Negative Action

If not Yale or Harvard, then where? If you’re in, say, a boardroom with a bunch of people from Yale and Harvard, do you need someone from Appalachian State (which I’m sure is a fine institution) to balance things out? Do things need to be balanced out?

I bring this up in light of the occasional hand-wringing over the fact that all of the current U.S. Supreme Court justices went to law school at either Yale or Harvard. An “analysis” in The Washington Post put it best: “While some argue it doesn’t matter where the justices went to school, others say that it does.”

Why do we never see debates between some and others? Those two groups have a lot to hash out.

The Post analysis doesn’t quote or even paraphrase anyone from the “some” group, but “others” have a couple of explanations as to why this Harvard/Yale monopoly is bad. One is that it leaves out people from other law schools. That doesn’t seem like a reason but it’s also hard to argue with.

The other reason is that there is a lack of diversity in personal experience that is reflected in decision-making. For example, not all of us like beer. Apparently this lack of diversified experience explains why the justices always agree with each other.

Of course, it’s possible that it only seems as if the court is divided (perhaps along Harvard vs. Yale lines?). If we had justices from other walks of life, maybe we’d see five-way splits — 2 to 2 to 2 to 2 to 1 decisions. Imagine what a loser that last guy voting by himself must be.

It’s also possible that the problem — if it is a problem — is not with the Supreme Court but with Harvard and Yale. Maybe they’re not diversified enough. Or maybe they’re too diversified.

Consider that there are no Asian-Americans on the Supreme Court. Perhaps we need more Asian-Americans at Yale and Harvard.

That, as you may know, is the issue being tried in Boston as you read this. Conservative white activists have teamed up with Asians to claim that Harvard discriminates against Asians with an affirmative action program. You can’t say conservatives aren’t sensitive to the needs of minorities — at least minorities they think might help them get rid of affirmative action.

So if the plaintiffs win, either a lot more white applicants will get into their top college choices or a lot fewer white applicants will get into their top college choices because Asians will get in instead. And it may be that more Asians get into top colleges but fewer Asians get into other sorts of things because there’s no more affirmative action. There have to be some unintended consequences here — these bedfellows are bound to divorce.

Of course the real problem here isn’t affirmative action — it’s negative action. Asians, from what I’ve read anyway, think they get judged more harshly than others. That’s why so many white people get admitted to Harvard instead — non-Asian minorities don’t take that many slots.

Linda Arian, Michael Maloney’s campaign manager, with Maloney and his dog Yoshi.

Someone with some math skills needs to figure this out.

Political messaging. Here’s a hypothetical question: If you’re running for office and a news story appears about a past nasty divorce that looks kind of bad, is it a good idea to send out a press release accompanied by a photo of yourself smiling broadly while crouching next to an attractive young woman who is not your former spouse?

I’m not a political professional so I won’t answer the question, but check this out:

Yes, that appeared the other day with a press release from a candidate for Suffolk County (Massachusetts) district attorney that declared the candidate has learned from past mistakes and fully supports victims of domestic violence.

I don’t know what the dog’s doing there. My guess is that he’s the candidate’s therapist.

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