Tuesday, May 03, 2005

As Requested...Discrimination

After reading this post, please leave a comment on what or how you have been discriminated against. Or for that matter, reverse discriminated against. And yes, as always..answer the poll!

When I was asked by May about my views on racial descrimination, I thought sure I can write about that. As I started writing, I tried to determine the basis of discrimination and thought racial discrimination is only a portion of the over all problem. So I decided to write about descrimination as a whole.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines discrimination as: The treatment or consideration based on class or category rather than individual merit; partiality or prejudice. and the World Dictionary lists : unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice. Yes, that is what Discrimination is. Treatment or unfair treatment that is not based on Merit. With this definition, I am sure everyone reading this post has been a victim of descrimination and has infact committed an act of discrimination. There are so many areas of discrimination to consider. Discriminations based on race, religion, gender, age, education, wealth, heritage, intelligence, disabilities, citizenship, criminal record, weight, height, culture, health disparity (AIDS, Leprosy), sexual orientation, political views, and the list goes on. So is it possible to rid our world of all types of discrimination and have a truly tolerant society where all treatment is based on merit? Where all people are treated equally. I guess to answer that we have to look at the psychological basis of discrimination.

There are a number of valid experiment where people unknowingly were separated into different groups and studied. One of the most famous studies was a reaction to the assination of Martin Luther King. In 1968, a third grade teacher Jane Elliot, implemented a study where she separated the student in her class by eye color. She informed the students that brown eyed students were better, cleaner, more civilized. The brown eyed children were allowed privelges and the end result was that the blue eyed children accepted thier lower status, slumping and acting inferior while the brown eyed children carried them selves as if they were "special". Even at this young age, the children knew how to behave when assigned to different social classes. In the mid 70's Tajfel and Turner developed "The Social Identity Theory" to understand the psychological basis of intergroup discrimination. Tajfel et al (1971) attempted to identify the minimal conditions that would lead members of one group to discriminate in favor of the ingroup to which they belonged and against another outgroup. In each of the studies, groups were readily able and willing to conform to the group social structure. So is this genetic or a learned response?

Thorndike's Law of Effect (1898, 1911) represented an initial attempt to explain a fundamental principle of behavior, namely, that an organism's actions within its environment are learned and maintained through the consequences of those actions. So discrimination is learned and then maintained or reinforced in the environment.

Fat Bastard's position

Discrimination is a highly emotive issue, and is clearly damaging for direct victims. It seems to be a human trait to dislike and distrust anyone we perceive as being "different". Every one discriminates, and everyone is discriminated against, at some point in their life. It is not only learned through parents, but through a number of other sources. The schools we go to, churches, political parties, commercials on the TV and radio and friends. We are constantly bombarded from our birth to our deaths.

But is it wrong to discriminate? According to Keyes, "For any society to survive, it must discriminate in favor of behaviors that are morally worthy of choice and against those that are not morally worthy of choice". And according to Murray Rothbard; For a New Liberty "Discrimination," in the sense of choosing favorably or unfavorably in accordance with whatever criteria a person may employ, is an integral part of freedom of choice, and hence of a free society..." This means that not only do we have the freedom to discriminate, but that we should discriminate to remove bad morals or actions from society. Is it descrimination if I forbid my daughter to hand out with a boy is in a known gang or a drug dealer? Yes. Is this considered acceptable discrimination. Yes, by most standards, by my daughter's it will probably be persecution and guilt by association. Oh, am I preparing for the future? This leads to my point.

Though we are taught from birth to discriminate, we have a choice of what we will discriminate against. We have freedom of choice. We do not need to listen to those commercials that tell us fat is bad, that people with acne are not pretty enough. Your clothes arent right, you are too short, too tall, get a tan, buy whitening cream, this hair color is better, your nose is too flat, breast are too small...on and on. Even when we learn from family that certain races or colors or religions are bad, we have the ability to choose for ourselves. Who of us can rise above what we are taught in our environment?

I fear that even in the future, 500 to a 1000 yearsfrom now, when all races are successful at integration and the color of skin is a nice beautiful golden hue. We as a society will still discriminate against eye colors, variations of physical build, and of course, always wealth. Once in awhile there will be a genetic anomaly where a baby is pure black or pure white and they will be treated better as they will be more "pure".

We will never eradicate discrimination, but we can reduce certain kinds of it. It is wrong to treat people as inferior or hurt them because of their genetic differences. We must remember though, to take care that in our drive to reduce or erase discriminations that we find repulsive . Take care that we ourselves do not discriminate against the discriminators... and become that which we hate.

"It is a sad day when we must put someone down, inorder to feel good about ourselves" The Doctor, 1998

  • Stop-discrimination is the site for the european union to help with the countries comming together.
  • March 21st is International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination