Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Distortion in Service of Progressivism Is No Vice

 

640px-Antonin_Scalia_2010It’s as fascinating as it is frustrating to watch the media spin a story to suit its preferred narrative. For this week’s example, look no further than the controversy surrounding oral arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas, the latest affirmative action case to reach the Supreme Court of the United States.

An MSNBC reporter named Irin Carmon — who also co-authored a laudatory biography of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg entitled The Notorious RBG — seized on a question raised by Justice Antonin Scalia during oral arguments. The question dealt with the assertion (raised by one of the briefs) that promising students from poor or minority schools would generally be better served by attending good-but-non-prestigious colleges than elite schools through affirmative action. In other words, these students face a more daunting adjustment than either they or the colleges realize, which unnecessarily dooms them to failure at prestigious schools when they would likely have prospered at other schools. There has been legitimate research into this idea that dates back over a decade.

That context was absent from a tweet Carmon sent out, and the response via social media has been sadly predictable:

You know the drill by now. Scalia’s a racist. Scalia should be impeached. Scalia kicks puppies in his spare time.

As you also might have guessed, many left-leaning outlets then ran with the story. Within a few hours of Carmon’s tweet, journalists — either out of ignorance or disingenuousness — had pounced:

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 5.39.28 PM

These are simply lies. But lies are acceptable when they further the correct worldview.

I have no idea whether the theory presented in the brief is entirely sound, and I don’t know enough about this particular case to know if it’s legally significant either way. What I do know is that it is wholly unremarkable — indeed, wholly proper — for a justice to ask about arguments presented in briefs at oral argument if he deems them potentially relevant. It’s also worth noting that a justice asking such a question doesn’t even necessarily agree with the premise.

But none of that matters. Here was a chance to (again) paint a brilliant legal mind as a backwards bigot by presenting a question he asked as a position he maintained, and doing so without the context of the research behind it.

If — or, more likely, when — this story filters through a television newscast, only a crumbling, unrecognizable husk of the truth will remain, further diminishing the general public’s understanding of how the Court should work and does work. For many in the media, the chance to stick it to one of the “bad people” and to portray one side as obviously racist is more important than silly, outdated concepts like nuanced discussion or basic fairness.

If there’s a silver lining: Scalia cares not a whit.

Image Credit: “Antonin Scalia 2010” by Stephen Masker. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.

There are 23 comments.

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  1. Bob Thompson Member

    The Left is engaged in techniques that they could have learned from Islam. Deception and distortion in service to the cause is perfect.

    • #1
    • December 9, 2015, at 7:42 PM PST
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  2. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    It’s hard to be outraged when something is so predictable, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be outraged.

    • #2
    • December 10, 2015, at 7:59 AM PST
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  3. iWe Reagan
    iWe Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Meh. The research is pretty clear on this, and it worth trying to get people to wrap their heads around the notion that you don’t stick someone in an environment that they are not prepared for. Because if and when you do that, you are likely to end up with a disaster like Obama.

    • #3
    • December 10, 2015, at 8:36 AM PST
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  4. Jordan Inactive

    No wonder they don’t allow cameras in the courtroom.

    It would just be nothing but this around SCOTUS season. It’s already bad enough we get to have to wait to hear what 4.5 unelected somewhat-conservatives and 4.5 unelected progressive think.

    • #4
    • December 10, 2015, at 8:48 AM PST
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  5. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    If you put people in situations they are not qualified for, they might not do well. That is not racist, that is the whole reason that they have an application process in the first place.

    • #5
    • December 10, 2015, at 8:54 AM PST
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  6. Tom Garrett Member
    Tom Garrett

    iWe:Meh. The research is pretty clear on this, and it worth trying to get people to wrap their heads around the notion that you don’t stick someone in an environment that they are not prepared for. Because if and when you do that, you are likely to end up with a disaster like Obama.

    The analogy I used with someone this morning: A person could have the potential to be a great hitter in baseball. Natural hand-eye coordination, good work ethic, etc. But, if they’ve never faced great pitching, and you throw them up against someone throwing 95 MPH, they will struggle initially.

    However, if you put them in a batting cage and get them used to 80, then 85, then 90, they’ll have a much better shot to succeed. This is not in any way a commentary on their natural abilities – but that gets lost when we transplant the conversation to education / intelligence / success in college.

    • #6
    • December 10, 2015, at 9:08 AM PST
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  7. EDISONPARKS Member
    EDISONPARKS Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The Left purposely overlooks that these “less advanced” schools Scalia is talking about will have the same racial distribution of students as the “elite” schools. Which is to say mostly white.

    Put another way, if the whites at the “less advanced” schools attended the “elite” schools, the white (ie: any color for that matter) students would be at the same disadvantage

    • #7
    • December 10, 2015, at 9:11 AM PST
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  8. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Scalia’s reference is to the mismatch theory, which you can read about in Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help and Why Universities Won’t Admit it by Stuart Taylor and Richard Sander who are not conservatives. Their research was motivated because they would like to see more minority students succeed in college while affirmative action ends up placing some of them in situations where they are more likely to fail.

    Where’s what Clarence Page said about the book:

    “As a high-profile defender of affirmative action, I used to think the so-called ‘mismatch’ problem was a bit overblown. Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor have caused me to think again. How many bright and promising minority students, we must ask, have failed because they were steered—with the best intentions, of course — into elite schools for which they were less prepared academically than most of their classmates? What better ways can we devise to boost academic achievement and expand the pool of qualified students of all races? We don’t do future generations of students any favors by trying to ignore this issue or pretend it doesn’t exist. If common-sense moderates don’t step up and engage this debate, we only allow extremists to take control of it.”

    • #8
    • December 10, 2015, at 9:28 AM PST
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  9. Bob Thompson Member

    Vance Richards:If you put people in situations they are not qualified for, they might not do well. That is not racist, that is the whole reason that they have an application process in the first place.

    Yeah, would we be bigoted or racist for not putting all those unqualified people on the court?

    • #9
    • December 10, 2015, at 9:30 AM PST
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  10. zepplinmike Inactive

    Vance Richards:If you put people in situations they are not qualified for, they might not do well. That is not racist, that is the whole reason that they have an application process in the first place.

    Exactly. Who even needs research to figure this out? It’s common sense.

    • #10
    • December 10, 2015, at 9:44 AM PST
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  11. Fritz Member

    Justice Scalia has more intellectual heft in his pinky finger than in all the cranial compartments in the entire workforce of MSNBC and NBC combined.

    • #11
    • December 10, 2015, at 9:57 AM PST
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  12. Lazy_Millennial Member

    Whenever the Republican primary ends, I think the single best argument you can give someone when they ask “Why should I support the nominee? I wanted someone else!” is this:

    Antonin Scalia is 79. No one will be able to replace him, but we NEED a Republican to pick who does, not a Democrat.

    • #12
    • December 10, 2015, at 11:30 AM PST
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  13. Umbra Fractus Coolidge
    Umbra Fractus Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    As far as I know the mismatch theory is all but proven. When California (!) outlawed affirmative action, the black graduation rate went up.

    • #13
    • December 10, 2015, at 12:05 PM PST
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  14. Mr. Newit Member

    Put another way, if the whites at the “less advanced” schools attended the “elite” schools, the white (ie: any color for that matter) students would be at the same disadvantage

    Hi, I am this person. I somehow was admitted into a prestigious science school. I went from being fairly swift amongst my high-school cohort to being the dumbest person in every room. It was stunning. What others could grasp in seconds took me hours of study and begging my friends to explain the most basic of concepts.

    Luckily I switched schools to a “less prestigious one” (although the school might argue that), changed my major* and actually started learning.

    Whenever I read about college affirmative action that experience is what I see. You cannot make someone smarter by making them share a room with smarter people; you can make them fail though. I know this first hand and the dismal affirmative action graduation rates bear this out.

    What’s that old science fiction line? Something like ‘Any technology significantly advanced from your own will appear as magic.’ Yeah, that also works with differential equations and a room full of people significantly smarter than you.

    *I grew up working in a family business. I’ve been dealing with mechanical systems for as long as I can remember. I think it says a lot about how boring I am in that my big rebellion was trying to be a chemist instead of an engineer.

    • #14
    • December 10, 2015, at 12:20 PM PST
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  15. Tom Garrett Member
    Tom Garrett

    Another point: Here’s HuffPo, applauding the “#StayMadAbby” hashtag.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/staymadabby-black-students-scalia_5668b676e4b0f290e521f255?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000047

    Can anyone think of any other scenario where a media outlet would condone the mockery of a young, female plaintiff before the Supreme Court?

    How about a different question: If a conservative said anything negative about a similar plaintiff who was on the legal side that HuffPo likes, would that be called out? Would that be deemed “unacceptable” by grandstanding MSNBC and CNN commentators?

    Of course. Because they’re hypocrites. And the rules change the second that someone has “bad” views.

    • #15
    • December 10, 2015, at 12:40 PM PST
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  16. Eugene Kriegsmann Member

    It isn’t just the colleges that do this. Secondary schools have been placing unqualified minority students into advanced placement classes as well. There ends up being one of two possible outcomes, the misplaced student fails or the quality of the material being taught and the speed at which it is taught is sacrificed in order to keep the unqualified student from flunking out.

    I ask you, which option do you think schools choose most often?

    • #16
    • December 10, 2015, at 1:07 PM PST
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  17. Full Size Tabby Member

    Forty years ago my father (then a professor of mechanical engineering at one of the “less selective” campuses of the University of California) noticed the very high drop-out rate of students admitted to the engineering schools of the “most selective” UC campuses under what was then called “affirmative action.” He thought many of those students might have been quite successful at an engineering school at one of the less selective UC campuses (or at a CalState or CalPoly campus), but also noticed that the drop-outs from the most selective campuses did not transfer to a school that might be a better fit, and instead dropped out totally. So, instead of having a chance to become a successful engineer, those students admitted under “affirmative action” to a program for which they were not prepared ended up being labeled “failures.” My father therefore concluded that the “affirmative action” program was cruel to the very students it purported to help.

    • #17
    • December 10, 2015, at 2:19 PM PST
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  18. SParker Member

    Full Size Tabby: My father therefore concluded that the “affirmative action” program was cruel to the very students it purported to help.

    More generally, a British historian (I think it was John Keegan) said the crowning glory of the US is that you can get a first-rate education at a 3rd-rate school. I don’t know if it’s weird or to be expected that so many people in an egalitarian society spend so much time chasing after imaginary distinctions.

    • #18
    • December 10, 2015, at 7:36 PM PST
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  19. Pilgrim Thatcher
    Pilgrim Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    EDISONPARKS: Put another way, if the whites at the “less advanced” schools attended the “elite” schools, the white (ie: any color for that matter) students would be at the same disadvantage

    No, the thumbs on the scale for the affirmative action students are not available for the whites. Once admitted, the schools and profs are invested in getting the underqualified through in many subtle and not-so-subtle ways.

    • #19
    • December 11, 2015, at 10:40 AM PST
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  20. Mark Hunter Member

    SParker: More generally, a British historian (I think it was John Keegan) said the crowning glory of the US is that you can get a first-rate education at a 3rd-rate school.

    As a professor at a 3rd rate school who endeavors to provide a first rate education for my students, I applaud this concept.

    • #20
    • December 11, 2015, at 12:51 PM PST
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  21. Pugshot Member
    Pugshot Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    When I finished my first year in law school (back in the mid-70s) there was a movement among a certain group of students for the school to allow students with failing grades (primarily the few minority students) to continue to second year instead of being flunked out. The argument was essentially that there were too few examinations to adequately test a student’s abilities, and that, if given more time, the failing students would begin to grasp the material and would eventually be able to graduate. From the evidence of their in-class participation, it was clear that these students just weren’t adequately prepared for law school, and, however poorly they performed in oral recitation, I suspect that their critical writing skills were even worse. The school back then was committed to the idea that its role was to prepare its students for their future employment as lawyers, and that, to do so, it was necessary to apply strict and consistent standards. Accordingly, it expected to “wash out” a fair number of students during the first year (some who simply couldn’t cut it and some who, having been exposed to the law, decided it was simply not the field for them). The school stuck to its principles and the failing students flunked out. These days, based on a lot of the legal pleadings I have to review, these standards appear have been debased and many students – whatever their race – are managing to graduate, pass the bar, and attempt legal careers without adequate training. What the affirmative action advocates simply won’t accept is that this is not primarily a racial issue – it’s a competence issue. As several of the comments have pointed out, this applies whenever a college admits someone who turns out to be a “bad fit.” I suspect that colleges have always known that some students will not be able to cut it – for a variety of reasons – and that it was expected that a certain number would wash out after the first, or perhaps second, year. But these days, at least with respect to a certain group of students, the colleges cannot admit that their admission was always a gamble, that many of those students were admitted to boost the diversity quota, and that even with lowered standards (and the addition of many majors in “studies” programs) most of those students were never going to be able to handle the work. Such students would have been far better off spending one or two years in a community college getting the basics they required and then transferring to a four-year college that was a good match for their level of ability, but that doesn’t seem to be they path they’re directed to these days.

    • #21
    • December 11, 2015, at 1:01 PM PST
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  22. Mister Dog Coolidge

    Lazy_Millennial:Whenever the Republican primary ends, I think the single best argument you can give someone when they ask “Why should I support the nominee? I wanted someone else!” is this:

    Antonin Scalia is 79. No one will be able to replace him, but we NEED a Republican to pick who does, not a Democrat.

    Yes, with the former we at least have about a 50/50 chance of an acceptable replacement, as opposed to a zero chance with the latter.

    • #22
    • December 12, 2015, at 5:41 PM PST
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  23. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Mister Dog: Yes, with the former we at least have about a 50/50 chance of an acceptable replacement, as opposed to a zero chance with the latter.

    Unfortunately, with the former we probably have at MOST a 50/50 chance of an acceptable replacement.

    • #23
    • December 13, 2015, at 6:58 AM PST
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