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  1. #1
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    Separate but Equal

    This thread is intended for discussion of segregation and, despite its obviously discriminatory nature, whether separating individuals on the basis of group characteristics is necessarily unequal or constitutes inequality.

    I've been seeing a lot of play on "separate but equal is inherently unequal" lately, especially in gay rights and homosexual marriage threads. Examples below.
    Quote Originally Posted by Booger View Post
    And of course, "separate but equal" is inherently unequal.
    Quote Originally Posted by cds69 View Post
    I believe the words "separate but equal" come to mind.
    Quote Originally Posted by scottyT View Post
    Separate has been proven to be not equal in terms of law. See the civil rights movement. Therefore, if you separate something it is inherently unequal
    I intend to argue that separate but equal accommodations, services, and institutions for differentiated groups are exactly what the preceding qualifying phrase would indicate: separate, but equal. The separation, or segregation, of individuals is not inherently unequal. Elaborated, the parity of accommodation is not offended by discriminatorily divorcing from each other, dividing, or partitioning those who receive that accommodation.

    Given the nature of the subject, however, it is difficult to make much of an opening argument. The socially dominant views of our time aside, the burden of argument as to this issue immediately lies with the opponent of segregation: the phrase in question, after all, is "separate but equal." To advocate desegregation on the grounds that separation of individuals on account of some particular trait or differentiating characteristic is a violation of equality must necessarily overcome the initially blatant parity of that separation.

    Let us assume, then, that these separate accommodations are tangibly equivalent. Any and all manner of objective assessment determines the exchange of these accommodations to be superfluous. That is, given the segregation of groups A and B into Service 1 for A and Service 2 for B, to instead render S-1 to B and S-2 to A would realize no differences; it would be as if no switch had taken place.

    I thus leave the floor to those who would argue that separate accommodations, services, or institutions are inherently unequal, but first, a quotation from (and yes, the) Plessy v. Ferguson:
    We consider the underlying fallacy of the plaintiff's argument to consist in the assumption that the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority. If this be so, it is not by reason of anything found in the act, but solely because the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it.
    I use this to segue into my final point: that even if a feeling of inferiority is engendered by the divided groups' perspectives on the social implications of that separation, it is not equivalent to inequality. An individual's perception of social inequality because of separation is not tantamount to an inequality caused by separation. Separation into equivalent accommodation is not unequal merely because it engenders a psychology of inferiority; this is an important social question, to be sure, but not relevant to the equality or inequality of segregation. Any appeal to psychological inferiority (and really, any argument at all) should be substantiated with something more than "Brown v. Board says so." Kindly supplement any quotation of Brown's hastily reached conclusions or barebones analysis with your own reasoning.

    And, away we go.
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  2. #2
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    Re: Separate but Equal

    i agree. if both groups get the same rights, opportunities, treatment, and so forth, than it is equal. however you should note that if one groups gets a feeling of inferiority, then the other must consider itself superior. it is true that both groups are equal when seperated, but what happens when they are together?

  3. #3
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    Re: Separate but Equal

    Just as a prelude to the upcoming debate, would you be able to cite a few examples of what you believe to be successful "separate but equal" policy?
    [CENTER]-=] Starcreator [=-

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    Re: Separate but Equal

    Problem 1
    It is purely hypothetical. In our experience any time Separate but Equal has been implemented, the group enforcing the policy has consistently made the separation unequal. There is always incentive for a group with exclusive control over a thing to improve their portion of it. If a group is more numerous they will inevitably have greater resources to do so. Imagining two groups of equal means and equal power voluntarily segregating and maintaining equal footing seems highly unlikely and thus makes a case for a largely moot scenario of discussion.

    So while it perhaps is not "inherently" unequal, it is for all practical purposes and reasonably imagined scenarios going to be unequal if practiced beyond a very small and limited scale.

    Problem 2
    Forced separation is inherently unequal. If one group wishes to segregant themselves and the other group does not, then the segregation group must limit the non serrating one in their liberty and movement creating a situation where one groups liberty is restricted and the other's is not.

    Problem 3
    True equality is nearly impossible to achieve. Each group would need identical leaders with identical power and each would need identical resources and identical talents and so on. If there were truly no mixing then each group would essentially need to be clones of one another to maintain equality unless each agreed to a standard equal to the lowest the other group could maintain which would simply be very wasteful of resources.

  5. #5
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    Re: Separate but Equal

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    Problem 1
    It is purely hypothetical. In our experience any time Separate but Equal has been implemented, the group enforcing the policy has consistently made the separation unequal.
    ...
    So while it perhaps is not "inherently" unequal, it is for all practical purposes and reasonably imagined scenarios going to be unequal if practiced beyond a very small and limited scale.
    Point taken. However, when pressured by the court system in response to such claims, the American South (as an example) put significant effort to maintain parity, as in equalization programs in education.
    From Brown v. Board, decision of U.S. District Court of Kansas (which was subsequently appealed to the SCOTUS; the Supreme Court affirmed the District Court's analysis as to this basic objective parity):

    We have found as a fact that the physical facilities, the curricula, courses of study, qualification of and quality of teachers, as well as other educational facilities in the two sets of schools are comparable. It is obvious that absolute equality of physical facilities is impossible of attainment in buildings that are erected at different times. So also absolute equality of subjects taught is impossible of maintenance where teachers are permitted to select books of their own choosing to use in teaching in addition to the prescribed courses of study. It is without dispute that the prescribed courses of study are identical in all of the Topeka schools and that there is no discrimination in this respect. It is also clear in the record that the educational qualifications of the teachers in the colored schools are equal to those in the white schools and that in all other respects the educational facilities and services are comparable. It is obvious from the fact that there are only four colored schools as against eighteen white schools in the Topeka School District, that colored children in many instances are required to travel much greater distances than they would be required to travel could they attend a white school, and are required to travel much greater distances than white children are required to travel. The evidence, however, establishes that the school district transports colored children to and from school free of charge. No such service is furnished to white children. We conclude that in the maintenance and operation of the schools there is no willful, intentional or substantial discrimination in the matters referred to above between the colored and white schools. In fact, while plaintiffs' attorneys have not abandoned this contention, they did not give it great emphasis in their presentation before the court. They relied primarily upon the contention that segregation in and of itself without more violates their rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.

    Problem 2
    Forced separation is inherently unequal. If one group wishes to segregant themselves and the other group does not, then the segregation group must limit the non serrating one in their liberty and movement creating a situation where one groups liberty is restricted and the other's is not.
    The kind of "restriction" your example describes results from any policy that affects individuals among whom include those who would prefer to not abide by the policy and those who prefer to follow it. This is not related to separation: it is the result of any public policy.
    Segregation is not unique among coercive policy in that some groups' liberty and wants will be restricted while others' are fulfilled. Separation of accommodation is not inherently unequal simply because some people would rather have Service 2 while others are unhappy to be relegated to that alternative.

    Problem 3
    True equality is nearly impossible to achieve. Each group would need identical leaders with identical power and each would need identical resources and identical talents and so on. If there were truly no mixing then each group would essentially need to be clones of one another to maintain equality unless each agreed to a standard equal to the lowest the other group could maintain which would simply be very wasteful of resources.
    See above, indented.


    _________________________________ Post Merged _________________________________


    Quote Originally Posted by starcreator View Post
    Just as a prelude to the upcoming debate, would you be able to cite a few examples of what you believe to be successful "separate but equal" policy?
    Separate accommodations for travel are the prime example, in my opinion. To wit and to illustrate:



    More seriously, separate cabins on trains and within airplanes fit the kind of segregation I defend here. They can easily be made separate, yet equal.

    I am also willing to discuss segregation in public schooling; I will note, however, that the allegedly inherent inequality of separate accommodations has been argued to apply beyond the scope of education to include modes of travel, restaurants, water fountains, and other services and institutions. The equality of separation does not fall on potential demerits specific to educational institutions. I will, however, argue the topic if anyone wants to challenge that particular segregationist policy.
    Last edited by Fangrim; December 5th, 2008 at 08:56 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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  6. #6
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    Re: Separate but Equal

    I agree that separation does not necessarily imply inequality. But neither does the equivalence of benefits enjoyed by the separated groups imply equality. Two groups might be separated into two spheres, each enjoying equivalent treatment and benefits; but if the separation itself is motivated by unjustified discrimination, then they would be "unequal" in a figurative sense.

    To illustrate, if we separated blacks from whites into different parts of the country, with each part being equally developed and availing of opportunities, inequality still exists if the motivation for the separation is the belief that blacks are inferior and should not be allowed to corrupt the white culture and gene pool. Here the inequality stems from the prejudice and bigotry harboured by the whites, who do not see the blacks as equal human beings.

    Similarly, if we are talking about gay marriage, civil unions are unequal to marriage because of the motivating factor behind denying same-sex marriage. Here the prejudice implicit in such a separate arrangement is that homosexual relationships are somehow immoral or less desirable and should not be allowed to corrupt the institution of marriage.

    Thus, I would argue that you have focused on the wrong side of the issue. The key to whether any separation is unequal does not lie in the feelings of inferiority (rightly or wrongly) engendered by the separation; it lies in the reasons motivating the separation in the first place.
    Trendem

  7. #7
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    Re: Separate but Equal

    Quote Originally Posted by starcreator View Post
    Just as a prelude to the upcoming debate, would you be able to cite a few examples of what you believe to be successful "separate but equal" policy?

    Gender separated public restrooms.

    Gender separated educational institutions.

    Racially self-segregated housing at Cornell and UPenn.

    Racially segregated prison housing units.

  8. #8
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    Re: Separate but Equal

    I think the old saying "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" REALLY applies here. No matter if things were equal in EVERY minute detail.

  9. #9
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    Re: Separate but Equal

    I believe the difference is in theory and reality. It is possible for there to be two separate public school systems which are in fact equal in funding and quality. But the record shows that the two school systems in the US in the time of racial segregation were anything but equal, and there were no attempts to make it so.

  10. #10
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    Re: Separate but Equal

    The reason that Separate but Equal is considered inherently unequal is because separating groups into different accommodations due to their membership in groups implies that they are not equal. If they are not equal than there would not be a reason for the separation. This obviously could lead to psychological inferiority problems in separated minority groups.

    The biggest problem with segregation is when you look at it practically rather than theoretically. It would require ridiculously massive amount of oversight to go in an inspect the accommodations of all segregated areas, but without this we would have the same problems when we instituted segregation with unequal accommodations.

    Even if the aspects within a building are the same that does not make the places the same either. For example say that there are two equal schools that a family can send their children to, both have equal accommodations, one is 1 mile from their house and the other is 8 miles away. If the schools were segregated then they are not equal because one requires a greater amount of time and effort to get to. Problems like this can especially come up with things like hospitals where the extra time required to go to an area where a patient could be treated could be a matter of life or death.

    There is also the problem with limited services in an area. For example say there is a small town with two-three grocery stores which are all owned by the majority and segregated so the minority cannot use them. There may be other equal grocery stores for the minority to use elsewhere in the country, but it would not be much help to them.

    Another problem with segregation is that you are going to have minority and majority groups, this will be reflected in our government. Most people will not have a reason to look out for groups other than their own resulting in the segregated institutions which the majority are allowed to use getting better treatment.

    These display the biggest problem with the idea of separate but equal. It could theoretically be true to have groups with balanced demographics and political power and equally equipped building that are placed on every street, but this won't happen in reality. So if it is impossible in reality to segregation that is also equal, then that means that the implementation of 'separate but equal' will inherently be unequal.

  11. #11
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    Re: Separate but Equal

    Quote Originally Posted by evensaul View Post
    Gender separated public restrooms.
    Flawed example. First of all, the genders require different amenities. Second this segregation is voluntary and/or a result of the legally sound principle of Police Power of the state to facilitate public welfare, security, morality, and safety.

    Racially self-segregated housing at Cornell and UPenn.
    Flawed example. The issue of "self" segregation has nothing to do with the "Separate but Equal" debate.

    Racially segregated prison housing units.
    Flawed example. I believe these institutions are exempt from the legal rulings in question. One also would question how you would deem this situation "successful".

  12. #12
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    Re: Separate but Equal

    The question is: If they are equal, why are they seperated?
    CHANGE is what the world awaits
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    The Answer? No one knows.
    Just trusting the break of dawn.

  13. #13
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    Re: Separate but Equal

    Quote Originally Posted by YamiB. View Post
    The reason that Separate but Equal is considered inherently unequal is because separating groups into different accommodations due to their membership in groups implies that they are not equal. If they are not equal than there would not be a reason for the separation. This obviously could lead to psychological inferiority problems in separated minority groups.
    I use this to segue into my final point: that even if a feeling of inferiority is engendered by the divided groups' perspectives on the social implications of that separation, it is not equivalent to inequality. An individual's perception of social inequality because of separation is not tantamount to an inequality caused by separation. Separation into equivalent accommodation is not unequal merely because it engenders a psychology of inferiority; this is an important social question, to be sure, but not relevant to the equality or inequality of segregation.

    The biggest problem with segregation is when you look at it practically rather than theoretically. It would require ridiculously massive amount of oversight to go in an inspect the accommodations of all segregated areas, but without this we would have the same problems when we instituted segregation with unequal accommodations.
    1) Non-unique. Any public policy is subject to practical considerations of oversight and enforcement, not just segregation.
    2) Individuals can bring suits of unequal accommodation of their own accord against the enforcers of segregation policy, independent of government oversight

    Even if the aspects within a building are the same that does not make the places the same either. For example say that there are two equal schools that a family can send their children to, both have equal accommodations, one is 1 mile from their house and the other is 8 miles away. If the schools were segregated then they are not equal because one requires a greater amount of time and effort to get to.
    From Brown v. Board, decision of U.S. District Court of Kansas (which was subsequently appealed to the SCOTUS; the Supreme Court affirmed the District Court's analysis as to this basic objective parity):
    It is obvious from the fact that there are only four colored schools as against eighteen white schools in the Topeka School District, that colored children in many instances are required to travel much greater distances than they would be required to travel could they attend a white school, and are required to travel much greater distances than white children are required to travel. The evidence, however, establishes that the school district transports colored children to and from school free of charge. No such service is furnished to white children. We conclude that in the maintenance and operation of the schools there is no willful, intentional or substantial discrimination in the matters referred to above between the colored and white schools.

    There is also the problem with limited services in an area. For example say there is a small town with two-three grocery stores which are all owned by the majority and segregated so the minority cannot use them. There may be other equal grocery stores for the minority to use elsewhere in the country, but it would not be much help to them.
    See above.

    Additionally, this argument is useless against separation of accommodation for travel - as in segregated boxcars or airplane cabins - and the more trivial of services, like water fountains, which are omnipresent. Separate but equal does not rise or fall purely on the basis of schools or entire business establishments.
    [T]he allegedly inherent inequality of separate accommodations has been argued to apply beyond the scope of education to include modes of travel, restaurants, water fountains, and other services and institutions. The equality of separation does not fall on potential demerits specific to educational institutions. I will, however, argue the topic if anyone wants to challenge that particular segregationist policy.

    Another problem with segregation is that you are going to have minority and majority groups, this will be reflected in our government. Most people will not have a reason to look out for groups other than their own resulting in the segregated institutions which the majority are allowed to use getting better treatment.
    I don't see how this is unique to segregation. This is symptomatic of racism and in-group preference in general.

    Quote Originally Posted by cds69 View Post
    Flawed example.
    ...
    Flawed example.
    ...
    Flawed example.
    ...
    Can I take it by your omission of this:
    Gender separated educational institutions.
    in your rebuttal, that you do not think it to be a flawed example of "successful" segregation policy?

    Quote Originally Posted by Trendem View Post
    I agree that separation does not necessarily imply inequality. But neither does the equivalence of benefits enjoyed by the separated groups imply equality. Two groups might be separated into two spheres, each enjoying equivalent treatment and benefits; but if the separation itself is motivated by unjustified discrimination, then they would be "unequal" in a figurative sense.
    If separation does not imply inequality, why would integration imply equality?

    You seem to turn this on whether the segregation of individuals into separately accommodated groups is motivated by a social/moral/whatever inequality between those two groups. Why? Why does the attachment of feeling/belief of inequality to a particular policy constitute this "figurative inequality, rather than just the feeling/belief itself?

    Why does this figurative inequality only manifest itself at the point that it causes separation?

    To illustrate, if we separated blacks from whites into different parts of the country, with each part being equally developed and availing of opportunities, inequality still exists if the motivation for the separation is the belief that blacks are inferior and should not be allowed to corrupt the white culture and gene pool. Here the inequality stems from the prejudice and bigotry harboured by the whites, who do not see the blacks as equal human beings.
    Ok, this figurative inequality stems from the actual belief of inequality in the population, but I don't buy that segregation is suddenly more egregiously unequal. If the source of inequality is prejudice, and the prejudice remains regardless of policy enacting it, I don't see why the inequality is substantively different.

    You argue the inequality hinges on policy motivated by prejudice, even if the policy grants empirically equal accommodation to the affected groups.
    However, if the content or face-value qualities of the policy is irrelevant, and only the motivation for that policy is, it hardly makes sense that this figurative inequality wouldn't already exist before the policy. That is, the two groups would be figuratively unequal even if there were no segregation.
    Last edited by Fangrim; April 17th, 2009 at 06:28 PM.
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  14. #14
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    Re: Separate but Equal

    Quote Originally Posted by Fangrim View Post
    Can I take it by your omission of this:
    Gender separated educational institutions.
    in your rebuttal, that you do not think it to be a flawed example of "successful" segregation policy?
    I don't know enough about the issue with all-male or all-female schools to make a comment, so I omitted it.

  15. #15
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    Re: Separate but Equal

    History says you're wrong where races are concerned.

    Seperate doesn't HAVE to mean unequal. It just always has. So far.

  16. #16
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    Re: Separate but Equal

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    History says you're wrong where races are concerned.

    Seperate doesn't HAVE to mean unequal. It just always has. So far.
    No, it hasn't.

    From Brown v. Board, decision of U.S. District Court of Kansas (which was subsequently appealed to the SCOTUS; the Supreme Court affirmed the District Court's analysis as to this basic objective parity):

    We have found as a fact that the physical facilities, the curricula, courses of study, qualification of and quality of teachers, as well as other educational facilities in the two sets of schools are comparable. It is obvious that absolute equality of physical facilities is impossible of attainment in buildings that are erected at different times. So also absolute equality of subjects taught is impossible of maintenance where teachers are permitted to select books of their own choosing to use in teaching in addition to the prescribed courses of study. It is without dispute that the prescribed courses of study are identical in all of the Topeka schools and that there is no discrimination in this respect. It is also clear in the record that the educational qualifications of the teachers in the colored schools are equal to those in the white schools and that in all other respects the educational facilities and services are comparable. It is obvious from the fact that there are only four colored schools as against eighteen white schools in the Topeka School District, that colored children in many instances are required to travel much greater distances than they would be required to travel could they attend a white school, and are required to travel much greater distances than white children are required to travel. The evidence, however, establishes that the school district transports colored children to and from school free of charge. No such service is furnished to white children. We conclude that in the maintenance and operation of the schools there is no willful, intentional or substantial discrimination in the matters referred to above between the colored and white schools. In fact, while plaintiffs' attorneys have not abandoned this contention, they did not give it great emphasis in their presentation before the court. They relied primarily upon the contention that segregation in and of itself without more violates their rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.

    I've quoted this damn thing three times, but it seems no one even bothers to read the thing, let alone rebut it.
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    Re: Separate but Equal

    Quote Originally Posted by Fangrim View Post
    No, it hasn't.
    From Brown v. Board, decision of U.S. District Court of Kansas (which was subsequently appealed to the SCOTUS; the Supreme Court affirmed the District Court's analysis as to this basic objective parity):

    We have found as a fact that the physical facilities, the curricula, courses of study, qualification of and quality of teachers, as well as other educational facilities in the two sets of schools are comparable. It is obvious that absolute equality of physical facilities is impossible of attainment in buildings that are erected at different times. So also absolute equality of subjects taught is impossible of maintenance where teachers are permitted to select books of their own choosing to use in teaching in addition to the prescribed courses of study. It is without dispute that the prescribed courses of study are identical in all of the Topeka schools and that there is no discrimination in this respect. It is also clear in the record that the educational qualifications of the teachers in the colored schools are equal to those in the white schools and that in all other respects the educational facilities and services are comparable. It is obvious from the fact that there are only four colored schools as against eighteen white schools in the Topeka School District, that colored children in many instances are required to travel much greater distances than they would be required to travel could they attend a white school, and are required to travel much greater distances than white children are required to travel. The evidence, however, establishes that the school district transports colored children to and from school free of charge. No such service is furnished to white children. We conclude that in the maintenance and operation of the schools there is no willful, intentional or substantial discrimination in the matters referred to above between the colored and white schools. In fact, while plaintiffs' attorneys have not abandoned this contention, they did not give it great emphasis in their presentation before the court. They relied primarily upon the contention that segregation in and of itself without more violates their rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.
    I've quoted this damn thing three times, but it seems no one even bothers to read the thing, let alone rebut it.
    Are you sure YOU'VE read it?

    It is obvious that absolute equality of physical facilities is impossible of attainment in buildings that are erected at different times. So also absolute equality of subjects taught is impossible of maintenance where teachers are permitted to select books of their own choosing to use in teaching in addition to the prescribed courses of study.
    that colored children in many instances are required to travel much greater distances than they would be required to travel could they attend a white school, and are required to travel much greater distances than white children are required to travel.
    Maybe no one has responded to it because on its face it completely refutes your argument.

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    Re: Separate but Equal

    Quote Originally Posted by bullslawdan View Post
    Are you sure YOU'VE read it?
    Let's try this again, rebolded:
    It is obvious that absolute equality of physical facilities is impossible of attainment in buildings that are erected at different times. So also absolute equality of subjects taught is impossible of maintenance where teachers are permitted to select books of their own choosing to use in teaching in addition to the prescribed courses of study.
    Absolute equality of accommodations is impossible despite and in spite of segregation. These differences - in buildings constructed at different times, in classroom environments with differently inclined teachers - are not unique to segregation. They cannot be used in argument against it without invalidating the accommodation of anyone - even when integrated.

    As to the second, this is insubstantial given that the state can and does take effort to marginalize transportation differences by providing it for free to colored children, which it did not do for whites.

    So weighty an issue as segregation should certainly not be invalidated on so minimal a point as transportation.
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    Re: Separate but Equal

    Quote Originally Posted by Fangrim View Post
    Let's try this again, rebolded:
    It is obvious that absolute equality of physical facilities is impossible of attainment in buildings that are erected at different times. So also absolute equality of subjects taught is impossible of maintenance where teachers are permitted to select books of their own choosing to use in teaching in addition to the prescribed courses of study.
    Absolute equality of accommodations is impossible despite and in spite of segregation. These differences - in buildings constructed at different times, in classroom environments with differently inclined teachers - are not unique to segregation. They cannot be used in argument against it without invalidating the accommodation of anyone - even when integrated.
    And yet you have not addressed the fact that this means - whatever the cause - that separate will be, as the Court stated "inherently unequal."

    As to the second, this is insubstantial given that the state can and does take effort to marginalize transportation differences by providing it for free to colored children, which it did not do for whites.

    So weighty an issue as segregation should certainly not be invalidated on so minimal a point as transportation.
    As someone who used to spend over an hour a day on the school bus, I disagree.

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    Re: Separate but Equal

    Quote Originally Posted by bullslawdan View Post
    And yet you have not addressed the fact that this means - whatever the cause - that separate will be, as the Court stated "inherently unequal."
    This is meaningless. It is asinine. If separate but equal is "inherently unequal" merely because buildings are erected at different times and teachers have different educational styles, I could sue for discrimination merely because I attended one of the several schools in my district.

    It is argued that separation is inherently unequal in a sense and manner that integration overcomes or avoids. That is the very premise of the argument. That is its substance.

    To reject segregation because it is unequal in a substantively equivalent way as integration is intellectually perverse.
    ----------
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    --Richard Carnes

 

 
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