Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Unlevel playing fields

Chris Dillow is good on this very silly story about Scottish ministers insisting that sports clubs practice positive discrimination in favour of the disabled:
"SCOTTISH sports clubs have been told to recruit disabled players and guarantee them a weekly game under a controversial equality drive ordered by ministers.

The advice could see able-bodied players in a range of team sports - from football to bowls and athletics - sidelined in favour of the handicapped.

Last night, critics branded the online publication "control freakery" and even Scotland's major body for disabled sport appeared to distance itself from the comments."
As well they might. What Chris correctly identifies is the tendency to take a concept like equality and apply their conception of it to public policy without thinking what this means:
"Take an example everyone should agree upon. Everyone is equally entitled to a fair trial - that is, everyone should be treated as an equal in the provision of criminal justice. But no-one thinks there should be equality of treatment, with everyone getting the same verdict."
Related to this is the way the notion of 'discrimination' is used in a similarly unthinking way. It shouldn't require much subtlety of thought to add to one's concept of discrimination being a Bad Thing the caveat that it's only wrong to discriminate when the difference in question is irrelevant to the matter in hand - but for the Scottish Executive at least even this elementary reasoning seems too much of a stretch.

I could tell you what this has meant for education in this country but I'll spare you the rant.

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