HERE WE GO… OUTRAGE ALERT!
You can set your watch by this kind of outrage.
Every time a tweak is made to anti-discrimination laws, a small but loud minority starts wailing about how the “bitches”, “pansies” and “ethnics” are taking over the world. It’s a debate that almost always reaches its apoplectic apogee when someone mentions Hitler.
Watching it unfold online is a little like watching zombies learn how to type.
Australia’s Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, announced this week that federal anti-discrimination laws will be changed in an effort to streamline the process.
As you would expect, the bigot brigade is already out in force, complaining that their right to vilify people based on their gender, sexuality or race is being curbed.
Eventually the debate lurches just that little bit more off the path, sniffs fresh blood and starts staggering towards affirmative action.
Raaaahhhh!!! This is the root of all evil! Rahhhhh!!!! Women are stealing men’s jobs! Rahhhhh!!!!
Most people recognise that refusing someone a job because of their race, gender or sexuality is bone-headed behaviour.
This is why the debate often turns to affirmative action: the underlying principles of affirmative action are not particularly well understood and it’s therefore easy to manipulate people with misinformation to ratchet up the fury.
Let’s clear things up: affirmative action isn’t about taking jobs away from white men, nor is it about giving jobs to unqualified or sub-intelligent women or minority groups. It’s about giving competent and qualified people the support they need to reach the so-called level playing field that white men are occupying on their own. It’s about trying to get more diversity into workplaces, onto boards and into leadership positions.
It’s not about minority groups taking over, it’s about them being represented in a way that accurately reflects the population and recognises that everyone is equally capable.
I can understand some men being angry and fearful of this. In a world where the unconscious bias of white males employing other white males seems like nothing more than a sensible business decision instead of instilled discrimination, the idea of giving the job to anyone else is challenging.
However, for affirmative action to work it must first be assumed that there are competent people out there to fill the roles.
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