culture. Diversity is not a matter of measuring intellectual strength verses physical strength verses capable strength verses potential strength verses statistical strengths across ethnic lines. Diversity is the championing of IDEAS that challenge our own, tons of valuable IDEAS that any one individual could not have conjured solo. Diversity is the acknowledgement that the widening of an idea pool is beneficial in all regards, therefore culling new ideas from sources as vast as separate historical cultures. There is no culture, to use Duke’s word, “wanting” in the area of ideas.

Duke wrote:

Stereotypes often arise because they have a basis in reality.

I respond:

No. Stereotypes arise because they have a basis in ignorance. Ignorant to environmental or cultural reasons why any two of the same culture might partake in a practice askew from the perceiver’s culture, the perceiver makes her/his observation in a vacuum. That’s the stereotype. I’ve a friend who’d put the issue quite succinctly. He, of a generally anti-PC stance, still said of stereotypes, “The logical defect is the assumption that one can judge the whole by the part [and call it reality.]” Sadly it’s the ignorance that’s the reality, not the observation that proved the onlooker ignorant.

Duke wrote:

…often it has been remarked that Irishmen liked to drink. Once again, intelligent people know this doesn't mean that every Irishman is a drunkard, but informed people might know something else: Ireland ranks number two in the world in per capita alcohol consumption next to Luxemburg.

I respond:

…which begs the question, what mass mental shortcomings are at work for the stereotype NOT to have been applied to Luxembourgers?

Duke asked:

So then why are the Maryland State Police probably going to have to pay money for saying what these academics got paid money to say.

I answer:

Because academics are not entrusted with the use of deadly physical force. In fact, life and death situations, the likes of which we empower our law enforcement officers to control, are pretty much the opposite extreme from anything remotely academic. Academics is words, ideas, books, debates. Law enforcement is physical, practical, direct, personal, street smart, and life threatening. It deserves to be consistently fine-tooth-combed for potential flaws pursuant to its life-threatening architecture. Some of the only effective censure we have on the life and death power we’ve granted them is financial censure when those potential flaws are revealed.

Duke wrote:

And here is another truth. I have only one thing to say about the idea that Hispanics are reluctant to learn English: I've never been asked if I wanted to press two for German.

I respond with several truths:

A) We and Duke do not live on the border of Germany.

B) We and Duke do not live in a nation where within a few years an estimated 25% of the country’s population will be descended from German speaking nations, but rather we do with regard to Spanish speaking individuals having achieved legal U.S. citizenship. Readers might otherwise know them as Americans.

C) Duke and I are both smart enough to understand that when one is trying to support a family on minimum wage, it doesn’t leave a lot of cash around for English classes and tutors; while the many American Spanish speakers excelling at careers who would otherwise earn solvent wages already have a decent enough handle on English to render classes unnecessary. Excuse me for slacking on the English here, but the nonsense word “DUH” comes to mind.

D) I find it interesting that the very U.S. Census Bureau information cited in Duke’s piece to push the humor about “pressing two for German” is a collection of data that completely excludes almost all Spanish speaking groups. It would have been interesting to see how the two sets of data stack up side by side. Duke’s cited data is here. The groups used to collect that data, just two clicks away, are listed here.

E) Call me silly, but I just have a hard time aching for a person who is pained by pressing a button approximately once every fourteen days. I suppose waiting that extra second before the automated voice continues in English is far too long for Duke.

RETURN TO: Fun With Stereotypes, Generalizations, and Profiling

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