An unbiased definition of affirmative action

I’m looking for an objective, unbiased definition of affirmative action. The information I’ve seen on the web is pre-spun – i.e. conservatives say it’s about giving preferential treatment to certain groups and liberals say it does not favor one group over another.

Obviously, both statements can’t be true.

What I’m looking for is a dry, un-spun definition.


Well, you’re in luck.

Right here beside me I have Webster’s II New College Dictionary and on page 19 it defines “affirmative action” as:

Coincidentally, earlier this evening I helped my little brother put together a persuasive debate against affirmative action. This board is so timely!

That is a bad example. Then the arguement "Who are the underrepresented groups? How much representation does a group need/deserve to feel fully represented? will arise.

Try again please.

Thanks evilbeth. To be more clear, I would like to know how affirmative action manifests itself as law – what an actual statute says, but without pages of mind numbing legalese.

I didn’t try the first time.

Got a problem with the definition, take it up with Houghton Mifflin.

For the most part, I don’t personally agree with affirmative action but the OP asked for unbiased and a dictionary, while not entirely unbiased, is much better for that type of definition than, say, someone with a political agenda.

Damn I wish I could “not try” as good as you! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHHA!!!

Why thank you.
BTW, what is you unbiased definition?

An unbiased definition would be one that EVERYONE agrees with. Try finding one. And good luck!

My point is that you came into this thread and the only thing you have done so far is criticize someone’s attempt to deliver an unbiased (or as unbiased as possible) definition.

My suggestion to you is essentially, put up or shut up, to put it bluntly.

Don’t just hang around here ridiculing other people’s attmepts to answer the OP and not do anything to help shed light on the subject.

The point of the Straight Dope is to fight ignorance. Give it a shot.

And I kindly point out that your statement does have an arguable point in it. wow I hit the spaz button there!

Moderator Notes: No worries people, we’re working on it. Please ignore R_dawg3 or any of his incarnations. This thread will remain open for discussion.

  • Coldfire

[Edited by Coldfire on 11-22-2000 at 05:08 AM]

R_dawg, I thought you were banned. What’s up?

Ok, buddy. I don’t know if you have noticed or not but you are not particularly liked around here.

It has nothing to do with your “dangerous yet enlightening” ideas. It has to do with the fact that you have behaved like a jerk.

I have tried to be fair with you which is much more than you can say about most of the other people here who have interacted with you.

I answered your first question about being proud of being white. I answered it quite well. Then you proceeded to get yourself banned by acting like a jerk.

I came here to this thread to respond to a legitimate question by another poster and you came in here being obnoxious again for no reason.

You did not hit any “spaz” buttons.

What you did do is piss off one of the few people who didn’t automatically label you as a troll when you first posted.

I am known for defending posters that other people have decided should be outcast and ridiculed when I think they might actually have something intelligent to contribute to the boards.

You are no longer one of those people. Apparently, you have nothing to contribute but a blatant disregard for the rules and policies of this board and a contempt for anyone who dares think differently than you.

We don’t take kindly to people who come here refusing to learn.

I doubt you will be around much longer so it doesn’t concern me much but I just thought I’d let you know how things stand before you get banned again when you decide to again be a jerk.

Since affirmative is or has been the law in some areas, somewhere the law is written down. What I’m looking for is a plain-English summary of the law.

Nonsense deleted by Coldfire.

Moderator Notes: quit while you’re ahead, R_dawg.

[Edited by Coldfire on 11-22-2000 at 05:13 AM]

He’s snuck under the wire by “cleverly” adding “3” to the end of his name. I’m sure he’ll be out of here again soon.

Right now I’m looking for the abuse address for Videon CableSystems Alberta Inc. Be back shortly.


Ignoring the children, and getting back to the OP:

There is no singular ‘definition’ of ‘affirmative action’, if by that you mean a concise explanation of affirmative action laws. The dictionary definition provided by evilbeth is as good as any for a starting point. The actual implementation of that concept has resulted in any number of different approaches, from actual quotas to simple attempts to offer some sort of a leg up to some ‘minorities’ or otherwise underrepresented groups (women are not a minority, but have been considered an underrepresented group).

Now to clarify something said in the OP:

This is not correct. Liberals do not say it does not favor one group over another (at least, not any informed or educated liberal). The whole POINT to affirmative action is to treat under-represented groups WITH preference, in an attempt to remedy past discrimination. What liberals DO say is that it is not UNFAIR to do so; it simply acts to remedy a past injustice with continuing effects. The main opposition to this remedy is that it is fashioned at the expense of those who are NOT underrepresented, usually on the basis of supposedly suspect classifications. In short, instead of remedying the problem by adding more chances to be schooled, employed, etc., it remedies the problem by taking some chances away from one group (e.g. whites) and gives those chances to another group (e.g. blacks) based on nothing more than the fact one group is white and the other black. Of course, one can quite rightly point out in response that ANY attempt to remedy the underrepresentation of one group in some aspect of society will inherently come at the expense of whatever groups are over-represented, regardless of the mechanism involved.