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Thursday, October 15, 2009

I'm not a racist but...

Holy freaking crap, what year is it again????
Interracial Couple Denied Marriage License By Louisiana Judge
"I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way."

Pardon me while I hide in the rarefied world that is the San Francisco Bay Area.

11 Comments:

  • There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage," Bardwell said. "I think those children suffer and I won't help put them through it."

    He may be misguided but if he is being honest then it is hard to say that he is racist, because a careful reading shows that he is neither prejudiced against nor discriminating against one race in favour of another.

    An interesting question that arises here is whether judges should have the freedom of conscience to refuse to marry whomever they wish.

    By Blogger Michael, at 9:33 PM  

  • Refusing to marry two people based on the fact that they are of different races (and that their children will be mixed race) is by definition racist.
    Why is he refusing to marry them? because of their races. ergo he is racist.

    By Blogger Chrisfs, at 5:56 PM  

  • Well ... sort of. He's refusing to marry them because he thinks, as a factual matter, that their marriage will not succeed and that their children will be materially disadvantaged.

    Interesting observation that this brings up for me - racism is a matter of conforming to the culturally accepted version of facts. The culturally accepted facts are that interracial marriages do not last shorter than intraracial marriages, and that the children of interracial marriages are not materially disadvantaged compared to the children of intraracial marriages.

    Here we have a man who is saying that he disagrees that those are the facts. He is not saying that he believes black people are inferior to white people, just that certain things happen to be true of interracial couples. He isn't saying that interracial couples can't get married, just that he cannot in good conscience do it himself. The dispute is not over racial superiority but over the historical results of interracial marriages.

    This is a very factual matter. Does it strike me as racist? Yes. I am disturbed, however, by the realization that racism is a matter of telling people that they cannot hold honestly held beliefs about facts.

    By Blogger Natalie, at 11:19 AM  

  • Both GOP Governor and Dem Senator call for Judge's removal.
    http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/63543-jindal-landrieu-call-for-judges-removal

    By Blogger Chrisfs, at 12:35 PM  

  • Natalie,

    I'm not sure what you mean by the phrase 'belief about facts' facts are such that they do not require belief. They exist on their own. Had the judge wanted to set this out, he could have cited studies or consulted experts, rather than drawing on anecdotes. That is generally expected in a legal proceeding.

    This is not a factual matter because he hasn't presented any facts, just a sort of 'well everyone knows...' conjecture.
    Now let's say he did cite a sociological study that compares the length of marriages and income and what not.
    First this would be an average result. Not an unalterable outcome for any particular couple. The child of at least one interracial couple has done quite well. (President Obama).
    To refuse to marry a couple based on average results is to deny people their own attempt to do better than those results.

    Secondly, that could be applied to a huge number of cases. There's correlation for increased divorce rates for low income people and for smokers. so the reasoning would apply that people in neither of those groups should get married because their marriages don't last long and consider their children.

    By Blogger Chrisfs, at 12:58 PM  

  • Refusing to marry two people based on the fact that they are of different races (and that their children will be mixed race) is by definition racist.

    By definition, racism is (the expression of) prejudice and antagonism towards people of other races. That does not apply here, ergo he is strictly not a racist.

    Why is he refusing to marry them? because of their races. ergo he is racist.

    Why did 91% of black voters vote for Obama? Because of his race. Ergo they are racist?

    racism is a matter of conforming to the culturally accepted version of facts.

    AKA the politically correct "facts".

    I am disturbed, however, by the realization that racism is a matter of telling people that they cannot hold honestly held beliefs about facts.

    Playing the race card is, unfortunately, a well-worn tactic in the rarefied world of the left….

    Both GOP Governor and Dem Senator call for Judge's removal.

    Of course, but what else would you expect politicians to do?! The merits of the case are an entirely separate matter.

    facts are such that they do not require belief. They exist on their own.

    Ah, but what are the facts? Studies and experts contradict.

    Had the judge wanted to set this out, he could have cited studies or consulted experts, rather than drawing on anecdotes. That is generally expected in a legal proceeding.

    This was a press interview however, not a legal proceeding.

    This is not a factual matter because he hasn't presented any facts, just a sort of 'well everyone knows...' conjecture.

    To be fair, he did present some facts: his personal experience.

    The child of at least one interracial couple has done quite well. (President Obama).

    A cogent example in that it directly supports the judge's "experience that most interracial marriages do not last long". And by his own account, Obama was an angry young man suffering from issues of identity.

    To refuse to marry a couple based on average results is to deny people their own attempt to do better than those results.

    It is not as if he were the only judge in town. He was not denying any rights but rather refusing to participate in what he believes to be an ill-advised venture. Louisiana judges are authorized but not mandated to officiate at marriages.

    From Chris' article: 'press spokesman Bill Burton … did note: “I’ve found that actually the children of biracial couples can do pretty good.”'

    Yikes. Obama may have done "pretty good", but one would expect his press secretary to be able to distinguish between an adjective and an adverb!

    By Blogger Michael, at 5:09 PM  

  • Facts are such that they do not require belief. They exist on their own.
    That is true. However, people can't interact with facts except by holding opinions about them. "Interracial marriages do not last as long as intraracial marriages" is a factual statement. It asserts that something is true about the world that would be true even if the speaker held no belief about the statement. Whether or not the statement is true is a matter of fact, but people can only express belief as to the fact's truth or falsehood. The justice of the peace is of the belief that this factual statement is true. The majority of our culture (I think) is of the belief that this factual statement is false.

    By Blogger Natalie, at 11:02 AM  

  • Just because you can state something in a factual way doesn't make it true. Sure, a child of an interracial relationship may face challenges, but so do we all, and that's no grounds to prevent people from marrying when it is your job to do so.

    Because clearly, interracial kids have it so very hard. It's not like they could ever become Miss America or world-champion golfers or something like the President of the United States. They're clearly all doomed to misery and failure. Clearly.

    By Blogger Ammy, at 11:37 AM  

  • Just because you can state something in a factual way doesn't make it true.

    No — but of course that doesn't make it false either.

    Sure, a child of an interracial relationship may face challenges, but so do we all, and that's no grounds to prevent people from marrying when it is your job to do so.

    But neither did he prevent anyone from marrying, nor is that his job. As a Louisiana judge he is authorized but not mandated to do so.

    Because clearly, interracial kids have it so very hard. It's not like they could ever become Miss America or world-champion golfers or something like the President of the United States. They're clearly all doomed to misery and failure. Clearly.

    I did not see the judge saying anything about failure, but I did read what he said about misery. Obama himself wrote that as a teenager he had used alcohol, marijuana and cocaine to "push questions of who I was out of my mind". How much worse was it for the average kid?

    What about what the judge said about mixed-race marriages being less accepted and having a higher divorce rate? Tim Padgett et al (Color-Blind Love, Time, February 2004) wrote:

    Melanie Clark [38], a white Wal-Mart employee who married [a] black mechanic, in 1992… was attracted to Darryl, 36, who showed a gentle interest in her, taking her dancing and teaching her how to hunt deer. Others were less pleased about their getting together. Some of their black neighbors in the rural community of Branchville, Ala. — particularly the women — were so angry about the marriage that they picketed the couple's home and openly insulted Melanie, calling her "white trash." Darryl, who admits to having had a temper back then, struck back when someone fired into their home in 1996, and a gunfight erupted. Melanie's son Adam, then 13, was wounded.

    They also wrote that a University of Houston study found mixed marriages to be 30% more likely to have high stress levels. And Jenifer Bratter and Rosalind King ("But Will It Last?": Marital Instability among Interracial and Same-Race Couples, Family Relations 57(2), April 2008) report that same-race marriages between 1985 and 2000 had a roughly 25% divorce rate within the first ten years. The figure for mixed-race marriages: 37% (50% higher)!

    Looks as though the judge had his facts correct.

    By Blogger Michael, at 5:53 PM  

  • Just because you can state something in a factual way doesn't make it true.
    No, of course it doesn't. But that's not my point. My point is that there's a difference between thinking that white people are superior to black people and that intraracial marriages last longer than interracial marriages. Those are two different sorts of statements. I'll call the former an "opinion" because it does not easily admit of experimental validation. I'll call the latter "factual" because it does easily admit of experimental validation. I am not making a point about the truth or falsehood of the statement; I am making a point about a different feature of that statement, and others like it.

    I'm willing to bet that at the time we each formed our opinions about whether it is racist to believe that intraracial marriages last longer than interracial marriages, none of us had any data on hand that was probative of that statement's truth or falsehood. That means that we either (i) don't believe the justice of the peace that he is accurately representing his thought processes or (ii) consider it inherently racist to believe that certain easily provable things are true, even though we ourselves have no data upon which to base our belief about those things' truth or falsehood.

    I know for myself that it wasn't (i). Which means it was (ii). Which I find humbling food for thought.

    By Blogger Natalie, at 9:10 PM  

  • Judge involved resigns.
    http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/11/03/louisiana.interracial.marriage/index.html

    By Blogger Chrisfs, at 3:56 PM  

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