Tuesday, April 21, 2009

In Favor Of Discrimination---And Prejudice

The too common and currently popular meaning of "discrimination" or "discriminate" has made that term a negative thing, a civic crime, even (For those who believe in such) a sin. In recent years that use has been generally limited to matters of real-or-alleged and unthinking words or actions against others on the basis of their race, gender, age and other factors over which individuals have no control (And some over which are subject to personal or cultural choices).

Yet, within my memory there was a time when both words were more used to define choices between what was good VS. evil, artistic VS vulgar, harmonious VS discordant, pleasing VS repulsive, moral VS harmful (To individuals and the "common good") AND many like selections.

Today's best discrimination can be applied to: Music as in the contrast between the violence praising (Especially against women and lawful authority) of the worst of "hip hop" and "rap" music VS the deepest emotions so well expressed by jazz, classical and liturgical tunes and lyrics; Poetry where almost random rantings can be seen as inferior to the careful craft of the true poet who communicates by great efforts the most subtle concepts and emotions; To science where some would inflict a religious-like and permanent faith VS the real science of ongoing-and-unbiased collection and reexamination of hard data; In politics where "sound bites" and appeals to truly base emotions and mob actions are opposed to fact-based and reasoned discourse; In journalism where philosophic-or-political biases have erased the differences between reporting and opinion VS the classical separation those two, equally useful, sides of the journalistic coin; In philosophic-and-religious words and actions of those who teach hate, war and crimes as proper VS those who maintain that peace, love and helping others are superior AND, in every other area of human-and-humane endeavors.

What this nation and this world needs is much more of the best variety of "discrimination"; And, basic to that use, a full understanding-and-acceptance of the fact of real differences between "good" and " bad" in all areas.

It is harder to defend "prejudice" as the common definitions include a factor of making decisions other than on clearly defined facts. However, many decisions are made on an intuitive integration of previously established facts. A classic example is that of Mr. Jessie Jackson admitting that he would feel safer walking down a dark street followed by a group of White youths rather than Black young men without knowing, as a matter of fact, their criminal records, if any, and intent, if any, to assault him.

Experienced police officers are able, by such experience and schooling, to act on probability to likewise pick out for special attention those persons who are most likely to be real or potential offenders. Such intuitive knowledge can be characterized by prior-and-factual data, integrated into decision making by means of probability statements as to the most likely reality and by the best use of intuition.

Perhaps, it is time to reexamine the benefits of traditional discrimination and of intuitive prejudice.

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