An Uncomfortable Truth and Claims of Discrimination

Apr 25, 2009 by

firefighters In two recent cases, one in New Haven Connecticut and the other in Portsmouth Virginia, standardized written exams for firefighters have been labeled discriminatory and the results discarded. These cases are only two in a long list of similar cases which have been seen in recent years.

In Portsmouth the city settled a racial discrimination lawsuit that contended that the exam used to hire entry-level firefighters rejected a disproportionate number of African American candidates. In New Haven a reverse discrimination claim will be considered by the Supreme Court. A group of white firefighters all passed a promotion exam, but the city threw out the exam results because no blacks would have been promoted.

At the heart of the matter in both cases are written exams that have been labeled discriminatory by either the Justice Department or the black and Hispanic candidates taking the tests. In Portsmouth white applicants passed at a rate of 85.9 percent, while the rate for African American applicants was 42.4 percent. As part of a settlement the city will no longer administer the written entrance exam the Justice Department found discriminatory. Additionally the city agreed to put $145,000 into a settlement fund to award back pay to African Americans affected by the city’s use of the exams. Those applicants may also receive priority in future hiring.

In New Haven the exam in question was designed by a professional testing firm that followed federal guidelines for mitigating disparate racial outcomes. But after the exam results came back the city found evidence that the exams were “potentially” flawed. Sources of bias included that the written section measured memorization rather than actual skills needed for the job and gave too much weight to the written section; and the lack of testing for leadership in emergency conditions.

Let me see if I get this right. First too much emphasis was placed on memorization rather than actual skills. Does that mean that blacks are known to not be able to memorize as well as other races and this fact was used to design a test that was deliberately discriminatory? And how can you possibly claim discrimination for something that was not even tested for, like the leadership skills mentioned? Is it a known fact that blacks have better leadership skills than other races and therefore not testing for that was discriminatory? Both of those accusations are patently absurd.

Tinney, a black Lieutenant of the New Haven fire department is quoted as saying.

I’m sure there are numerous reasons why blacks didn’t do as well, and not because we’re not as intelligent. These folks are saying we studied the hardest, we passed the test, we should be promoted. But they’re not talking about all the other things.

What other things Lt. Tinney? Please spell them out in detail. Obviously the tests were not biased. It can only be because the ones who passed did study harder and do deserve to be promoted. Why should black firefighters who did not pass the exam be promoted and the white firefighters who did pass the exam not be promoted? As I said, these tests were written using federal guidelines that were supposed to eliminate any disparity in results between races.

In the Portsmouth lawsuit, the Justice Department determined that Chesapeake and Virginia Beach discriminated against black and Hispanic applicants on the math portion of their entrance exams. How in the world can anyone design a math exam that specifically discriminates again two other races? Another absurd accusation by the Justice Department.

Beneath the specific details of the firefighters’ lawsuits lies an uncomfortable truth: On most standardized tests, regardless of the subject, blacks score lower than whites. In the New Haven exam, the first part had 200 multiple-choice questions counted for 60 percent of the final score. Candidates returned another day to take an oral exam in which they described responses to various scenarios. If any discrimination was manifest in the exams, you would think it would have been in the oral exam, subject to interpretation. Yet the complaint was against the written part of the exam and the fact that it accounted for more than 50 percent of the final score.

The white firefighters’ attorney, Karen Torre, said.

All were afforded the same notice, the same study period, the same exam syllabi, etc. The rest was up to the individual.

And there lies the crux of the matter. Overlooked in all the hoopla was the fact that some black and Hispanic candidates and applicants did quite well. It was just that the majority of them did not do as well. I agree that the problem is not a matter of intelligence on the part of blacks, but I also disagree that the problem is that the exams are discriminatory. There may well be other mitigating circumstances that explain the differences between the scores of whites, blacks, and Hispanics. But deliberately discriminatory exams is not one of them. If someone can show me concrete proof that the tests were discriminatory in some way, other than vague accusations, I would love to see the proof. Until then I can only say that cases like these do more harm than good. Hiring and promotion can only be done fairly by testing. And if the results aren’t to the liking of some, they need to look at themselves and wonder what they could have done differently to improve their scores.

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Christianity once again under attack on college campus.

Apr 13, 2009 by

prayerTwo students were threatened with suspension at the College of Alameda after one of them prayed with an ailing teacher in a faculty office. The students, Kandy Kyriacou and Ojoma Omaga said college officials threatened to suspend them for “disruptive behavior”, holding disciplinary hearings and sending them letters warning that they would be punished if they prayed in the teacher’s office again.

The women sued, citing the violation of their freedom of speech, and a federal judge ruled that the two can go ahead and sue the college,  saying a college student has the right to pray in private outside a classroom.

While studying fashion design and merchandising at the two year college the two students took breaks from class to pray with each other and other students on a balcony. On two occasions the students prayed with teacher Sharon Bell at an office Bell shared with other teachers. The second time another teacher entered the office and told Kyriacou, “You can’t be doing that in here,” and the student stopped praying and left.

Ten days later Kyriacou and Omaga received suspension notices, being accused of praying disruptively in class, although the two never prayed in class or during class. In seeking dismissal of the suit, lawyers for the Peralta Community College District argued that the school was entitled to designate faculty offices as “places for teaching and learning and working,” and not for “protests, demonstrations, prayer or other activities” that would be disruptive.

The students countered that they were being punished for the content of their speech, not its disruptiveness. I do not see how you can lump prayer with demonstrations and protests. How is praying in a private office disruptive? Disruptive to who? The teacher who was praying did not complain and there were no other students in the office.

This is clearly a case of discrimination against Christians on campus. I will bet that Muslims are allowed to pray on campus where ever and whenever they want. Yet when two Christians get together to pray in a private office it is deemed “disruptive” by college officials. A two-faced spokesman for the college said its leaders “respect freedom of speech and the First Amendment.” But that respect obviously does not include Christians at the College of Alameda. I don’t think that one teacher bowing her head in prayer is an endorsement for a particular religion.

As Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute said,

It is alarming that a publicly funded college would seek to suspend and expel students for praying on campus, then dig in its heels to defend an untenable, unconstitutional position.

Amen to that.

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British Multicultural society does not include Christians.

Feb 27, 2009 by

taxi Under the guise of moving towards a secular state and a multicultural society, the Christian faith has come under increasing attack in Britain. Ordinary Christians are being discriminated against in the workplace and in public. Examples include a nurse who was suspended for offering to pray for a patient, a teen who was prohibited from wearing a chastity ring in school, a British Airways employee who was prohibited from wearing a cross and a university Christian group that was banned for requiring that members attest to their belief in God. Even former Prime Minister Tony Blair recently let slip that aides warned him to suppress any instinct to bring his faith into public view.

Christians are complaining that instead of a swing towards a secular and multicultural society other faiths are being treated more favorably, primarily Muslims. Some Christians have complained that it is a case of political correctness gone mad. While Muslims can wear a hijab, Christians cannot wear a cross. When Muslims are allowed to pray five times a day in the workplace, Christians cannot even have a simple cross in their prayer rooms. While foot baths for Muslims are being installed in public places, the government voices it’s concerns that the public domain should remain neutral. With Muslim taxi drivers being allowed to refuse fares with alcohol or seeing eye dogs and Muslim store clerks refusing to ring up pork and alcohol sales the government talks of multiculturalism and a secular state. I might add that must the same is taking place in the United States. It is not solely a problem in Britain.

If Britain truly wants a secular state, that is not achieved by bending over backwards for every Muslim demand while at the same time denying Christians the simple right to wear an expression of their faith in the workplace. Simon Barrow, co-director of the theological think tank Ekklesia said that Christians should also be mindful of how they would feel if roles were reversed. He asks, “How would a Christian feel if, for example, a nurse offered them an Islamic prayer?” As a Christian I can answer that by saying that I would be profoundly grateful to anyone who would offer me a prayer, whether it was Islamic or any other religion that believed in God.

I have nothing against Muslims being afforded rights in both the public and private sectors based on their religious beliefs.  But Christians and other religious groups should be afforded those same rights. I do not favor a secular society. Religion has much to offer and should not be shunned and frowned upon. People should not have to hide their religion in fear of offending someone.   Barrow goes on to state that, “People are nervous about overenthusiastic public expression of belief of any kind. There is a great desire for people not to tread on one another’s toes.” If desiring not to tread on one another’s toes results in suppression of peoples rights to express their religion, then I say it is not worth it. What ever happened to “live and let live?” I guess that has been replaced by “political correctness.”

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Having a child with autism does not allow you to abridge the rights of others.

Jul 17, 2008 by

There have been a spate of stories in the news recently in which autistic children and their parents have supposedly been discriminated against due to the child’s autism. Let me say right now that I have a seventeen year old autistic child so I am as much an expert on autism as any other parent with an autistic child. In one incident a church had to get a restraining order against a mother whose child was extremely disruptive in church. In the second incident a mother and her autistic child were asked to leave an airliner due to the child’s disruptive behavior. In the most recent incident a mother and her autistic child were asked to leave a diner due to the child’s disruptive behavior. In all the incidents the parents seemed to think that their rights were being infringed upon when they were asked to leave. In the most recent incident the reporters were very sympathetic and asked the mother if it was just a lack of tact or simply discrimination again autism. This question was asked by the reporters without even knowing if the person who asked the parent and child to leave knew that the child had autism.

I feel that if a child is being disruptive and infringing on the rights of others to enjoy whatever it is that they are doing, it is not discriminating against a child with autism to ask the parent and child to leave if they cannot control the behavior of the child. It is accepted social practice, or at least it should be, to remove a disruptive child from a social event if they continue to be disruptive. If a child is crying in a theater or a church it should make no difference if the child is autistic or not. Just because a child is autistic does not give the child special license to be disruptive in public. I know it is often difficult to control the behavior of an autistic child but when the child’s behavior is disruptive the child should be removed from the scene until the child’s behavior is acceptable. People should no more have to tolerate the disruptive behavior of an autistic child than the disruptive behavior of a child having a temper tantrum.

My autistic son has vocal mannerisms and physical movements that could possibly be disruptive in a setting like a church or a restaurant. Usually this is not a problem but in the rare instances when it was, especially when he was younger, I did not take offense when someone complained that it was disturbing them. I would either try to calm him down or failing that I would leave. I would do the same thing with my daughter, who is not autistic, if someone had a legitimate complaint about her behavior. Having an autistic child is a very challenging thing and it requires much more of the parent. And one of those things is to know when your child’s behavior is being disruptive to others and dealing with it in a gracious and courteous manner.

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French government convicts Bardot of promoting racial hatred for speaking the truth.

Jun 4, 2008 by

brigitte-bardotFor the fifth time former French film star Brigitte Bardot has been convicted of provoking discrimination and racial hatred for writing a letter to then Interior Minister and now President Nicolas Sarkozy. Bardot claimed in the letter that France was “tired of being led by the nose by this population (muslims) that is destroying our country by imposing its acts.” One of the acts that Bardot was referring to is the Muslim festival, Eid al-Adha, which is celebrated by slaughtering sheep. Apparently freedom of speech has been dead in France for some time. I don’t see how anything Bardot said could possibly be interpreted as provoking discrimination and racial hatred. She was complaining about abuse of animals that violate French laws. In fact the behavior of a large percentage of Muslim immigrants in France does in fact threaten France. The months of rioting and the insuing destruction of whole neighborhoods has led to sections of France actually becoming ‘no-go’ zones for anyone who is not a Muslim. In essence Muslim immigrants have actually occupied by force parts of France, violating many French laws. I wonder how many of these immigrants have been convicted in French courts for provoking discrimination and racial hatred? I don’t remember Bardot burning cars and buildings, assaulting French police, and screaming death to infidels. Laws such as these make it difficult if not impossible for French citizens to speak out against real threats and actions by immigrants whose goal is to force changes to French law and customs by use of force and intimidation, not to mention religious and racial hatred. More French citizens need to find the courage and convictions of Brigitte Bardot and speak out against such behaviour and actions.

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