Friday, April 13, 2007

Diversity semantics & logic

Editor, the Post-Crescent:

I am writing in response to the letter from Jim Dickson published in the April 3 Post-Crescent. Mr. Dickson asserts that "One of the latest deceptions to be introduced as politically correct is the concept that diversity is good." He then postulates a series of unethical and criminal behaviors as evidence that diversity can be bad.

Merriam-Webster defines "diversity" as "the inclusion of diverse people (as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization." I know of no advocates who use the label of "diversity" to include unethical, criminal or harmful behavior. Rather we talk about the spectrum of human diversity to include all types of people -- not all types of behavior. There is still a sad lack of acceptance, in our community and in the world, for different cultures, races, ethnicities, genders, sexualities and faiths. Hurtful, unethical, unkind and criminal behaviors are not examples of "diversity" to lift up, but anti-social behaviors to discourage and censure.

To label anti-social behavior as diversity and then label diversity as "deceptive and dangerous" is to knock down a straw man. Let's not use semantics to justify prejudicial behaviors in a world that needs to do a better job of embracing diversity. This is not mere political correctness. People may not be equal at creation, but we should afford all people equal dignity, and appreciate the richness that diversity brings our community.

Terry Dawson, Chair
Toward Community: Unity in Diversity

Post-Crescent, April 3, 2007 letters:

Reflexively praising diversity not smart

One of the latest deceptions to be introduced as politically correct is the concept that diversity is good. Diversity may be good but it may be bad.

Something is not good just because it is different, and putting the label "diversity is good" on a bad habit or improper activity does not make it good.

If diversity is good, what's wrong with smoking in a bar in Appleton? Driving under the influence of alcohol? Taking performance-enhancing drugs? Raping corporate coffers to satisfy a greedy nature? Prowling around for sex partners? Being a bully? Taking a life?

To go from from "all men are created equal" to "diversity is good" involves a step across a huge chasm. People may be equal at creation, but diversity involves a totally different subject: what we do after our creation.Anyone teaching "diversity is good" has a lot of qualifying to do along with their teaching and the qualifying can't be as simple as saying diversity is good "as long as you don't hurt someone else." Diversity may start as an individual activity, e.g., reading pornography, but can end up being a Manson, Gein, Bundy, Dahmer or Gacy.

The teaching that "diversity is good" is deceptive and dangerous. If there needs to be a teaching on our differences, teach that we are created with different abilities and gifts to be used for the good of mankind.

Jim Dickson, Neenah