I’m working with Kate on this one and our plan for the project is on her blog:
I have struggled with the topic for my advocacy project, but I think that I have finally come up with something. I didn’t really want to be too political, and wanted to do something that a wide range of people would respond to. My topic will be on second hand smoke, especially in regard to children. There is a proposed law in Texas right now that I believe should become a national law. Basically the law would say that it is illegal to smoke while children are present in either a closed space or close proximity to the smoker. Here is my plan:
Purpose: I want to advocate either people not smoking around children, or people to join some type of movement that would get this law passed.
Strategy: There are a lot of negative effects of second hand smoking, especially when it comes to children in their development phase. I could use a lot of emotional appeals to show how smoking around kids is a very bad thing.
Audience: My audience is very very broad for this. Everyone was a child once and therefore can relate to the protection of health for children. I honestly can’t think of anyone who this project would not relate to.
As far as the type of media I will use, I am torn between a video and a podcast. I like podcasts because they are like small radio speeches and I think it is fun to persuade with your voice. However, with a video I could add images that would enhance the emotional appeal.
** Please note that this draft does not contain citations for the sources I used. I will add them in before the final draft is due. Thanks
Mark S. Ryan
27 March 2013
True Fairness *DRAFT
One of the primary purposes of government, above simply protecting it’s citizens, is to fairly reallocate resources among it’s citizens to promote the general welfare of the state. The idea of a welfare state in politics is a relatively new one spawning from Europe in the late 19th century. Before welfare policies, the role of government was to simply ensure the safety of its citizens, but today, the role of government has expanded far beyond that. Today’s governments are charged with many duties, from providing public goods such as roads, to ensuring financially stable retirements through social security programs. At the national level of the United States government, we generally perceive the reallocation of resources in the form of money and taxes. Taxes are taken from American citizens and used to pay for such welfare programs, which usually makes the country as a whole better off. One could not justify the government taking resources, namely wealth, from an individual if it did not promote the general welfare of the entire country.
The key issue our political realm deals with on a day-to-day basis is the concept of “fairness”. Politicians argue over if it is fair to take a certain resources from one party and give it to another. However, many, if not all, politicians would agree that it is not fair to reallocate a resource based on arbitrary factors. The government would not give tax breaks to people who have black hair over blonde, nor would the government tax people who wear dark clothing and not white. These principles hold steadfast when we talk about the resource of money. But we seem to abandon these values when it comes to the resource of education.
Like money, secondary education is a resource in this country that can be defined as scarce. A college education costs money, and some people are denied the opportunity to receive a college education simply because there are more people seeking educations than there are positions at educational institutions. Because of this, colleges and universities across the country have created a process which all high school graduate and college hopeful teenager fears: admissions. Throughout American history, the college admissions process has been largely left to the specific college’s will. A college can admit whomever they wish based on whatever criteria they want. It is common today that a large factor in the admissions process is a students merits and achievements. The government does play a role in college admissions when it comes to the race of applicants. The federal government does not allow schools to racially discriminate in its admissions process, based on the 14th amendment and anti-discrimination acts. However, as upheld in several Supreme Court cases, the federal government does allow schools to allocate their open positions to students while using race as a factor. This is a glaring contradiction in policy dealing with college admissions, and brings up the question of “fairness” once again. But if it is already established that it is not fair to give tax breaks based on hair color, then how is it fair to allocate education based on skin color? Affirmative action is processes that is unconstitutional and perpetuates racial stereotypes rather than eliminate them.
To discuss the constitutionality of affirmative action, we must look at the Supreme Court case that gave universities and colleges the federal stamp of approval to use race as a factor in admissions. Grutter v. Bollinger is the most recent completed Supreme Court case that deals with affirmative action in admissions and was certain to have an influential impact no matter the outcome. The case came about when the law school admissions process at University of Michigan was challenged. The system at the time was like many admissions systems then and now. It gave the most weight to conventional merit-based factors in admissions such as GPA, LSAT scores, leadership achievements, etc. However, it did give some weight to other factors, including race. The admissions use of race as a factor was challenged and upheld by a vote of 5-4 in the Supreme Court.
The case was not at all clear-cut. It is obvious that schools cannot use race as a factor of admissions arbitrarily, for that would be a clear violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. The justification for using race as a factor in admissions, as written by the majority opinion of the Court in this court case, says that a high level of diversity “has the potential to enrich everyone’s education and thus make a law school class stronger than the sum of its parts”. This may seem like a valid and logical argument, but it contains one fatal flaw in its logic. The Court says that diversity in an education environment may make the education stronger, which may be true, but it relies on the fundamental assumption that diversity is directly linked to race. This reasoning assumes that if everyone in a classroom has a different skin color, then the room is more diverse. This may be true in some cases, but it certainly could false in some instances as well. In fact, for the court to reason that skin color equates to ethnic and cultural diversity only perpetuates the racist ideal that people of different skin color should be treated differently. There are two scenarios that exist in our country that counter this logic: First is the case when there are two people of different skin color that have had the same cultural upbringing and therefore do not promote educational diversity when put in the same setting. The other instance is when we have two people of the same skin color that have been raised in different ethnic and cultural environments that would in fact promote diversity when put together in an educational environment. Both of these situations show that the promotion of racial diversity is found on flawed, and racist logic.
Another aspect of the majority opinion of the Court in Grutter v. Bollinger is the concept of a “critical mass”. The law school stated in their defense of affirmative action:
“racial and ethnic diversity with special reference to the inclusion of students from groups which have been historically discriminated against, like African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans, who without this commitment might not be represented in our student body in meaningful numbers.”
The school continued to argue that it is necessary to have a “critical mass” of each racial group enrolled in the school. This is defined as a group of racially similar students that is big enough to ensure that a member of that racial group feels comfortable in expression their opinion without feeling like a miniscule minority, or feel as though their opinion is supposed to represent their race. The Court said that a “critical mass” is constitution because it “ensure[s] their [individual student’s] ability to make unique contributions to the character of the Law School”.
Again, this reasoning by the court lacks in sound logic and is based on fundamental racist assumptions. First, the Court and the school assume that if a race is underrepresented in the educational setting, then individuals within that race with withhold their opinions. This assumption is flawed in that it is based on the reasoning that individuals will segregate into their own racial groups, and thus will only be comfortable expressing their opinion to those of their own race. To generalize the acts of an individual and to argue that an individual needs to have racial affirmation to express his/her own opinion is itself a racist argument. It also brings up another inherent flaw in that the Court implies that members of the same racial group have similar opinions about all issues. This sweeping generalization is the backbone of the “critical mass” argument and is obviously flawed logically and racially.
We need, as a society, to stop focusing on racial groupings and stereotypes, and focus on the individual. When a prospective student applies to a college, he/she is not applying as a group, rather as an individual. Why should we treat students as members of their racial group if they are applying to the college as an individual? This issue goes beyond the manmade rules of the constitution and at its core is a matter of morality and racism. If we look at the defense of affirmative action from a moral scope, we find several faults as well. By assuming that people of different races in an educational have different opinions and will create a “whole” that is more diverse, we only promote the idea that people of different races are inherently different. The current affirmative action policy, while intended to include “students from groups which have been historically discriminated against,” only promotes the same racist thinking found in the same American history the school is trying to “fix”. How can we create a society in which all races are equal if the government and schools make distinctions between races and treat some races differently? In order for our society to reach true racial equality, we must be a society that is blind to skin color.
Proponents of affirmative action in college admissions say that schools need a “critical mass” of each race in order for that race’s opinion to be represented. But doesn’t this just promote segregation? If an individual cannot express an opinion without peers of his/her own race, then wouldn’t all of the educational setting be comprised of strict racial groups? Our ultimate goal of racial equality in the educational setting should not be to have “racial opinions” represented, but to have the opinions of individuals represented regardless of race. A true diverse educational setting would be one that has a singular body comprised of individuals with diverse opinions. The current standard promotes an educational setting comprised of segregated groups with similar opinions. Our goal should be a society that does not make these unethical racial distinctions and treats everyone as an individual, not a skin color. The practice of creating a “critical mass” is based on immoral racist ideals that only perpetuate the problem it is intended to fix.
Perhaps the most prominent argument against the ethics of affirmative action is the argument pertaining to the daunting term, “fairness”. The current policies allow schools to put preferences for their allocation their educational resources to some racial groups over others. More bluntly, schools can lower admissions standards for racial minorities and raise the standards for whites. It is argued that minority races have been disadvantaged in the past and thus deserve a “boost” over whites to get into college. This reasoning is outdated and overtly racist. The question should be raised as to whether or not a lower standard in admissions for minorities is a “boost”. Help to overcome a disadvantage should not come in the form of a lower standard. This policy only harms. If the goal is to put every race on the same level of advantage in the educational setting, then policies should be enacted to help the disadvantaged become advantaged. Instead, the current policy discriminates and lowers standards to minority races at the expense of whites, for the standards of whites must be raised to counter the policy. This fundamentally is creating a disadvantage for one race while giving advances to others, the inherent principle behind all of racism. Affirmative action immorally gives preference for opportunity to students based on the color of their skin, contradicting what our country has established as fair and ethical.
Many people were not satisfied with the ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger just a decade ago and have since challenged its ruling. A new case has been brought to the Supreme Court, Fisher v. University of Texas, which challenges the same unconstitutional and immoral practices allowed by the Court in Grutter v. Bollinger. If the Court were to overturn its decision from a decade ago, our society would make another stride toward creating a racially equal society. Barriers between races could be torn down, people would not be defined in any way by the color of their skin, and true diversity in the educational setting can be achieved.
The practice of affirmative action judges individuals based on the color of their skin and the stereotypes that are associated with racial groups. The overturning of such policies would judge people based on their individual actions, values, morals, achievements, and cultural perspective without assumptions about the person based on the color of their skin. Martin Luther King Jr. said “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” This country is ready to take skin color out of the college admissions process and transform racial stereotypes to individual beliefs, discrimination into equality, and dreams into reality.
For my essay, I believe that I am going to argue against the use of race as a determining factor in college admissions. Simply put, I don’t think that colleges should even care about the color of your skin and should take the colorblind approach. Instead of a 5 paragraph essay here, it would benefit me more to construct an outline with my thoughts on what I would put on each section. I welcome comments and suggestions. Thanks.
Intro: Here I want to start off with a captivating hook. Its important to build ethos right in the beginning of the essay which I plan on doing by talking about my recent experience in the college application process. After the anecdote about my experience, I will state my thesis and introduce the current supreme court case that could change the current policy on this issue.
Body1: I will introduce the facts of this issue by talking about the court case. I can talk about both positions in the case as a means of introducing facts of the issue. This will require extensive research.
Body2: Here I would like to talk about why people should agree with me. Here I can use the Constitution as a tool of ethos and logos to present my point. This would be considered my confirmation.
Body3: I plan to refute the points of the opposing argument. I definitely need to do research, but I think it would be good to start a moral argument. Questioning the morality of admitting a student because of race would be a good idea here.
Body4: I Think It would be smart here to introduce a new side of this issue. It could possibly be another counter argument or a bigger picture kind of thing. “It doesn’t only effect individuals applying to colleges, but it effects the entire labor market as a whole”…
Conclusion: Sum it all up, add some nice pathos and logos, end with a strong closing sentence.
Proposal for persuasive essay:
My civics issues blog has been about Affirmative Action in the workplace and in college admissions. This is an issue I feel pretty strongly about and I am firmly against Affirmative Action, especially in the college admissions area. The whole topic of Affirmative Action is broad and I think it would be good for me to narrow it down to just talking about college admissions. It is my belief that schools should not consider race as a factor of college admissions. Schools rationalize using race in admissions because they believe people with different skin colors come from different cultures and will produce a culturally diverse educational environment. It is my belief that racial diversity does not equate to cultural diversity. I plan on writing a persuasive essay that persuades people that affirmative action is unconstitutional and unethical in college admissions and that the college admissions process need be reformed to not consider race as a factor of admissions. There is a lot of viewpoints on this topic and I feel it is a substantial base to write this paper on.
To be a good moderator, I think it is most important that the moderator lets each viewpoint on an issue be given equal weight in terms of focus in the conversation. I think it is more important that the moderator focus on evening out time spent talking on each viewpoint than time spent talking by each person. Sometimes unpopular viewpoints get underrepresented by the conversation and its important for the moderator to not let a popular viewpoint take over the conversation. That said, the point of the deliberation will ultimately be to reach some sort of understanding or consensus. Eventually it will be the moderator’s job to steer the conversation away from simply expressing ideas, to finding compromises and solutions. My hope is that this will all happen naturally in a deliberation, but if that were the case then there would be no need for moderators. I think its most important for the moderator to keep the conversation balanced well, and moving in the right direction. In some cases, that may mean a lot of intervention, while other deliberations may require less interference. I’ll just have to wait and see for next week. Maybe after next week, my philosophy will be different.
The guy in this video makes some very interesting points that are very hard to argue against. He suggests the idea that labels are created by our government and other political bodies in order to create a certain connotation about a policy related issue. He continues to say that the people who create these labels understand the power that a label can have and that is why they do it. I completely agree with him and he uses many examples to strengthen his claim. What I agree with as well is that he says labels like these impede true discussion. Because the labels emotionally charge people up, it makes it harder for people to have a sensible, and rational conversation about the topic. He finishes with the end claim that the new labels for guns are just a coverup for the fact that people are the ones who are responsible. Again, I agree with him, but its important to think critically about his claim. Even though individuals are responsible for creating gun violence, does that mean nothing should be done? A question to ponder…
For the work in progress this week, I believe that we were supposed to talk about the online forum we were going to use for our online deliberation. I chose debatepolitics.com. To me, it seems like the best site to use because the people on in generally respect each other’s opinions. I looked at a few threads and most of them are formal, which tend to draw in intelligent people as opposed to a quick informal site that people quickly post on with no knowledge. I think I am going to end up focusing on something about the budget or spending, although the site has a wide range of topics to debate on.
And on another note, by This I Believe Post: (feel free to comment if you agree/disagree.)
Like most people in America do today, I believe that no person should be deprived of opportunity based on race. However, I also believe in the compliment of that statement in that no person should be given an opportunity based on race as well. This a political debate happening in Washington today, coined by the phrase “Affirmative Action”. Our government currently allows employers to put preference on an employee of minority race for a position over non-minorities regardless of merit so that the company can be diverse and look as though it is non-discriminatory. This issue of Affirmative Action is also pertinent to the life of a high school student trying to get into college. It seems like more than just a year ago when I was filling out my college applications and writing all my college essays the night before the application was due. The counselors told me to mix my applications between safe schools I knew I could get into, moderate schools, and “reach” schools that I probably wouldn’t be accepted by. As I filled in these applications, there were certain things all of them had in common. Name, age, birthdate, GPA, all of which made sense to me, except one: race. Why must race be a factor of me getting into the school? As I went through my research of these schools, I became even more disturbed. I wished to apply for merit scholarships that I felt I earned from my hard work in high school. Every school had a list of at least a dozen scholarships to apply to, but I rarely qualified for more than one. Most of these scholarships were for “diverse” students from “diverse” backgrounds. You must be African American, or Hispanic, or Native American, or Pacific Islander to apply. Why could I not apply? Why do others have to opportunity to get this scholarship money, or have a better chance of getting into this school over me? If I was not a white male, I would have had more opportunities in the college application process, regardless of my high school merits and accomplishments, and I believe that is wrong. I believe affirmative action is a process that schools and employers use to promote equality through inequality. I believe that depriving someone of an opportunity because of their race is just as immoral as giving others special opportunities because of their race. I believe the notion of affirmative action is immoral because I believe in true racial equality.
I believe that there is no real right answer. This also implies that I also believe that there is no wrong answer. In our culture, we place too much emphasis on what is considered “right” and what is “wrong”. Many people see problems as having one solution, whether simple or complex. There is no better example of this in America than our politics. Our two-party system has created a political environment in which each debatable issue has two separate opposing sides, one on the left, the liberals, the democrats, and one on the right, the conservatives, the republicans. Those on the left see the left as the correct side and the right as incorrect. Likewise, the republicans refuses to think their position is wrong or that the democrats may be right. Both sides think their view of government is the best. But I don’t believe either is right. There is no solution that is best. “Best” is a subjective term that is effected by one’s view of the world and their life experiences. What some may consider best, others may not. This brings up the simple question, “Who is this best for?” There is no solution to a problem in society in which everyone receives the “best” outcome, therefore, there is no right or wrong answer to the problem. For there to be a right answer, there must be an ideal solution. For there to be an ideal solution, everyone must be happy. There is no right answer. Only when our policymakers realize that their answers aren’t right and don’t make everyone happy, will both sides be able to compromise and progress and create a government that responds to the needs of a nation as a whole.