Friday, May 1, 2009

Oxymoron of the Day: Positive Discrimination

Let me talk about myself for a second or two before I get going.

Cynic: A person who believes that only selfishness motivates human actions and who disbelieves in or minimizes selfless acts or disinterested points of view.
Cynical: A word used to describe the above person.

Now there are a lot of folks who label me a 'Cynic' and call me 'Cynical' and I am ok with it. Even I think I am one and so it doesn't put me into one of my 'I-have-to-try-and-prove-them-wrong' mindsets because doing that would essentially mean that I would be proving my-self wrong as well and that can't be because I have a t-shirt which says "ARGUE if you must but remember that I am RIGHT". So, yes, those who label me a 'Cynic' and call me 'Cynical' are right to do so.

With that out of my system, for now, let me come to the point. This article in the Telegraph. For those of you who have clicked and read through that article before continuing here, you can skip the next couple of lines unless you want to go through that mindless stuff again. For those of you who are reading this line without having clicked on that link, here is the beginning of what that article says:

"New laws planned by Harriet Harman, the equalities minister, mean that firms tendering for taxpayer-funded work could be judged on new criteria including the gender and race of their staff. "

I read this and was amazed that
1. There is something called an Equalities Minister
2. Which means there is an Equalities Ministry being headed by said Minister
3. And they can come-up with something so discriminatory in the name of Equality!

If that statement had read "Company XYZ Inc has declared that firms tendering for work could be judged on new criteria including the gender and race of their staff" it would have been immediately called discriminatory and the dreaded 'D' word would have hung around the company as a pall of death. But no. This is the government, via its 'Equalities' minister, discriminating and hiding it under the guise of law and equality. If someone hasn't got it still, because of a skull that is too thick or too empty or both, this is how Discrimination is defined: "Treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit". Which translates to "Making a decision based on a lot of other stuff that doesn't answer to the name 'Merit' ". And they call this Equality!

One more excerpt from that article:

"Miss Harman insisted, "We don't see this as anti-competitiveness - it actually underpins competitiveness. Equality and opportunity underpins a meritocracy. This does not hold business back, this helps business."

Consider, for example, that I am a company which has a team of 3 guys and one girl, all hired based on interviews and their performance records. From what I understand after reading the article, I need to ditch one guy and go looking for another girl to be in my team for me to stand a chance of landing the contract. I can now go into related headaches I might have to face if I start something like that but I guess you get the point. And assuming I do go through the pains of finding and recruiting, on time, another female team-member who is qualified, I might still not win because the competitor already has an all-girl team. And Ms. Harman believes this underpins competitiveness! Nice, in a very nonsensical, Ministry-of-Equalities kind of way.

I can imagine how this can mutate and grow going forward. These could be realistic headlines and news stories we might come across in the future:

"The Department of Health has proposed new guidelines for all registered doctors which would require them to attend to a minimum of 5 patients who are not white and male before attending to a white, male patient. Male Doctors who do not follow these guidelines run the risk of being de-registered and imprisoned for discrimination"

"Plastic Surgeons beat the Recession
The Association Of Plastic Surgeons has reported a whopping growth in their general earnings and also a steep rise in the number of their actively practicing members. The chairman of the association attributed this raise solely to the government and its initiatives. "There has been a sudden spurt in the number of people, mostly white male, who come to us and ask to be turned into non-white males or sometime females. The most popular option for the white guy who walks into our clinic is to go out looking like an Asian. The lean, athletic types go for Heidi Klum. They say it improves their job opportunities and their social life. We have to thank the government, especially the Ministry of Equalities, for this turn around in our fortunes"

"Government Ensures Equality in the Family
A newly proposed law, currently under discussion, aims at inculcating the spirit of Equality into kids right from their birth by requiring families to have Identical, Different-sex Twins. The minister, speaking to the media, said that, "Our kids are our future and this will make sure our future has all the opportunity it needs to grow in an equal environment"

Hopefully these things won't come to pass and someone manages to knock some sense into moronic politicians who come up with oxymorons like "positive discrimination".

Disclaimer: I am not British, I don't live in England and there is no Equalities Ministry where I live. So why am I complaining? Because of the realization that politicians are the same in what they do irrespective of where they are from. We might not have an 'Equalities' ministry but we do have equally euphemistically-named ministries trying to do the same.

7 comments:

ununseptium said...

egads. In the perfect world, people get jobs because they're awesome at what they do, and for no other reason but that.

me said...

Unfortunately for us, we do not live in a "Perfect World". :)

Btw, is that phrase also an oxymoron?

Keahi Ajani said...

Though this is a month behind I do want to point out that the word and defintitions that are being used and linked to actions and people are simply abstract concepts that we all use to create meaning. If we reconstructed our concepts and belief in this reality within what we deam and recognize within our concepts of space and time your article would shift accordingly.

me said...

@Keahi: I do agree that my article might change based on a change in how we understand and apply definitions of abstract concepts. But I guess you will note that my article is based on how we currently process these abstract concepts. Would I even have come out with this article if, like you suggest, these concepts meant something different?

SY said...

lol.. positive discrimination. Discrimination of all kinds are just plain negative.. got your point

Gyanban said...

Cynicism is the power of accurate observation.

Eirven said...

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