Diversity Is Not Always Desirable Part V

Diversity Is Not Always Desirable Part I
Part II, Part III
Part IV, Part V

It’s time to hear from our enemies on what they say maximal diversity is. The official definition, straight from the source, Berkeley University:

Diversity refers to human qualities that are different from our own and those of groups to which we belong; but that are manifested in other individuals and groups. Dimensions of diversity include but are not limited to: age, ethnicity, gender, physical abilities/qualities, race, sexual orientation, educational background, geographic location, income, marital status, military experience, parental status, religious beliefs, work experience, and job classification.

The point here is to not to criticize Berkeley individually, for this definition, or something very like it, appears at universities throughout the land and is reproduced in corporate human resource handbooks everywhere. If you feel that I have mischaracterized what is meant by “diversity”, now is your chance to point to this definition and say, “See here, Briggs. This clause clearly shows you to be wrong.” Once you go through this exercise, you will find that not only have I been right in all, but that my attempts at definitions have been more rigorous and clear than my opponents’.

Note very carefully that I am not speaking of what might or might not happen to be written into any “affirmative action” or “equal opportunity” laws. We are not discussing law, and any such comments are irrelevant.

Take any characteristic in Berkeley’s list and ask, what could they possibly mean? For instance, “age” as a “dimension of diversity.” Presumably—as I have presumed—this means diversifying a scope (Berkeley’s student body, say) with respect to age. Let infants matriculate, should we? If you say, “No! Don’t be absurd” it is you who are disagreeing with the written policy of diversity. You are overlaying an arbitrary rule that says those of a certain age shall not form part of the diversity calculus. It may happen that I agree with your ad hoc rule. But will everybody? And it means that “diversity with respect to age” does not mean “diversity with respect to age” but something else.

How about “sexual orientation”? Should our list of diverse behaviors include necrophiliacs and pedophiles? Say no and once more you invoke arbitrary rules. Say no and you admit that diversity is not desirable. Say no and you deny that “human qualities that are different from our own and those of groups to which we belong” should sometimes be shunned. If you say no, you admit of moral absolutes. And that, my dear reader, is dangerous (slippery slopped?) ground.

Care to take a stab at “physical abilities/qualities”? Part of this aspect surely includes (in our scope) students unable to learn. Grades are really unfair anyway, aren’t they? Should we include those unable to master their studies? Say no and you admit restrictions and limits of diversity. Say no and…well, I hope by now that you get the idea. And we haven’t even gotten started! What about “work experience” (genocidal maniac?), “religious belief” (human sacrifice?), language, and on and on? Oh my, we shall never be diverse!

The whole point of this laborious, pedantic essay up to this point has been to prove to you what you might not have heretofore granted. That “diversity” as it is used by its proponents retains no shade of meaning with its plain English sense. It instead is a code word; a way to hide political motives, perhaps even motives not fully understood by the word’s users; a phrase having a purely technical definition which runs something like this:

Within in a scope diversity is the state of (maximal or proportional, whichever is more convenient to my politics) difference in behavior and characteristic, both of which are chosen from a narrow range most conducive to my personal likes and political goals. Diversity is not diversity—a state of difference; dissimilitude; unlikeness.—but unity with my desires.

Since politics are ever shifting, so does “diversity.” You must understand that some of these politics may be right and proper, considered with respect to other criteria beside “diversity.” For example, I think it is a fine idea to proscribe human sacrifice, given my belief in the sanctity of human life. And what about the poor soul who was improperly denied what was rightfully his simply because of his skin color? He should have recourse through the law to be given his due. Then again, much of the politics behind “diversity” will also be wrong and improper, considered with respect to, say, the existence of moral absolutes.

We need retain scope in our definition, because diversity over the entire Earth is something like a maximum. (Finally, we reach the “something like.”) Obviously, diversity is not maximal (it cannot be proportional, that concept now being impossible to define uniquely for the entire population), because there are many characteristics and behaviors that do not find representation among the extant population but that are physically or biologically possible. Should we encourage “experiments in living” so that these unrepresented states obtain? To ask the question is to answer it. Diversity really is the dumbest idea ever.

I have reached the end, at least of your patience. There is much more than can be said, but it will have to wait for another time or place.

Diversity Is Not Always Desirable Part I
Part II, Part III
Part IV, Part V

40 Comments

  1. Funnily enough, those who most loudly plead for moral relativism are those who also claim that there are universal “human rights”. I do not say the later claim is wrong, but it is inconsistent with moral relativism.

    This is from part IV.

    This is surely not a stab directed to me, but I felt the pain, so here I am, correcting you, in this rather blatantly wrong paragraph of yours. It is a normal complaint that realists or objectivists propose against relativism, but it’s wrong nevertheless. I’ll explain why.

    First, let’s start by decomposing the “pleading” for moral relativism. We can interpret this in two ways. The first is that there are people who “plead”, that is, they think that moral nihilism is the way to go, that the lack of any reference whatsoever is a good thing that should be porsued

    This line of thinking is absurd and contradictory. By the time anyone says that “moral relativism” *is the way to go* they are no longer “relativists”, but actually asserting their own specific moral values (multiculturalism, etc.) and trying to impose them on the society. This is *anything but* moral relativism. I know, there are people who don’t see the inconsistency of their beliefs, but that’s the way it is.

    The second way is the correct one, which is to say that “Moral Relativism” is *not* about how society *should* be, it is *not* a moral *proposal*, but a recognition of a state of affairs, an observation of how things behave in this world.

    An analogy comes to mind for a little help. There are people (creationists) who firmly believe that if we dare to accept the fact of evolution then we will behave as if “the stronger wins the game”, etc. That is, they conflate an observation with a moral obligation. If one is an “evolutionist”, surely we cannot say that he is a “social darwinist” by that fact alone. He can be an evolutionist and at the same time abhorring the way that social or animal systems behave, and dream of better ways to live.

    Returning to moral relativism, what *smart* moral relativists say is that there is no absolute reference and that morals are defined inter-subjectively by a group of people, by traditions and by praxis. There is no *objective* rights or wrongs, although we can say that some criteria (like suffering) is general enough to be of universal value (which is not to say objective!), and even such can have problems (what if people are masochistic?).

    This does not stop people from *desiring* their own values to be universalized. Therefore there is no inherent contradiction between moral relativists and the declaration of Human Rights. Because the key word of “human rights” is not Absolute, is not Objective, but Universal, which is a consensus word. You don’t need morals to be absolute for them to be “widely accepted”. You just need people to accept them.

    But they do this with the awareness that their values are not the Absolute Ones, and this humbleness is useful too. Of course, this makes these people less sure of themselves, which is always a weakness when confronting fanatics of their own morals, but this tension is healthy, and the more wise a person is, the better.

    Myself, I consider to be a profound moral relativist, and without any problems whatsoever in declaring the Human Rights to be a good charter, and to denounce the depravities of misogeny and abuse in other cultures. Because while I observe the moral relativity of the world, I nevertheless have a very precise “moral dream”, moral vision of what I would like the world to be. IOW, I belong to this world and have a clear opinion about it.

    It is perhaps the absence of the latter that makes many “moral relativists” disgusting, because they seem like people that are “above” morals, and yet they can’t even see that they themselves are completely moralistic and full of prejudices.

  2. You say, Note very carefully that I am not speaking of what might or might not happen to be written into any “affirmative action” or “equal opportunity” laws. We are not discussing law, and any such comments are irrelevant.” I’m not sure you’re right to choose this approach.

    If we take you seriously and limit ourselves solely to Berkley’s definition who could complain? Certainly humans vary in terms of the characteristics listed. We may even decide that it’s a good thing they do. Diversity solely defined as the variations in the human population is not a dumb idea at all. Stupefyingly obvious, yes, but not dumb.

    It becomes dumb, I suggest, only in the context in which Berkley’s definition is embedded: affirmative action, employment law, social engineering. It’s that actions taken to bring about a particular vision of diversity that are dumb not diversity per se, that is , the context you have explicitly excluded.

  3. Isn’t it ironic that this “diversity” initiative, by putting so much emphasis on differences–with the intent to ensure that differences are not used prejudicially–helps induce the very fundamental problem it is allegedly trying to remedy?

  4. I re-read St. Paul’s Letters to the Corinthians yesterday, looking to verify that the statement that the “greatest of these is love.” If you haven’t read Corinthians lately, it’s like reading the blog of a two-thousand year-old poster. St. Paul wrote a lot on the issue of diversity. Hard to think of the New Testament as a series of blog-posts…but it did occur to me.
    .

  5. I’m going to include your responses from the last segment, and fold them into this one.

    You and Ender both appear to miss, or turn a blind eye to, proportional diversity, which I do not exclude. Why is this? I say that, at times, those who ponder diversity sometimes do mean maximal and sometimes do mean proportional.

    We turn a blind eye to it, because the vast majority of your analogies and examples assume striving for maximal diversity. 80% of the text would disappear if you ignored maximal diversity, and as Ender stated at one point: maximal diversity is self-evidently stupid. You say there are people that argue for this proposition – please show me one. I’d be right beside you arguing against that notion.

    People really do argue for this stuff. They never explicitly state that some behaviors are forbidden, taboo, or anathema.

    Again, this is a point worth making. I think people should be constantly evaluating their assumptions, and talk explicitly about them. If this essay series was written to further this goal, then it’s laudable, but your rhetoric does not work towards that goal.

    But I make the same challenge to you as I have to Ender, what is diversity? Be as explicit as I have. If you feel you have a case to make about my definitions being wrong, you should be able to state definitely what “diversity” is. Are you up to it?

    Berkeley’s definition works just fine for me. The problem with this whole essay is the assumption that diversity is the endpoint, that diversity is a good to be maximized at all costs. From that same UC Berkeley page: “Equal employment opportunity is the core concept that unifies diversity and affirmative action efforts; that everyone should have equal access to employment opportunities.” You say that evoking equal opportunity won’t work, but why not? That’s the point of diversity.

    So let me explicitly state my position:

    In order to reduce discrimination, seeking diversity (as defined above) among qualified applicants is a useful tool.

    You are overlaying an arbitrary rule that says those of a certain age shall not form part of the diversity calculus. It may happen that I agree with your ad hoc rule. But will everybody?[…] If you say, “No! Don’t be absurd” it is you who are disagreeing with the written policy of diversity[…] Say no and you admit restrictions and limits of diversity[…]

    Well, yes, there are restrictions and limits. Having other requirements (such as basic proficiency in pre-requisite courses), such that infants that can’t speak let alone undersand algebra won’t get into a calculus course does not disagree with the written policy: again, the goal of diversity is not to the exclusion of other requirements. And to say that not everyone will agree with my definition is self-evident, but it is not a proof against the concept.

    Oh my, we shall never be diverse!

    We won’t if your only definition of diversity is “maximal diversity.” Let’s say you achieve a professoriate contains 10% black professors, and 10% hispanic professors, and 50% women (to name 3 arbitrary characteristics). Some might argue you’re sufficiently diverse, others might argue that you should strive for more. But that professoriate is certainly more diverse than one made up entirely of white men.

    Since politics are ever shifting, so does “diversity.”

    Yes. So?

    Obviously, diversity is not maximal (it cannot be proportional, that concept now being impossible to define uniquely for the entire population)

    You can’t just say, “Since we can’t agree on a definition of proportional diversity that every human will agree on, it does not exist, and it’s not worth pursuing.” That’s like saying, “There’s not a definition of murder that everyone can agree on, so murder doesn’t exist and we shouldn’t try to proscribe it.”

    Luis Dias already made many points about moral relativism far better than I would, but some are worth repeating:

    “Moral Relativism” is *not* about how society *should* be, it is *not* a moral *proposal*, but a recognition of a state of affairs, an observation of how things behave in this world.

    It is a fact that people don’t agree about morals. But to say that this disagreement means that we can never or should never try to reach moral conclusions is absurd. You say:

    I think it is a fine idea to proscribe human sacrifice, given my belief in the sanctity of human life.

    But what if I (or someone else) define the scope of “human sacrifice” to include sending soldiers to war? Or what if I (or someone else) defined “human life” as starting when puberty is reached, allowing killing of infants? Or what if I (or someone else) include animals under my umbrella of “sanctity of life?” If any of these statements are true (and I know at least 2 of them are), then by your standard there’s no way to define human sacrifice, so discussing whether or not to proscribe human sacrifice is impossible.

  6. Kevin,

    We won’t if your only definition of diversity is “maximal diversity.” Let’s say you achieve a professoriate contains 10% black professors, and 10% hispanic professors, and 50% women (to name 3 arbitrary characteristics). Some might argue you’re sufficiently diverse, others might argue that you should strive for more. But that professoriate is certainly more diverse than one made up entirely of white men.

    You are implicitly using quotas. Maybe you don’t like that word “quota” but a rose by any other name … and all that. I wonder, should a group like the Black Panthers be resoundingly decried for not including enough whites? Or is large proportion of whites the only criterion for non-diversity? IOW: is “diversity” something that is selectively applied?

    Since politics are ever shifting, so does “diversity.”
    Yes. So?

    Ahhh! The sweetness of children who have grown knowing none but the Nanny-State.

    So: the goal posts are constantly being moved. That’s what. Diversity can never be satisfied. Note that your previous comment admits this when you said “some might argue …”. Remember, this is MORE than an intellectual exercise. Behemoth U.is COMMITTED to making it happen. That means constant nagging at the very least.

  7. All,

    Just woke up (Tuesday morning here), and I have to run to an appointment, which means I won’t be able to answer any comments for many hours, possibly even tomorrow (24 more hours). I’m not ignoring them, though, and will get to them.

    Important All critics must be able to provide their own definition of “diversity”, complete with limits, boundaries, etc., just as I have.

  8. Briggs said:
    “And that, my dear reader, is dangerous (slippery slopped?) ground. “

    You have to be careful how you handle slop. I guess you can have slippery slop on a slope, and call it slippery sloped ground. Or, is the slope slippery slopped?

    Kevin said :
    “You say that evoking equal opportunity won’t work, but why not? That’s the point of diversity.”

    The point of diversity is to control individual group outcomes. Why bother with the concept of diversity if there is not a perceived need to correct individual group outcomes according to some political formula?

  9. Diversity is a basic human right and the people who oppose diversity the most are very Conservative and/or religious.

    Here is an outline of fundamental principals:

    1. Diversity and tolerance are basic human rights.

    2. Evolution is scientific fact: Humans are evolving to being Transgender.

    3. Sexual rights are human rights.

    4. No one has the right to impose “morals” or to pass judgment on others.

    5. Violence is never the answer.

    6. We must transform the United States into a progressive nation that respects the Earth and all peoples.

    7. We must help President Obama to transform America.

    8. Health Care is also a basic human right.

    9. Gay Marriage must be legal and accepted in all 50 states.

    10. Americans need to be educated and learn to be part of the world community.

    http://leftwingandbraveworld.blogspot.com

  10. Mr Briggs, I will not abide to your demands ;), mostly because I am not interested in the specific “diversity” debate, but more about the moral relativistic one.

    I find the “diversity” debate a very distracting one. Quite uninteresting really. Must be an american thing, with the “affirmative action” and all…

  11. @DAV –

    You are implicitly using quotas. Maybe you don’t like that word “quota” but a rose by any other name … and all that.

    No I’m not – I postulated an arbitrary set of percentages without passing judgement on them. I never said “we must have this number, and not some other number.” Briggs says that proportional diversity is impossible, but all the arguments are against maximal diversity. My point is that there are places in between no diversity and maximal diversity. I’m not saying that it’s well defined, and it’s probably worth discussing where along that spectrum it is desirable to be, but Briggs has never even acknowledged that that grey area exists.

    So: the goal posts are constantly being moved. That’s what. Diversity can never be satisfied. Note that your previous comment admits this when you said “some might argue …”. Remember, this is MORE than an intellectual exercise. Behemoth U.is COMMITTED to making it happen.

    Ahh, now this is a different argument. Are you saying that there is no laudable goal where the definition of success might change at a later time? If that’s the case, I think you’d be hard-pressed to come up with anything worth pursuing. I don’t think that’s what your saying, and here you’re making a practical and political argument – one that I think is worth discussing. But Briggs has explicitly stated that he’s not interested in that, and believes that his “proof” renders ANY discussion of diversity untenable. THAT’s what I object to: the notion that a goal that doesn’t have strict parameters of measurement that are universally agreed upon is somehow unworthy of discussion.

    Want to talk to me about what levels of diversity (even none) are laudable? Fine, I’m up for that. Want to make the argument that it’s untenable or that the way diversity has been or is being used currently is unfair? Sure, I’ll discuss that. Want to say that the definition of diversity is too mushy and ill-conceived to have any meaning? You’re welcome to make that point, and I think I would enjoy that debate. But if you completely make up your own definition of diversity, and then act as if everyone of your opponents uses your definition, and use that as the basis for “proving” that diversity is a stupid idea, well then you’re Briggs, and your argument is meaningless. But I’m still here. Ugh.

    @ Briggs –

    Important All critics must be able to provide their own definition of “diversity”, complete with limits, boundaries, etc., just as I have.

    It’s you providing your own absurd definition of diversity, and assuming that it’s a goal in its own right that’s gotten everyone into this mess in the first place. So no, I will not come up with my own definition, because it completely misses the point. I’m happy to place a restriction on diversity and equal opportunity though: (including but not limited to) anything that renders one unqualified or unfit to perform the duties of the position.

    I’m not saying everyone will agree with my restriction, but I think we could reach a pretty strong majority. I’m pretty sure you’ve never heard someone (seriously) arguing that the NFL needs to hire paraplegics as kickers, or arguing that infants should be allowed in algebra class, so why are you arguing against those positions that no one holds?

  12. Kevin,

    Only quickly back to the computer. Mind some colloquial English? Chickening out, pal. If you can’t define diversity, you cannot adequately criticize my definition. If you say mine is wrong, you have to say where explicitly. If you cannot offer a counter definition, you concede all.

    For example take a look a Lara Spenzak’s comments. I have the idea (I don’t have time now to check) that these are meant to be a joke. But if not, then wowee! Love that word “tolerance”!

    Luis,

    I know you, brother. You would never accept strict moral relativism.

  13. «I know you, brother. You would never accept strict moral relativism.»

    It’s quite sad that you didn’t even bother reading what I wrote.

    I never said I would “accept” moral relativism as an objective. I said I *am* a moral relativist just as I *am* a physics relativist: there is no other way to be, unless we are lying to ourselves: there is no god, there is no absolute “moral” way to live. There is only *our* way to live, and that’s hardly an objective state of affairs.

    I pretty much like my way of life, my values, etc. But I could never make the mistake of thinking they are somehow “objective”, and for all you’ve said so far, you *never* made the compelling case for objective morals, so I take it that you believe it to be so by *faith*… ar ar.

  14. Luis,

    I did read what you wrote. It’s that I don’t think you believe what you wrote. If you think I haven’t proved my point, do make a case for the acceptability of child rape.

  15. Mr Briggs, what you are telling me when you say You would never accept strict moral relativism, is akin to telling me that I would never accept that my ancestors were bacteria.

    It’s a fact, not a “moral value”. There are multiple morals in our world (each with their own, as a matter of fact), and I do not recognize any deity to close off that kind of debate. So we will continue debating in an horizontal level, and no one has a higher level of authority on this matter, at least a priori. Even if one recognizes in another a more respectable opinion, this is also a relativistic take: “more” is not “absolute”. It’s merely a relative position according to your own perspective.

    do make a case for the acceptability of child rape.

    Why should I? I am not in the least interested in child rape, why should I “make a case”, when morals aren’t even derived rationally from facts of the world, but from other morals themselves? Consider that because we mostly share the same values, I will have little moral ground to base any kind of “acceptability” of child rape, specially with you.

    This does not mean that other peoples in other times or places cannot do such a thing. We can see in the bible, for instance, that such behavior was somewhat common, and it was not subject to legal issues. In ancient Greece, peadophilia was common and not a crime.

    I have not to show how these things are moral, I just have to observe that these people didn’t think they were wrong. So you see, you are the one who must show how these people were wrong. Not just “wrong”, based on your morals, but “absolutely” wrong, forever to be condemned for such acts (by whom, btw?).

    You will not be able to do this. Any attempt at doing so will always fail at the same point, commiting the exact same fallacy: the naturalistic fallacy. You cannot derive an ought from an is.

    And btw, this is the main gripe I have with you. Because I am a moral relativist, this means that I can see that what the state of affairs *is*. This has *nothing to do* with the *oughtness* of what I would like the world to be, because this link is fallacious.

    Do you get it now? Independently of we agreeing or not in the Relativeness of morals, you should be aware that there is nothing inconsistent for a relativist to be a huge proponent and defender of human rights. I’d say, even more so, for we tend to acknowledge how fragile our moral view of the world really is, and if we fail in defending it, such a view will disappear. If morals were absolute, you should not worry, they would always be true. But clearly and historically, this is as untrue as it gets.

  16. “Right” / “Right” — this concept has been popping up & few seem to appreciate what this word means (e.g. “human right/s”).

    A “Right” in this context is whatever the state (government) decrees it to be (via whatever legal tools it has).

    Thus, to have a “right” one must be part of a group that concedes the thing given as inviolate. If the group is big, a government of some form is necessary to manage & enforce things. This is accomplished thru formal laws & legal precedents–the concept is to ensure consistency.

    Thus, where a person has a “right” to a “thing” (whatever/however defined) it invariably means that someone/others MUST make concessions, relative to their self-interest/desires, on some occassions to preserve the other person’s “right.”

    That’s where things get dicey — as the preservations of “rights” by/for some means the loss of some degree of freedom by/for others. While this may apply to “all” & seem equitable, in practice it seldom if ever is as some will be exercising, or trying to, a given “right” while others are trying to exercise some other “right” and they get in each other’s way.

    Recently we’ve seen how this has been extended to personal property rights — and almost all observors that have studied it find that the underpinnings of freedom hinge, ultimately, on the preservation of property rights. When a society cannot maintain structures to secure individual property & associated rights, its a very short course to some form of totalitarianism. And these are seldom (and then seldom for long) benevolent in any sense of “benevolent.”

    Thus, key to any debate about “diversity” is an associated recognition of what “rights” are being secured, and at what cost.

    One cost is discrimination (another “right”) — to achieve one outcome some measure of discrimination seems inevitable. The University of Michigan had a recent brouhaha over something like this.

    Now, in the US, for just existing as a citizen, the government can compel a person to engage in commerce (the buying of insurance, or, paying a penalty for not buying insurane–and “penalty” IS the legal standard per the law). That’s state-mandated confiscation of property (money) to enable another person to have a “right” — health care.

    So much for property rights.

    While this may seem a bit off-topic relative to “diversity” it gets to Brigg’s emphasis on providing definitions. The US Constitution is a set of definitions of various rights and limits on the extent to which government (a necessary byproduct of population needed to provide & enforce “rights”).

    Consider the two very different views taken by Federal judges, rejecting key provisions of this confiscatory provision of the new health care law as either unconstitional, or not unconstitutional:

    Judge finds law unconstitional: http://www.heartland.org/custom/semod_policybot/pdf/28972.pdf

    Judge finds law constititional: http://www.mied.uscourts.gov/News/Docs/09714485866.pdf

    The “conservative” or “liberal” leanings of the judges are very apparent. If one is attentive a certain degree of circular reasoning is readily apparent in the “liberal” judge’s rationale. To get a sense of how fluid that is–how such rationalizations, compounded, can aggregate to become virtually anything one desired at the outset read Supreme Court Justice Scalia’s concurring opinion at:

    http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-1521.pdf (MCDONALD ET AL. v. CITY OF CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, ET AL.)

    What becomes clear is this is an example of “moral relativism” — which in practice can be equated to “backing into the answer I want in this instance on this topic at this point in time using whatever rationalizations it takes.” Justice Scalia calls this “judicial whimsy” & highlights the illogic & inconsistencies involved in his concurring opinion–clearly motivated & written specifically to counter the whacky illogic applied by some of his dissenting peers.

    Which is to illustrate that when any seemingly precisely defined law & legal precedents can be twisted to mean whatever someone wants — if that someone is allowed to proceed & succeed at it — then objective law & legal precedent is a fiction. It is readily apparent that many in the US’s judiciary, at the very highest levels, are very capable of such self-deceptions to get what they think is “right” (or should be or is “a right”).

    Of course, this is nothing new in the human condition (which I’ll leave undefined). It’s been observed with the judges who were put on trial (much less publicly attended than their political masters who preceded them at trial) at Nuremburg, as just one recent example (Spencer Tracy did a good performance of this in, “Judgement at Nuremberg”).

  17. Mathematics and statistics discourse please! A philosophical discussion about discrete vs. continuous data would be oddly similar to this thread.

  18. Only quickly back to the computer. Mind some colloquial English? Chickening out, pal. If you can’t define diversity, you cannot adequately criticize my definition. If you say mine is wrong, you have to say where explicitly.

    I don’t mind colloquial phrases in general, but yours is misplaced. It makes no sense for everyone to invent their own definitions, and having attended the University of California, I’m perfectly happy with Berkeley’s definition, “human qualities that are different from our own and those of groups to which we belong; but that are manifested in other individuals and groups. Dimensions of diversity include but are not limited to: age, ethnicity, gender, physical abilities/qualities, race, sexual orientation, educational background, geographic location, income, marital status, military experience, parental status, religious beliefs, work experience, and job classification.”
    Again with the restriction: “(including but not limited to) anything that renders one unqualified or unfit to perform the duties of the position.”

    But, I’ll say again, why the focus on diversity? Seeking diversity is only a tool, an imperfect one to be sure, but it’s an effective way to further the *real* goal, which is equality of opportunity. Nothing you have said invalidates this, and every time I’ve brought it up, you’ve ignored it. Your argument is entirely unconvincing, except to those who already agree with you, and I’m tired of shouting past each other. I’ve said my piece (many times), so I think I’m done.

    Enjoy the rest of your trip.

  19. “Diversity” as a goal in academia and hiring and contracting goals was created out of whole cloth in Justice Stewart’s concurring opinion in the Bakke case, ca. 1978. Alan Bakke, a white male somewhat older than usual, had been denied admission to the UC-Davis medical school in apparent violation of the published admission standards, on which he outperformed numerous minority and younger applicants who were accepted. He sued an won. In his opinion, Justice Stewart mentioned in passing, that UC Davis Med School should have properly applied its admission criteria and admitted Bakke, but it was possible to imagine criteria, such as encouraging a diverse student body, that might pass muster to allow less qualified candidates to move ahead of more qualified ones (by traditional measures).

    The whole range of “diversity” crapola including using that word comes from tat one probably ill-advised offhand remark that for all we know may hev been inserted by one of Stewart’s clerks, as he later said it wasn’t anything he had focused on or thought crucial to teh case.

    Those who wanted to pursue race- and gender-based preferences latched onto that comment and have been running with it ever since. If they couldn’t just prefer one race or gender or other group (sexual orientation, etc. came later) over another, they would say they were pursuing “diversity,” and then define “diversity” to advance their real goals. They never established any actual value to “diversity” tho there were some bogus studies whose result was predetermined, and never were honest about defining the term because that would have made the verbal sleight-of-hand too obvious.

    That’s it, the whole intellectual basis for “diversity” policies.

  20. Kevin,

    So you agree we me after all? “Diversity” does not mean a “state of differences (either maximally or proportionally), dissimilitude, or unlikenesses” but instead means “conformity with my pre-set and unarticulated, but anyway obvious, set of physical and behavioral criteria.”

    What I set out to do, and what you evidently are in consonance with, is to prove that, however many people hold with maximal diversity, that kind of diversity is not possible, or not possible without the absurd qualifications I gave (arbitrary races, quota masters, etc.). Neither is, by any stretch, proportionally or not, behavioral diversity desired. The word has almost no shades of its plain English meaning left. This I proved, and this you evidently agree with. But then you say “why focus on” it? My dear sir, I do so because it is the point I wish to make.

    I note in passing that almost nobody who disagrees with me tries to justify behavioral diversity. What about the question I originally asked with regards to “sexual orientation”? Are you saying that necrophiliacs, pedophiles, rapists, etc. are OK with you? These proclivities would not make one unfit to be a professor of Social “Science”, say (who better to study the range of sexual behavior than one afflicted with these, let us call them, odd tastes?). Nor would it make one unqualified. Seeking diversity in the range of “sexual orientation” I say is dumb, and not only that, the dumbest idea ever. Do you agree? If so, then you agree that the word “diversity” is extraordinarily inapt.

    “Equality of opportunity”, however, is equally absurd. Would you wish equal opportunity for all? Think carefully. But let’s not shoot off this side track here. Perhaps we can discuss that topic in its own forum. I could write, “Equality of opportunity: the second dumbest idea of all time?” What fun we’ll have!

    Update To sum up: words matter, language makes a difference. My entire five-part series was to show one thing (though it incidentally proved other matters): that the widespread use of a certain term was foolish, misleading, and dumb. Perversions of language this large are rarely done through ignorance; this one was not. The term “diversity” is positively Orwellian. It means almost the exact opposite of its plain English sense. I left aside the discussion why this is so, mostly because everybody already knows.

  21. Luis, my old friend, I do get it. But I am not convinced. Even the Greeks did not countenance sexual intercourse with newborns or the dead. They drew a line different than the one we draw today, but they still drew it. The lines shift, but not by much and they always exist. And there always and everywhere, I say, comes a line that shall not be crossed. (Actually, we should not be thinking linearly here: each “line” is part of a mesh, or web, that intersects with many others. The more narrowly we discuss an aspect of behavior, the more difficult our job becomes at defining absolutes. I do not say impossible.)

    I do not argue against Hume and say we can derive an ought from an is. I say that the ultimate matters of morality are built into all of us (I do not here say why: call it evolution if you like). I would also say that were anybody with a different set of morals try to touch your or yours, that you would suddenly be made aware of a host of oughts.

  22. I’ll admit first that I haven’t read every comment here. A series of long posts deserves long comments.

    There are differences between “a diversity plan” and “diversity” to me. Yes, you may blame it on my rigid understanding of English.

    Diversity exists, whether is desirable is up to you. Learning about and from our differences sure has enriched my life. Teaching diversity, part of a diversity plan, to promote the understanding of diversity is a good idea. A multicultural education center, established as part of a diversity plan and responsible for all multicultural events, is a good idea.

    I was sad that “intellectual” became a bad word, please don’t do that to “diversity”.

    Our Office of Institutional Diversity clearly defines what diversity is and also has a diversity plan, you know, the plan that university leftists set up purposely to tick off the right wing nuts. The definition of diversity hasn’t changed, but the diversity plan has every so often in our case.

    There are vaguely stated strategies about enhancing recruitment for diverse student population and increasing efforts in recruiting underrepresented groups in the plan. No specifics. No specific numerical representation for race or gender. Some school may have those goals.

    Mr. Briggs, imo, you’ve concluded a diversity plan (not “diversity”) with certain representation goals or assessment methods is really the dumbest idea. Yes, they might not be well-thought-out measures, dumb? The dumbest? So on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the dumbest, you gave it a “real 10”. There are many worse ideas, what are you going to called them next? They can’t be “the dumbest” now.

    “sexual orientation…. diverse behavior include necrophiliacs and pedophiles?”

    Wouldn’t it be great if we can somehow detect whether an applicant is necrophiliac or pedophile? I sure hope that the decision of whether to employ or admit an “ex-offender” has nothing to do with some goals in a diversity plan. I find this statement insulting because it appears that you are comparing minorities and females to perverts. So I give it a dumbness rating of 8, a solid 8, though it’s not as dumb as the “marry an animal” theory you’ve used again gay marriage.

    It would be helpful to check into how a diversity plan is practiced in reality. Goals are not quite reality, and sometimes they are good for showing, and are possible in theory but far-fetched in reality.

  23. JH,

    Of course you must not leave the hiring of necrophiliacs to chance. You must purposely select for them. A check-box, as already exists for “race” and “gender”, must appear on each application form. It must be mentioned in the diversity plan, as “race” and “gender” are. Positive speeches for it must be given, and an office of “sexual orientation” must be created and funded. Then it will be as the other “diversities” are: positively sought.

    The word is dead. In its place we should use the plain English of what is actually happening: quotas. The university office of Diversity should, in the name of fairness to the language, change its name to Office of Race and Sex Quotas. To which you can add Sexual Practices.

    (And the “gay marriage” argument I gave was excellent. Once again, I forced you to define exactly what you mean by marriage and why. I notice that most people fear doing that. Why?)

  24. I’ll briefly share my experience on hiring and graduate admissions because they appear to be the components of a diversity plan that Mr. Briggs is interested in discussing.

    Faculty Hiring…
    The problem my department has is competing against other universities for better qualified candidates, more often than not, for American white males since they are not many to go around and are becoming underrepresented. In other words, there are plenty opportunities for them if well qualified. Yes, we want better strategies in recruiting this underrepresented group. Is this to meet certain things stated in our diversity plan? No one really cares, but better strategies would fit our needs. The more importance thing is then how to help this person succeed, not how or why this person is hired.

    Graduate admissions…
    We would be soooo grateful if we can succeed in recruiting more American students, minority or not. Yes, the preference is given to them… is this to meet certain goals in the diversity plan? Perhaps. Really, no! The reason is a bit heartbreaking and has nothing to do with the diversity plan.

    We barely get chances to give American ethnic minority applicants preference since there is usually none in our applicant pool. We’d like to. Is it to achieve some goals in the diversity plan? No. We feel it’s the right thing to do. You see what you want to see. No point in trying to convince you otherwise.

    Let’s note that it’s understood that admitting unqualified students, minority or not, is a lose-lose situation. Students waste their time and the university wastes its resource. Hence minimum requirements exist and can’t be compromised. University professors are much less idiotic than right wing nuts set them out to be.

    If your objection to a diversity plan rests on the issue of race and gender representation goals and fear of unfairness, why not also addressing the privileges and legacy admission references given to a group of a much larger size, the one President G. Bush belong to. I understand it’s an intimidating group, not an easy target. Many more souls have suffered due to this practice. Though I think a hard working kid will thrive no matter which university he/she attends.

  25. Briggs,

    The word is dead to you, I agree.

    Show me somehow that you understand your proponent’s opinion! Would you like to ask the question of where your opponents go again?

  26. In its place we should use the plain English of what is actually happening: quotas.

    So diversity is quotas now? Now give me some evidence.

  27. JH,

    My dear, I do understand and have tried to show why my opponents are wrong (really, now, you are close to admitting you haven’t read all). I have also proved that quotas are a necessity if proportional (or maximal) diversity is to be insured. You can do those calculations as well as I can.

    And you have not commented, I notice, on behavioral diversity. I know that you would limit behavioral diversity. Almost everybody would.

    What I see here from my opponents is a tenacious mind set, a determination to keep and use a word that means the opposite of its plain English meaning. Why? My guess, which might be wholly incorrect, is that they are in agreement with the political goals that those who abuse the word espouse. This wrong?

  28. Lara Spenzak wrote:
    Diversity is a basic human right and the people who oppose diversity the most are very Conservative and/or religious.

    I just had to chuckle at this comment. Lara, I’ve met Matt on several occasions and I can promise you that he is neither of those mentioned above! 😀 And if you were to try to categorized Matt … he’s not going to fit in any model. He’s a … anomaly.

  29. My Dear Mr. Briggs,

    I have given you examples of good ideas in a diversity plan that contains many aspects of diversity. If you don’t see any values in diversity or any diversity plans (or both), fine. But sorry, I simply won’t use the word “diversity” the way you do… which is my main point.

    You may use the word anyway you wish, left or right, backward or forward! Well, you understand why clear and concise definitions of terms are essential in math.

    If proportional diversity is to be required? Ah, IF. Yes, if a diversity plan requires specific numerical representations of different groups, then “quotas” on certain aspects of diversity that is. Show me some evidence. Here, something copied from a diversity plan (evidence!)

    Increase and improve efforts to recruit and hire employees from underrepresented
    groups at all levels of the university.
    I1: Document and analyze the entire recruitment and hiring process to identify weaknesses and determine ways of strengthening the process to make it more inclusive of underrepresented groups.
    I2: Incorporate diversity-related requirements into each job description.
    I3: Provide discussion points for search co committees to uncover hidden cultural biases in both the search and hiring process.

    Quotas? It seems to me, to conclude that the above is “quotas”, I’d need to be taller to make a bigger jump to the conclusion.

    I would limit behavioral diversity?! I wish I could. I wish I were Professor X (one of my favorite movie character. I LOVE Captain Picard) . If I could, I would. No, I can’t control people’s behavior. (Yes, I am using the word “diversity” the way I see it).

    So would I limit behavior diversity? Hmm… there is the Office of Gay/Lesbian Programs within the Office of Institutional Diversity… so it’s included in a diversity plan… no quotas though. Criminal behavior? I’ll let the Police Department on campus handle this. Immoral behavior? Should a university or workplace welcome and tolerate immoral behaviors? Let’s use some common sense.

  30. Luis, my old friend, I do get it. But I am not convinced. Even the Greeks did not countenance sexual intercourse with newborns or the dead. They drew a line different than the one we draw today, but they still drew it. The lines shift, but not by much and they always exist.

    Well, may I ask you, dear William, “where exactly” these lines are “drawn”? Who’s counting, who is enumerating the various “morals” that each living being endorsed in their lifes, in their actions? Are you sure you aren’t focusing on the “brighter” spots of mankind and forgetting all the bloodshed you despise? It’s a variant of the sharpshooter fallacy. You state that X is wrong, see that X happened in history (multiple times), and then declare that X was always wrong anyway, it just happened that the dudes at the time didn’t “recognize it” as well as we did, or that dude Z, Y or X “condemned” such actions anyway.

    Are you so sure you aren’t just fooling yourself, thinking that all mankind did and does share with you the same morals that make you look to yourself in the mirror with dignity, joy and confidence?

    Well, that’s a big confidence ;).

    «And there always and everywhere, I say, comes a line that shall not be crossed. (Actually, we should not be thinking linearly here: each “line” is part of a mesh, or web, that intersects with many others. The more narrowly we discuss an aspect of behavior, the more difficult our job becomes at defining absolutes. I do not say impossible.)»

    Actually, when you leave out the linearity of what you say, you do end up speaking in galileic mathematical terminology, usually named “relativity”. Wait, how did that happen? 😉

    Of course you assume that absolutes exist, therefore absolutes exist. Well I can’t debate faith, that’s the limit of any reasoned discussion. Let’s just agree to disagree in this point. However, there’s something ridicule about your wording “a line that shall not be crossed”. Well, what line exactly hasn’t been crossed? Name me something so horribly wrong that was never done. I’d say that if such a thing hasn’t been done already (most probably), it’s because it wasn’t very practical to do at the time.

    «I do not argue against Hume and say we can derive an ought from an is. I say that the ultimate matters of morality are built into all of us (I do not here say why: call it evolution if you like). »

    Again with the religious wording, “ultimate”… well “ultimately” we are all dead ;). I do agree with you here, that the process that “made us” did embeb in all of us some kernel of basic behavior toward others. We can say that these are “common” for mankind. But the fact that this “behavior kernel” exists in *most* humans (your exposition ignores psychopaths quite conveniently), doesn’t make them Good ;). You see, we have all kinds of kernels. For instance, we have a lot of sexual desires too, or brutal warring instincts. Are they also *good* because we are born with them too?

    How to know? You are cherry picking. You disdain your “bad” instincts and pat yourself on the back for the “good” ones, and then declare that you are born with “good stuff” that is the kernel of morality. Yeah, but you just ignore the “bad” stuff too. So, again, how do you pick what’s good and what is bad?

    There is no “objective” answer to that one.

    And even if you were to find only “good kernels” of morality inside yourself, that wouldn’t make them “good” per se, now would it? So you are born in a particular way. How does that make your actions *good* in any way? It doesn’t. You have to figure it out with other people. And such figuring out is always changing, always adapting. It is never “True” in the absolute sense, only true temporarily. Perhaps within 100 years we will abhor carnivores. Such as we do slavery today. Perhaps we will not abhor slavery. Who knows? Only climatologists know what will happen in 2100 ;).

  31. RE Briggs comment (quoted from above): “Update. To sum up: words matter, language makes a difference. My entire five-part series was to show one thing (though it incidentally proved other matters): that the widespread use of a certain term was foolish, misleading, and dumb. Perversions of language this large are rarely done through ignorance; this one was not. The term “diversity” is positively Orwellian.”

    To see an unsettling example of this from the US Supreme court see:

    http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-1521.pdf — Start at page 52 of the *.pdf, which is the beginning of Justice Scalia’s concurring opinion in which he lambasts Justice Kennedy’s rationalizations — which are strikingly comparable to those Briggs addressed here. Justice Scalia’s style is equally or more (my opinion) entertaining relative to Briggs style — and its worth reading just for that!

    That case reviews the constitionality of Chicago’s gun control laws (found to be unconstitutional) in light of the recent Supreme Court Heller decision re the same issue with Wash. D.C. HOWEVER, one does NOT need to appreciate the legal nuances or even the main issue, nor read the main case, to appreciate the maneuvering attempted by Justice Kennedy. The mere fact that his views & legal tactics are so overt, and representative of the views of a sizeable minority of both the population and the Supreme Court Justices bode’s ill for the future.

  32. I note in passing that almost nobody who disagrees with me tries to justify behavioral diversity. What about the question I originally asked with regards to “sexual orientation”? Are you saying that necrophiliacs, pedophiles, rapists, etc. are OK with you? These proclivities would not make one unfit to be a professor of Social “Science”, say (who better to study the range of sexual behavior than one afflicted with these, let us call them, odd tastes?).

    Should those behaviors become known, hiring committees would by required by law to report them. It’s pretty hard to fulfill the duties of a professor from prison.

    “Equality of opportunity”, however, is equally absurd. Would you wish equal opportunity for all?

    Yes. But quality of opportunity does not mean treating everyone the same. It means lowering institutional barriers to give everyone a fair shake. This goal *does not* necessarily usurp other goals – no one is advocating breaking the law (by letting pedophiles be 3rd grade teachers say) for the sake of equal opportunity (or diversity).

    To sum up: words matter, language makes a difference.

    I absolutely agree with this sentiment. But language (especially english) is not rigid, and it is determined (usually unconsciously) by popular opinion. Your definition is only useful if other people share that definition, and it is *you* that has perverted the meaning of diversity to this absolutest extreme.

    I would venture to guess that if you asked 100 people what “having a diverse faculty” meant, not one would consider that it meant including necrophiliacs. That’s not to say you’d get a uniform response, but this doesn’t preclude making it a goal, whatever “it” is.

    Ask 100 people what “pornography” means, and you wouldn’t get a uniform answer. Do you think we shouldn’t have laws about pornography? What about child pornography? Ask 100 people what “freedom” means, and you’ll get 100 different responses. Do you think promoting freedom is a stupid idea?

    Your entire pedantic essay was meant to show that people disagree about the meaning of a term? Well shit, you could have written 2 sentences and saved us all a lot of time.

    <blockquote?My entire five-part series was to show one thing (though it incidentally proved other matters): that the widespread use of a certain term was foolish, misleading, and dumb.

    Why didn’t you pick pornography as your term, or murder? You could have made equally compelling (which is to say, not compelling) points with just about any word. You chose the term diversity because you have a political ideology that is opposed to the notion of giving historically disadvantaged groups a leg-up. Fine, make that argument. Don’t pretend that this word in particular is more amorphous than others and therefore illegitimate.

  33. I absolutely agree with Kevin. The pedantness associated with these little semantical tribbles is not up to your standards, mr Briggs. You mention Orwell, well in 1984 one way to control thought and the people is to simply erase words from the dictionary.

    Which is eerily familiar to what you are trying to do here with “diversity”. To just pretend that this word’s meaning is not absolutely definable (ah! and what is??) therefore is not definable at all does not win you any debate. It just makes people annoyed with you.

    Now consider the possibility that I give you: there are a lot of non-absolutely defined words. That is, consider the possibility that 80% of the words we use are “sloppy”. Nevertheless they are pretty useful. Such as “pretty” and “useful”, for instance. I could use “Evil” and “Good” to be snarky ;). Now consider the chance that a person that wants his own ideology to succeed, only has to make everyone else notice that the words that he doesn’t like are “sloppy”, without mentioning that the words that he likes (like good and evil!!) are sloppy too.

    Does that mean he’s winning the “debate” here? Or just making sloppy rethorical thinking?

  34. Edmund Wilson’s new book, The Social Conquest of the Earth,” http://www.amazon.com/Social-Conquest-Earth-Edward-Wilson/dp/0871404133/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1334355693&sr=1-1 argues that group selection—the competition of one group against others—is the fundamental driving force for the evolution of humanity. It would seem that if the redoubtable Mr. Wilson is on the right track, the so-called “diversity” movement seeks to erase the forces that shaped the path to civilization; i.e., the natural competition between groups we do NOT identify with.

    Well nothing new there. The same bunch seeks to deny progress towardthe greater material well being and health that comes from the harnessing of energy, materials, food production, and even water.

  35. Good book. I am also more a believer in virtues of permanent competition.

    Also, especially for you William, I warmly recommend : http://www.amazon.com/Revolt-Masses-Jos%C3%A9-Ortega-Gasset/dp/0393310957/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1334668496&sr=1-1

    Ortega y Gasset had already the insight almost a century ago that the “mass man” was coming.
    And having been a republican deputy in Spain of the 30ies, caught between the communists/anarchists on one part and nationalist on the other part gives a large experience and authority to write about such issues.
    The “mass man” has many rights but no duties. The “mass man” takes everything for granted even if he contributed little to nothing. And the “mass man” will never acknowledge that other people, more skilled than he is, gifted him for free the progress that he enjoys.

    This book – “The Revolt of masses” is excellent and if you have not read it William, you will see that some of your blog posts have already been anticipated by Ortega y Gasset almost a century ago 🙂

    I have been thinking about him during this discussion about “diversity”. It is typically a topic for “mass men”. It is either trivial (Yes we are divers . So what ?) or it is a rubber concept that one can stretch as one likes to get an advantage for some particular group.

    Indeed there is absolutely no reason that in some arbitrarily chosen subset of a society (McDonald, Administration, Oxford university etc) exists the same proportion of some feature (color, sexual preferences, religion etc) that exists in some larger set (region, country, continent, world).

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