I missed it too, and it is a good post.
But, Red, I think your Socratic-style plays into that; and, in this thread certainly, helps shape the staccato nature of the discussion.
You ask questions about seemingly extraneous things that, if you follow the logic back, it eventually may refute the poster's opinion. But then we all wind up stalled on the road to that refutation somewhere. It's almost like you work backwards or leave so much of a gap in the questions that we wind up debating the relevance of your point rather than the point itself. I know you don't like to do this (because asking questions makes trapping someone in your rhetorical net so much easier!), but you may just want to start laying out the logic chain a little more clearly.
Also, as much fun as it is to deflate people who strike you as arrogant and/or ignorant (and I've been known to do it too), you reached a level of bitchiness in this thread that totally undermined the attempt at (yet another pointless) discussion of AA.
And while we're wrapped up in our arguments about arguing, interesting posts get lost.
I'm aware of the danger of the kinds of things that you point out in this post. But I'm also aware that there are several rhetorical strategies and points that come up again and again that are quite fallacious and unfounded.
Here are some:Socio-economic AA instead o race-based AA
. I ask, why? Why instead
? Why can't we acknowledge that just as poverty, class and yes, caste, have some role in limiting one's GPA and LSAT, so too does race, independent of income and parental profession?Color-blind admissions for equal opportunity, aka "racial preferences"
. This strikes me as jumping ahead in the argument. If the playing field isn't even in the first place -- if race and the burden of racism is indeed a factor in creating an uneven playing field, then correcting for that strikes me as closer to the equal opportunity objecive than does ignoring it."Just by ticking a box".
This strikes me as a facile attempt to reduce the experience of race in this country to nothing at all. Further, URMs aren't the only ones that 'just tick a box': in-staters do, too; legacies do, too.Strict scrutiny etc for public institutions like UM and UT
. This strikes me as disingenuous unless people are aguing that it's okay for private institutions, like Chicago, Yale and Harvard to have AA but not okay for UM and UNC. Clearly, and take a tour of LSN comment pages if you don't believe me, people aren't saying that at all -- they object to AA even at private institutions, ones that are under competitive pressure from other peer schools.Merit.
This is surely the most disingenuous argument of them all. Yes, a 120 and a 180 are differently prepared for law school. But what about a 173 and a 169? What about a 166 and a 161? The score band, at the very low 68% confidence interval is 7 points wide; at the more usual 95% confidence interval, it's 11 points wide. In that context, even assuming that the LSAT could predict what it is valuable to know, the differences between the median LSAT of admitted URMs and the median LSAT of the class does not suggest that the URMS are 'unprepared'. When compared to the lower tenth decile of admitted white students, the difference is one and sometimes 2 LSAT points. What's that, in terms of preparedness for law school? Nothing at all.AA hurts URMs
. Silly. Especially when it is deployed in the context of an argument about AA at T1 schools. The most important indicator of future career success is the law school that you attended. Period. Not LSAT (which has no relationship at all to any career indicators), not UGPA, not ECs or personal statements. You know what hurts URMs? Atending a school with a low barpassage rate, attending a school with poor placement records etc. But that also hurts whites. In absolute terms it hurts more whites than blacks or hispanics or both combined.AA causes whites to be mean to URMs.
Hmm. Guess what? Same story when women were first admitted to UGs and law schools and offices in the grandmother AA program. Men kicked up a fuss then. They really did. they reached for their biology textbooks to show why it couldn't work. Who cares now? Who thinks that women were hurt by it now? Would I have been able to apply and attend law school without that AA program generations ago? Same story with Jews (stndardized tests were first used in college admissions in order to keep Jews out of Harvard and Princeton. It didn't work). Same story with Asians.AA causes qualified white candidates to be turned away
. Well, actually, limited class size is what causes academically qualified white and Asian students to be turned away. And I don't mean that facetiously. The lower two deciles of admitted white and Asian students have lower GPA/LSAT numbers than lots of white applicants who were rejected. Focusing on the relatively small number of blacks and hispanics as the cause seems like quite a distortion to me.
There are other arguments, but you get the point. These kinds of arguments are not good ones: they don't stand up to the slightest bit of scrutiny. When contrasted with what these same people put up as justifications for socio-economic AA or whatever.
oh, and a couple moreThe inner city schools argument
. This one is frankly confusing to me. We are talking about the fact that there's something awry in the playing field facing URM applicants to law schools. We are talking about people who are on the cusp of receiving, or have already received, their BA degrees. We are mostly talking about URM candidates who have attended UGs like Harvard, Howard, Stanford, Chicago, Brown, Penn State, Wellesley, etc. And YET, people bring up the pipeline problem -- 'inner city schools', "black leaders", 'single mothers', and all the rest of that jazz. And I ask, what is the relevance to this discussion? Of COURSE those things should also improve. But this is about the people who have either overcome that or who have not experienced it: they've got BAs and GPAs like everyone else. They're being shut out not because of what Al Sharpton hasn't done, but because of what the ABA, HLS and Fordham haven't done -- i.e. used the LSAT properly -- as one guide but no the ONLY guide; with appropriate deference for score bands, not by using a magical cutoff score; but respecting the fact that it only accounts for 21% of the variation in performance within a particular law school, and that it has no utility in predicting future career success.It's illegal or unconstitutional
. haha. I love this one. As if what courts rule on this topic affects whehether they agree with it or not. Who changed their minds after Grutter? Who has changed their mind after this Michigan referendum?
etc. There are some others.
So, you know, I see this arguments posted on this board, smeared on LSN comment pages, etc. and
I see three or four things that may hold them together for any one person who proposes combinations of them.
1. They really have no idea of how the admissions process works, what the data is, etc; or
2. They are being just selfish (and anxious) about their own opportunities and will support whatever will (or would have) helped them to the exclusion of anyone else
3. They really do believe that black and hispanic people are inherently incapable (the IQ argument) or inherently lazy (the culture argument); or
4. They just plain old don't like people who are black or hispanic or whatever, and blaming them is the first thing that they reach for when things don't go their way -- round up the usual suspects, etc.
So, given these options, I ask questions. I ask pointedly in order to prompt people into giving their best response. You know why? Because when they post anti-AA comments, or when they post a comment maligning someone's admission to a particular school as having been "because of AA", they're thinking that it's inexpensive -- a cheap shot that they can get away with because being anti-AA is cool, or because no-one will likely have the energy to have them back up their post.
And you know what? Most people will argue inconsistent positions all the way around
this topic as long as the conclusion stays the same: No AA for URMs. No matter what. Even if they have to resort to the IQ argument. Even if they have to reach for the crack babies argument. Even if they can clearly see that their arguments for in-state or socio-econ or whatever are logically inconsistent
with their arguments against AA by race/ethnicity.
That is disturbing. It is disturbing to read, and I'm hoping that it is also disturbing to write and post.
Btw. I am not claiming that one has to be deluded ot racist to argue against AA. I'm arguing that patterns of inconsistency of arguments; juxtapositions of paradoxical positions; and the kinds of symbols, language, stories that are used to argue against AA are the telling things, not the opposition to AA per se.
Oh yeah. So, if I ask the questions that I do and approach the thread in the way that I do, it is so that these kinds of patterns and strategies will emerge. Frankly, I think it's the only thing that could ever come of a discussion about AA, because it is actually quite complex (too technical) as a subject-matter for serious discussion on a board.