Interracial Couple Denied Marriage License

A justice of the peace in Hammond, Louisiana has refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple.  In the last few posts here, we’ve been talking about “anti-miscegenation laws” intended to prohibit intermarriage between blacks and whites. Most of this discussion has been framed as part of a distant past influencing the present in various ways, and in fact, that history continues to live as illustrated by the story about the Louisiana justice’s decision that is lighting up the Internet tonight.  But, it’s ok, because you know, he’s “not a racist” and he’s just “concerned about the children” the couple might have. Here’s the story from Associated Press:

Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long. Neither Bardwell nor the couple immediately returned phone calls from The Associated Press. But Bardwell told the Daily Star of Hammond that he was not a racist.

“I do ceremonies for black couples right here in my house,” Bardwell said. “My main concern is for the children.”

Bardwell said he has discussed the topic with blacks and whites, along with witnessing some interracial marriages. He came to the conclusion that most of black society does not readily accept offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society, he said.

“I don’t do interracial marriages because I don’t want to put children in a situation they didn’t bring on themselves,” Bardwell said. “In my heart, I feel the children will later suffer.”

If he does an interracial marriage for one couple, he must do the same for all, he said.

“I try to treat everyone equally,” he said.

Thirty-year-old Beth Humphrey and 32-year-old Terence McKay, both of Hammond, say they will consult the U.S. Justice Department about filing a discrimination complaint.

Humphrey told the newspaper she called Bardwell on Oct. 6 to inquire about getting a marriage license signed. She says Bardwell’s wife told her that Bardwell will not sign marriage licenses for interracial couples.

“It is really astonishing and disappointing to see this come up in 2009,” said American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana attorney Katie Schwartzman. “The Supreme Court ruled as far back as 1963 that the government cannot tell people who they can and cannot marry.”

The ACLU was preparing a letter for the Louisiana Supreme Court, which oversees the state justices of the peace, asking them to investigate Bardwell and see if they can remove him from office, Schwartzman said.

“He knew he was breaking the law, but continued to do it,” Schwartzman said.

Just to review, it is legal for interracial couples to marry in the U.S. but it used to be illegal.   As I wrote about here awhile back, the case that overturned this stupidity was Loving v. Virginia decided in 1967  (there’s also a Lifetime TV movie about the case).   And, if you’d like to school yourself on the particulars of where and when interracial marriage was illegal in the U.S., check out this cool, interactive map about interracial marriage laws (h/t Nancy Netherland for this resource).

And, to further review the evidence, children of interracial marriages do not suffer in when compared to other children provided that they grow up in an environment that’s accepting of diversity and children of interracial marriages.   If children of interracial marriages encounter racism (and other structural disadvantages), then they’re more likely to experience stress, and health-related risks due to that increased stress, such as smoking and drinking. That’s a result of racism,  and yet another reason to work to end racism.  It should not be used – turning logic on its head – as a reason to perpetuate racism.  


  1. Amen!

    And hello- over 50% of heterosexual marriages end in divorce- not exactly like the odds are with anyone who marries.

    And of course, as you allude to, how about the effects of stressors wrought by racism on interracial couples and biracial kids being attributed t0, say, uh racist institutions and actions.

    Just posted on my wee silly blog about this.

  2. Barbara Saunders

    Perhaps a tangent: I am always suspicious of “for the children” arguments; they are usually merely judgments – racist, sexist, or cultural – on the parents, disguised in pseudo-scientific language. It’s trotted out against everything from divorce to women keeping their birth names.

  3. Jenni M.

    Bardwell is apparently also cited by the AP Press as saying: “I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way. . .I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom (what bold courage! – my sarcasm of course). I treat them just like everyone else.”

    Nice analysis at the end, Jessie. I’d like to add, as someone who was has been partnered in several lengthy interracial relationships, it has not been my experience that people of color are the main “gatekeepers” in attempting to keep such unions apart. Unfortunately, I don’t know if the larger data on this matter coincides with my personal experience. Nonetheless, let’s be clear that objecting to interracial relationships is most often a qualitatively different matter when comparing white responses with those of people of color – not the “equal opportunity” opposition that Bardwell would like to suggest. Research documents that whites frequently turn to the “safe” “for the sake of the children” argument in defending their opposition to interracial coupling – very ironically, use of the “children” rationale is an implicit acknowledgement that racism exists (despite the fact that similar research also documents the regularity with which many, if not most whites argue that racism does not exist today, or downplay the severity of racial oppression contemporary society).

  4. Jessie Author

    Hey folks ~ thanks for your comments. Zombie Mom – thought that story might strike a nerve. distance88 – you’re most welcome. Barbara, JenniM – yes, I’m always suspicious of the ‘for the children’ arguments. Tom – thanks for catching that typo – which I’ve corrected – my excuse is late-night posting after a long work day!

  5. @JenniM – your last point (that white ppl’s acknowledgment of racism peeks through the concern for the children) exactly expressed what left me sputteringly mad about this story.

    thanks for saying what i was too mad to say!

  6. GoodCitizen

    Hold on – someone could re-phrase this as “Public Official not forced to do what HE feels is wrong”. I personally believe that interracial marriages are perfectly fine, but come on – the guy referred the couple to another justice. A couple was not “Refused” the right to marry – just referred to another Justice! We should not be so shocked that someone has different beliefs.

  7. Mom

    They could always come to the Northeast because they would only have to be in town 3 days before the marriage certificate was applied for and of course have a witness. DAM YANKEES!:0)

  8. Kristen

    I agree wholeheartedly with your experiential observation about the qualitative difference between whites’ and blacks’ professed disapproval of interracial unions.
    Besides the fact that your point matches my own experience as well, the interviews I’ve done with elderly white people are illuminating. They tend to assume – with no evidence – that biracial children are outright rejected from “both sides,” that white and black people in general agree that it’s better if we don’t “mix” in that way.
    Seems to me that this all goes along with the long history of white people flipping their own racist ideology and projecting it onto black folks. They did it in the mayhem after Brown v. Board, for example, claiming up and down that black parents didn’t want their dear little ones in mixed-up schools or shipped off on nasty old school buses any more than white parents did.
    In doing some research on the city I’m investigating, I came across a letter to the editor by the head of the local NAACP chapter, explaining very clearly WHY some African American residents were not enthusiastic about school integration. Of course they were not the same reasons white residents opposed it. Were those white readers able to hear it? Doubtful. This is not about logic, after all, but emotional and psychological investment.

  9. Danielle

    GoodCitizen, your argument is as backwards as the day is long. I am sorry, but elected public officials should not be allowed to dictate the civil rights and lives of others based on their personal biases. Essentially this ELECTED public official is not upholding the law that allows heterosexual people to marry, despite race, class and ethnic identity. A law decided, oh, I don’t know, 42 years ago. Even that was long overdue.
    Let’s say you work as a public official in some sort of human resources capacity. Should you have the right to deny someone’s employment for some bogus personal belief about groups or individuals (insert whatever stereotyped you’d like here)? So as long as you pass the applicant’s information to someone else it’s ok?
    I know it’s not a perfect example but I just do not follow your logic.

  10. Jenni M.

    @GoodCitizen – That’s a pretty apolitical analysis – despite his lower ranking, this is a judicial officer who would have been elected or appointed to uphold the law. You are right, that this couple will be able to get married, but that’s because it is a right guaranteed by the Consitution. For the sake of extending your logic, would it be o.k. if all justices refused them because that was their belief system, and Constitution be damned?

  11. Bob

    If Bardwell is indeed pointing out that the children of a mixed race couple will suffer more than other children in the south, then he’s made a bold statement that we all need to respect. However, I’m not sure that was his intent. Regardless, he will be crucified for this.

  12. cooper

    I understand the studies, but having friends in Louisiana it’s possible the experience of those in that state might be different, or at least from what I’ve been told. The judge’s experience might bear out what he appears to have been saying, and I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    It’s hard to figure what he was thinking, though when truth be told it is quite likely that this guy wears his racism on his sleeve like a stain he doesn’t know is there.

  13. But then, cooper, given that he’s been entrusted with a official capacity of of the state — granting marriage licenses — I don’t agree with the part of your comment that says he should be “given the benefit of the doubt.” He might be a nice guy, but he’s still a racist nice guy — I don’t find it all that “hard to figure what he was thinking.”

  14. Jenni M.

    Let’s remember Jessie’s analysis in the final two paragraphs of the post – if we are to give him the “benefit of the doubt” shouldn’t the solution be addressing white racism against biracial couples and children rather than preventing the civil rights of such folks?

  15. DT

    After reading this BS article, I am truly thankful to be in California with my beautiful white wife and biracial kids! I’m really praying that we as humans get beyond judgment of an Organ called skin! The real war is and always will be in the thoughts of women and mens mind/brain.

  16. Charles

    Now that the U.S. has a black president, the biggot box is wide open. The plague of biggotry and racism will unfortunately take a strong foothold in this country once again. This is not an unexpected reaction by fearful whites of having someone non-white in charge of the country. The openly biggoted individuals in this country are only part of the problem. There are those that insidiously keep quiet about racism or deny it’s existence entirely that allow the problem to persist.

  17. @ macon and cooper – The problem with the hypothesis that his experience may bear out his analysis is that his racism will scew his experience. It’s much more likely that even limiting data to his singular experience, it still won’t bear out his conclusion. (Watching NUM3BERS right now, hence the math reference.)

    @ Charles – (a bit o.t.) As you may know, a recent report done by a Democratic research group showed that racism is not a motivating factor in the brouhaha. Of course, participants doubt Obama’s education, think he’s slick, think he’s lying, think he wants to ruin the country. Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t those all black stereotypes?

  18. Captainchaos

    Here is an interesting study (Udry JR, Li RM, Hendrickson-Smith J: Health and behavior risks of adolescents with mixed-race identity. Am J Public Health 2003, 93:1865-1870.):

    From the conclusion: “Adolescents who self-identify as more than 1 race are at higher health and behavior risks. The findings are compatible with interpreting the elevated risk of mixed race as associated with stress.”

    But notice that the authors control for age, sex, verbal IQ, grade point average, family structure (living with one or both parents), and family education. The results are also compatible with being interpreted as indicating a higher degree of autonomic nervous system abnormalities in mixed-race individuals. Stress as a result of trouble with identity formation as accounting for all the listed (in the study, see link above) behaviorial and health pathologies stretches credulity.

  19. Darin Johnson

    Three cheers for racial progress!
    Less than 50 years ago, this story would not have been newsworthy. Now you can’t find a single respectable public figure who supports the JP’s position. This is good news, people.

  20. ellen says

    @ Darin:
    What are you so cynical about Darin? Would you want justices of the peace to Decide who can and cannot marry?
    ‘You’re Latino and you’re of Irish ancestry. Nope. No can do. You’re Jewish and you’re a Methodist. Sorry. Go elsewhere. You have diabetes and you have a heart condition. These might affect your children. Sorry! Wrong justice. Don’t even think about it.’
    This man worked for the state of Louisiana which means he represents the State and legally has no right to turn people away at his discretion. What he did was discriminatory and irresponsible in the gravest extreme. Sorry Darin, but everybody won’t go back to 1950 just because you wish we were still there.

  21. Darin Johnson

    Outrage? Come on, it’s some penny-ante Justice of the Peace in some one-horse town in Louisiana. It’s not an outrage, it’s a farce. You guys are taking this guy way too seriously.
    Why not just laugh him off as a relic of an older, uglier age, drink a toast to your forebears who actually had to suffer this, and forget it. He’s like those Japanese soldiers on a South Pacific Island forty years after World War II.

  22. Nquest

    “Three cheers for racial progress!
    … This is good news, people.”

    Ignorant statement. But then, again, I’ve always found the kind of self-congratulatory nature of applauding people/country for discarding (or submerging) backward-azzed beliefs and showing basic, kindergarten level human decency a bit weird and totally over-rated and over done. I guess I was never taught to celebrate or compliment someone for doing something they are supposed to do.

    I won’t even go into the many ways some folks act like said “racial progress”, etc. are acts of kindness on the order of going out of their way to do you (i.e. non-whites) a favor…

    And since I’m talking about things I’ve always found weird… It always struck me as odd how interracial dating/marriage figured prominently in a lot of commentaries about “racial progress.” As with most things, we’d be wise to question: from whose perspective?

    I think Rich Benjamin’s study of Whitopia’s gives us reason to question Darin’s elation and premature conclusion. Clearly Bardwell isn’t in the minority when it comes to being opposed to the races being in “mixed” company.

  23. ellen says

    @ Everybody:
    Darin was being sarcastic when he said,’Three cheers for racial progress’. He sees this entire episode as another Left Wing sillification of minority rights being violated. I know you enjoy playing devil’s advocate Darin, but seldom {I’ve mentioned this before} do you state your own belief system. You’re having too much fun giggling at the beliefs of others.

  24. Mom

    Darin@ To be honest, it’s becase of people like this that I am having some difficulty. If this person is like this concerning inner racial marriage, then I am sure he has those same beliefs concerning other bigotry, regarding all people not of his own origin. etc.. So, again, I do believe the man is a little ” out dated” , BUT TOO bad. Maybe somebody needs to bring him up to date, or he needs to retire, and let some other pour soul have a job to feed their children. Ignorance is acceptable, but arrogance it not. I don’t believe this person is ignorant because of the fact that he studied the law, and there is not an excuse for his behavior. In fact, I get fined if I’m not updated, regarding, laws and ethics in my profession…And, we are warned about being ignorant regarding laws, and are punished up to $5,000, $10,000, or $15, 000. And, my job does not involve the sacred union of two people. I found this article to be very disturbing because there are a lot of people in the southern states that cause havoc in the lives of all people that are of color, or not from there ect. I’m tired of all the bullshit that I had to untangle because of people like him ,and have zero tolerance or empathy for his behavior. I think in all fairness he should lose his job, and I am certain this is not the first time he was racist towards anybody he does not seem fit to live.

  25. Darin Johnson

    Ellen, no, I’m being completely serious. The reason this episode stands out is because it is outside the bounds of decent society. As far as I can tell, everybody agrees: the JP is a joke. On the other hand, it’s not that long ago that it would NOT have been a joke, and it would not have been news, either. How is that not progress?
    Nquest, you can choose not to acknowledge progress, but the facts are what they are. If you were never taught to praise people for doing what they’re supposed to do, then I hope you never have kids. That’s just absurd.
    I am glad you brought up the point about why people are so opposed to interracial marriage. When you think about race from a genetic perspective — as a large, highly-inbred, family — it’s obvious. Genes that favor their own race will have been selected for. You’d expect racism (and every other sort of tribalism) to be the natural state of men. When you actually look around the world and note why people are actually fighting, this is usually the reason. And that’s why non-racism is worth cheering about — it’s not natural, it takes effort and will. It’s an accomplishment.
    Ellen, I think I’ve bee pretty obvious about my beliefs. Your statement that I somehow want to turn back the clock to 1950 is obtuse.
    I never said I thought the JP should have the right not to marry interracial couples. He shouldn’t. All I’m saying is that this episode is not an “outrage.” It’s the act of one off-kilter guy who as far as I can tell has absolutely no support from anyone.
    Anyway, I hope you’ll take back what you said about me.
    MOM, he probably WILL lose his job. Which is exactly what should happen. Some clown acts improperly. He gets caught. Everybody makes fun of him for being a clown and he gets fired. Where’s the outrage?

  26. ellen says

    @ Darin,
    The problem is that you are usually so contrary to everything posted here, I was under the impression your ‘three cheers’ remark was sarcastic. Ok..I stand corrected. Calm down.
    >You do have a tendency to stick your tongue out at everybody as in “Racism..schmasism..get over it.’ I don’t know why you’re suddenly so hurt when I interpret your rejoicing over anti-racism progress as ambivalent. Again, calm down.
    > Oh, and please don’t call me A Moose! LOL

  27. Mom@Darin

    MOM, he probably WILL lose his job. Which is exactly what should happen. Some clown acts improperly. He gets caught. Everybody makes fun of him for being a clown and he gets fired. Where’s the outrage?

    Re-read my post!

  28. Darin Johnson

    Ellen, does that mean you’re not going to take back your insinuation that I think the JP should be able to decide not to grant licenses to interracial couples?

  29. ellen says

    Why are So Touchy these last few days? OK. I take back my insinuation that you thought the JP should be able to discriminate on who he grants licenses to. Please relax Darin. Jeez!

  30. Darin Johnson

    Were you joking? It didn’t seem like you were joking.
    Anyway, college football season has started and my team has had some real ups and downs. Sometimes it’s hard to just KBO.

  31. ellen says

    @ Darin:
    >Keep Buggering On? Winston Churchill? Did anyone ever tell you that some of your ‘phraseology’ is a bitsy archaic? Tough life there guy…your football team is experiencing angst..I hate to say this {cause I’m another Whitey Myself} but honestly? Saying this sounds like stuff from that website Stuff White People Like. You should go’s Way Funny! Reminds me of…me! In an Embarrassing way gotta admit.
    > Example: White people like to make the most of their free time, but many of them discovered that time doing yoga was time away from their dog and time with their dog was time away from yoga.
    >It was becoming a fairly significant problem. Thankfully, Doga has been created to allow white people to combine two of their favorite things into one expensive, time consuming activity called Doga or dog yoga.
    >There really is something to this White Racial Frame meme! What a strange race. lol

  32. Darin Johnson

    Who said I’m white?! Just because I quote Winston Churchill you assume I’m white. I wonder if Jessie will write a post about this outrage.
    Some of my best friends are white people, though, and one thing I’ve noticed about “Stuff White People Like” is that it’s really more like “Stuff Canadians Like” or maybe “Stuff People from Seattle Like.” It is pretty hilarious, still. I think my favorite is Number 4 — Assists. Talk about hitting the nail on the head.
    Actually, that web site and this one make for an interesting juxtaposition. You could put on “Stuff White People Like.” But a lot of the “Stuff” highlights the absurdity of the politically correct version of how the world works. If there’s no such thing as race, then why is Number 4 so hilarious?
    Personally, I find it much easier (and more honest) to just say, “Black guys are MUCH better at basketball than white guys are.” But I bet that simple statement would cause no small amount of consternation around here — because if you acknowledge one racial difference what’s to stop you from acknowledging others? Scary!

  33. The idea that black guys are better at basketball than white guys is simply not true. As to your race, Darin, I initially thought you were black; now I’m sure you’re white. Not because of the Churchhill quotes or some of the more “no self-respecting black person would say that” things you post; I think you did opine once that in your industry, being black would be a bonus. Maybe you’re Asian or Latin? You’re obviously not black.

  34. Darin Johnson

    Instead of trying to guess my race, why not focus on my arguments?
    Distance88, you’re not seriously denying that black guys are better at basketball than white guys, are you? I assume the African countries don’t win gold medals in basketball at the Olympics because they don’t much care about basketball there. In the western African countries, where the African-American athletes I’m talking about come from, they seem to play mostly soccer.
    A more clear example of this is the Olympic 100 meters. All 32 of the finalists in the last four Olympics (as of 1999, when this was calculated) were descended from West African countries representing about 8% of the world’s population. The odds of this happening by chance are around 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 to one. This number is bigger than the distance to the farthest star measured in feet. In other words, it CANNOT happen by chance.
    We can play the same game with cornerbacks in the NFL (where foot-speed is at an absolute premium). It’s staring you right in the face. If you weren’t so worried about the political implications you’d be embarrassed to deny it.

    But please, explain to me how this is all due to white-racist framing of the Olympics or that the concept of “100 metres” was invented by a white Frenchman. I can’t wait.

  35. distance88

    “Distance88, you’re not seriously denying that black guys are better at basketball than white guys, are you?”
    Yes, I am. Your statement is ecological fallacy.

    “I assume the African countries don’t win gold medals in basketball at the Olympics because they don’t much care about basketball there”

    Yes, that’s precisely my point. The difference is not racial, it’s cultural–as basketball has become a more global sport, you see teams drafting more and more young European and Asian players. Soccer, perhaps, is even a better example since it is the arguably the most popular sport in the world.

    As far as the “sprinter” argument goes, even if you accept the whole ‘fast-twitch’ vs ‘slow-twitch’ muscle fibers and their varying distributions (the evidence isn’t so clear cut, but I’d be happy to read any references you may have on the subject), it would be silly to assume that this physical difference is associated with some genetic or racial difference. Height, weight, bone density, and body type are determined by a slew of factors that aren’t genetic or otherwise inherent to socially determined racial categories.
    Just out of curiosity, Darin, where would you put Hispanics and Asians in your athletic ability hierarchy?

  36. Darin Johnson

    You’re being obtuse. Is it purposeful, or is this really how like to talk about this?
    It’s not “Africans” who win the 100 meters, it’s a very small group of West Africans. It’s not “Asians” and “Europeans” who are drafted into the NBA, it’s Northern Chinese and Eastern Europeans, who tend to be a little taller than average. My argument is not about continents, it’s about gene pools. So I have no idea where Asians fall in my continuum of athletic ability until you tell me what you mean by “Asian” and what you mean by “athletic ability.” I have one answer if you mean Chinese pingpong players and another if you mean Vietnamese shot putters.
    But you knew that already.
    Do you not understand how hereditary factors work? Of course there is more to any one person’s footspeed (or height, IQ, personality, etc.) than his genes. However, when you’re talking about large populations, the averages can be clearly separated even though there is still considerable overlap in the distributions. That’s why I can say, “Men are taller than women,” even though we both know plenty of tall women and short men.
    Of course you already know that, too. I find that most of the people I have this debate with already knew everything I say, they just choose to pretend they don’t because they don’t like the truth as much as the fantasy.
    What on earth is an “ecological fallacy” Is that the same as a “fallacy”? I guess it’s irrelevant in this case, since what I’m saying is not false:in America blacks are wildly overrepresented in basketball at the highest levels (because they’re better) — although not at the lower levels (because they don’t like it any more).
    How about if we cut straight to the chase. You’re resisting these obvious points about athletic ability, which are right there for any fool to see, for a specific reason. You think if you admit that West African blacks sprint better because they’re West African blacks, then you’ll have to admit it’s possible that Ashkenazi Jews think better for the same reason. Admit it, your headache will probably go away the minute you do.

  37. distance88

    Darin, I’m not trying to be obtuse, I’m trying to understand what you are saying, where you are coming from.
    Just to be absolutely crystal, are West Africans, specifically, a separate ‘race’ of people that we are mistakenly calling ‘black’? Do West Africans have genetically different muscle structures?
    “However, when you’re talking about large populations, the averages can be clearly separated even though there is still considerable overlap in the distributions…”
    Well, this sort of begs the question. If the averages are so easily separated by genetic distribution as you say, then why is there still considerable overlap in the distribution? ‘Easy separations’ connote little or no overlap.
    All genetics aside, the stereotyping of athletic ability has two major negative side effects (that I can think of): (1) it subtracts from all of the hard work and dedication that it requires to be a great athlete–all of which is bypassed by Jimmy-the-Greek-style statements like “blacks just naturally run faster”; (2) all blacks who would prefer to excel in a field other than sports constantly have to fight off the misguided notion that athletics is the sole realm where they can best succeed.

  38. Darin Johnson

    Okay, I’ll take you at your word.
    Terms like “race” may or may not be helpful, I don’t know, and I’m not particularly invested in them. However, there is generally a group of people who for (probably) tens of thousands of years lived in Western Africa. They bred mostly with themselves, so over time their gene pool became slightly different from people’s in other parts of Africa and the rest of the world. They became a very large, highly inbred extended family.
    This is true all over the place. It’s why Scandanavians have blue eyes and blond hair. It’s why East Indians look the way they do, and so on. This is how evolution works: populations are isolated and over time their characteristics diverge due to randomness and due to adaptation to their environments.
    I’m not sure that these groups align all that closely with the idea of race. Persians, East Indians, and Chinese are all “Asian,” at least in one sense, but you’d have to be blind to think they’re particularly close cousins genetically speaking.
    One of the accidents of evolution appears to be that the West African group we talked about earlier can run like the wind over short distances. Maybe that’s an adaptive trait, maybe it’s an accident, I don’t know. But it is as plain as the nose on your face.
    Interestingly, as you pointed out, this footspeed advantage doesn’t show up so much with West Africans in Africa. It seems to be West Africans in North America, the Caribbean, and Northern Europe, places where the resources are available to develop the potential of a sprinter. That’s why I do not discount your point about cultural and environmental factors — they are clearly important. But the fact remains that a Norwegian kid born and raised in Jamaica will never run a 9.59-second 100 meters. It just isn’t going to happen.
    Easy separations most certainly do NOT denote little or no overlap. As I mentioned earlier, it is easy to separate the heights of men and women. Men are taller. However, there are plenty of six-foot women and five-foot-six men. The fact that tall women are taller than short men does not mean that the statement “men are taller than women” is false. It’s just means it’s a statement of statistical, not absolute, truth.
    Pretty much anything you can say about groups of humans is true only in the statistical sense, whether you’re talking about races or not. Are Democrats more liberal than Republicans? Yes, but Zel Miller is more conservative than Olympia Snow. Do Floridians live South of Alabamans? Yes, but some of Florida is north of some of Alabama. Do Mormons live in Utah? Yes, but many live elsewhere. Once you get the idea, it’s not so strange at all. What would be very strange would be if there were two groups of people who did not overlap at all in some important characteristic. After all, humans have not been separated for all that long in evolutionary terms. Our similarities outnumber our differences, physically, culturally, and intellectually. But that doesn’t mean the differences aren’t there 0r aren’t important.
    No one said hard work isn’t necessary. The vast majority of West Africans do not become Olympic sprinters, for example. But if the fact that there’s a genetic component to athletic success hurts somebody’s feelings, then that’s just tough. The facts are what they are, whether we like them or not. Jimmy the Greek did not say, “blacks run faster,” by the way. That would probably not have gotten him fired — although you never know with the PC patrols the way they are. He claimed that blacks were bred as slaves in such a way as to produce physical superiority. That’s a pretty different statement, not one I support.
    My response to your second point, that black success in (some) athletics makes people think that’s the only place they can succeed is similar: tough. First of all, I don’t think anybody actually thinks this way, and second it’s not even true: Blacks have disproportionate success in many areas. But lets say it is true, that people say because blacks are great sprinters and basketball players they can’t be stock brokers and journalists. The solution to that is not to add another lie — that blacks are NOT in fact good athletes — but to correct the first one. Don’t you think?
    Okay, I read the definition of ecological fallacy. Have you read it? Because you’re committing it. You’re suggesting that for the statement “blacks are better at basketball than whites” to be true all blacks must be better than all whites.

  39. distance88

    “You’re suggesting that for the statement “blacks are better at basketball than whites” to be true all blacks must be better than all whites.”
    No, I’m suggesting you can’t tell anything about the individual, and a lot of times groups of individuals, based upon some group average–in this case, basketball ability. If we take two men in the U.S. who have never played basketball before, one black and one white, and had them play 10, 20, or 50 games of one-on-one, are you saying that the black guy should win significantly more than the white guy?
    And it’s not safe to assume that physical differences are a necessary result of genetic differences or racial differences–you didn’t explicitly say this, but I still got that implication. Different climates and different diets can lead to different bone densities and muscle structures–cooler climates seem to produce people with shorter limbs, for instance. But these physical differences manifest over many generations–hundreds or even thousands of years–so yeah, there aren’t any Jamaican sprinters of Norwegian descent. The fact is, despite the physical differences, we all are close cousins genetically speaking. There are very few groups of people that remain genetically isolated–tribes in New Guinea might be one example. I don’t think humans are as isolated, or were as isolated, as you seem to indicate. Homo sapiens are more genetically homogeneous than any other mammal.

  40. 88, I hope you don’t feel as though I hung you out to dry or anything like that. Darin’s whole premise against racial equality is that there just might be the off chance, however minute, that there really are differences between the races. His proof includes unscientific observations about sports. Until he can come up with something better, why pretend his arguments are anything more than support of racism?

  41. Darin Johnson

    You’ve asked a great question! No, I’m not saying that if we pick one black man and one white one at random and have them play one-on-one we can expect to predict the outcome. I’m saying that if we take 1,000 black men and 1,000 white men and have them play round-robin, the black guys will win more games. Good question.
    The other implication of this is that if we take 10,000 men at random and figure out who the best basketball player is, he’s likely to be black, even though blacks are only about 10 percent of the sample. The small difference in average translates to a large difference at the extreme.
    There’s nothing to disagree with in your last paragraph. I don’t know if it’s all true (e.g., humans are more genetically homogeneous than any other mammal), but I have no reason to disagree. The point, however, is that we are not genetically identical. There are differences in populations based on where their ancestors lived. Many of those differences are irrelevant, but some are significant. Some are highly significant in terms of explaining differences in outcomes between groups.
    The important point is not whether humans are isolated now, I agree, we are mostly not isolated. The issue is that were were isolated the large majority of our recent evolutionary history. In other words, for most of the last 50,000 years, we didn’t have jet airplanes. So people who lived in, say, Central Asia tended to mate with other people from Central Asia. Over the long haul, that made people from Central Asia a genetically distinct bunch. Not a new species, or even a sub-species. Maybe not even a race, maybe just a great big family. It doesn’t matter what you call it. What matters is that on average people from Central Asia are genetically distinct from people from, say, Northern Europe.
    You are quite right that there are other factors that can affect outcomes — such as climate, diet, and culture. I assume (although I can’t prove) that these factors explain why West Africans from West Africa aren’t in the Olympic 100 meters, while West Africans from America are. Your example may not be a great one, however. The short limbs in cold climates seems like a genetic adaptation not a short-term environmental effect. If you take an Eskimo baby (Is it Politically Correct to call them Eskimos? I can’t be bothered to remember.) and raise him in Beverly Hills, he’ll still look like an Eskimo — he’ll just be wearing Abercrombie and Fitch instead of sealskin. He won’t be tall, blond, and thin like his classmates because his genes are unchanged. He might, however, be taller than he would have been otherwise, since he’ll be eating fois gras and ribeye instead of blubber. So it’s a combination, like you said.
    Another politically incorrect implication of all this is that racism is probably at least partly driven by our genes. Those genes that cause us to be biased in favor of our children, our families, and eventually our race will have a better chance of surviving than unbiased genes. (You can tell this is true if you have kids. It’s amazing how biased I can be in preference to my own children.) That’s not to excuse racism or to justify bad behavior. It’s just to point out that the vision we’re all supposed to buy into of everybody living together in color-blind harmony may never be possible. It may be that nobody really wants it.

  42. Darin Johnson

    No1Kstate, why don’t you let me make my own argument? As usual, your rebuttal boils down to calling me a racist. Yawn.
    Of course, you’re doing that not because you think it will have any effect on me (it won’t since I’m fully confident of my own logical and moral positions) but for the benefit of Distance88. You believe that if you call me a racist you’ll be giving him permission to ignore anything I say. This is not a new trick.
    The person it hurts, however, is not me. It’s Distance88, and it’s you. Rather than understanding my argument and accepting it or refuting in logically, you put your hands over your ears. The result is that, although I am fully aware of your position and its many weaknesses, you have no idea what I and people like me actually think. You have no idea whether science — real science, not the nonsense peddled by the so-called scientists on this site — supports me or not. And you have no idea how to actually debate me when the deck is not stacked in your favor.
    This isn’t to pat myself on the back. I’m sure that there are plenty of people around this site who are much smarter than I am. Who knows, maybe you are. My only advantage is that I’m not constrained by Political Correctness. That’s it, but it’s enough.
    Finally, I have no “premise against racial equality.” I believe that equality is a moral position, not a scientific one; and that it is individuals and not groups that are equal in moral terms. To say that all groups of people are “equal” in every way is absurd. To say that all Men are created Equal is very, very different. I believe the latter. The former is laughable.

  43. distance88

    “You have no idea whether science — real science, not the nonsense peddled by the so-called scientists on this site — supports me or not.”
    Don’t poison the well. Every type of science and methodology is subject to the same set of biases–financial, social, or political. If you disagree with a particular sociological study, then by all means, point out its faults; but dismissing an entire field of study out of hand seems a bit hasty, at best. I can’t speak for everyone here, but the science is what I use to form my political/social beliefs, not the other way around.
    As far as humans having an isolated past, I just don’t see it. Would you call the Roman Empire isolated? Would you say that the reign of the Mongols only extended to Central Asia? Those are tough points to make. Further, I think it’s more reasonable to believe that humans started in one geographic location (i.e. Africa) and then spread out, instead of believing that different groups of humans simultaneously sprang up all at once on several different continents.
    As far as genetics go, we’ll also just have to agree to disagree. I will leave you with a small blurb from NIH, I can’t tell if you’d consider what they do ‘real science’ or not…
    “Homo sapiens is a relatively young species and has not had as much time to accumulate genetic variation as have the vast majority of species on earth, most of which predate humans by enormous expanses of time. Nonetheless, there is considerable genetic variation in our species. The human genome comprises about 3 x 109 base pairs of DNA, and the extent of human genetic variation is such that no two humans, save identical twins, ever have been or will be genetically identical. Between any two humans, the amount of genetic variation—biochemical individuality—is about 0.1 percent. This means that about one base pair out of every 1,000 will be different between any two individuals. Any two (diploid) people have about 6 x 106 base pairs that are different, an important reason for the development of automated procedures to analyze genetic variation.
    The most common polymorphisms (or genetic differences) in the human genome are single base-pair differences. Scientists call these differences SNPs, for single-nucleotide polymorphisms. When two different haploid genomes are compared, SNPs occur, on average, about every 1,000 bases. Other types of polymorphisms—for example, differences in copy number, insertions, deletions, duplications, and rearrangements—also occur, but much less frequently.
    Notwithstanding the genetic differences between individuals, all humans have a great deal of their genetic information in common. These similarities help define us as a species. Furthermore, genetic variation around the world is distributed in a rather continuous manner; there are no sharp, discontinuous boundaries between human population groups. In fact, research results consistently demonstrate that about 85 percent of all human genetic variation exists within human populations, whereas about only 15 percent of variation exists between populations . That is, research reveals that Homo sapiens is one continuously variable, inter-breeding species. Ongoing investigation of human genetic variation has even led biologists and physical anthropologists to rethink traditional notions of human racial groups. The amount of genetic variation between these traditional classifications actually falls below the level that taxonomists use to designate subspecies, the taxonomic category for other species that corresponds to the designation of race in Homo sapiens. This finding has caused some biologists to call the validity of race as a biological construct into serious question.
    Analysis of human genetic variation also confirms that humans share much of their genetic information with the rest of the natural world—an indication of the relatedness of all life by descent with modification from common ancestors. The highly conserved nature of many genetic regions across considerable evolutionary distance is especially obvious in genes related to development. For example, mutations in the patched gene produce developmental abnormalities in Drosophila, and mutations in the patched homolog in humans produce analogous structural deformities in the developing human embryo.
    What Is the Significance of Human Genetic Variation?
    Almost all human genetic variation is relatively insignificant biologically— that is, it has no apparent adaptive significance. Some variation (for example, a neutral mutation) alters the amino acid sequence of the resulting protein but produces no detectable change in its function. Other variation (for example, a silent mutation) does not even change the amino acid sequence. Furthermore, only a small percentage of the DNA sequences in the human genome is coding sequences (sequences that are ultimately translated into protein) or regulatory sequences (sequences that can influence the level, timing, and tissue specificity of gene expression). Differences that occur elsewhere in the DNA—in the vast majority of the DNA that has no known function—have no impact.
    The whole article is here

    Point well taken. My new approach to opposing viewpoints in Internet comment sections is to try to contain myself and bite my tongue 90% of the time (it usually only works out to about 50-60% tho); the rest of the time is just venting, I guess, even if it is just a waste of breath.

  44. Darin Johnson

    Distance88, the Roman empire ended 1,500 years ago. That’s not long in the evolutionary history of humans. As a point of reference, modern humans left Africa around 50,000 years ago. All the variation in non-African humans has occurred since then, and for most of that period there was little or no interaction across long distances.
    (I’d be willing to bet that even in the Roman Empire, the large majority of children were born to parents who were born within, say, 50 miles of each other. In fact, I bet that’s true even today. In other words, I doubt there’s as much mixing as you might think.)
    I read the excerpt you gave from NIH. Nothing, not a single word, contradicts what I’ve said. I hope you’ll take that statement seriously before you agree to disagree.
    I do not say lightly that what goes on around here is not science. It’s advocacy.

  45. distance88

    Darin, you said, “Some (genetic differences) are highly significant in terms of explaining differences in outcomes between groups.”
    NIH said, “Almost all human genetic variation is relatively insignificant biologically— that is, it has no apparent adaptive significance…Differences that occur elsewhere in the DNA—in the vast majority of the DNA that has no known function—have no impact.”
    You said, “So people who lived in, say, Central Asia tended to mate with other people from Central Asia. Over the long haul, that made people from Central Asia a genetically distinct bunch” and “Persians, East Indians, and Chinese are all “Asian,” at least in one sense, but you’d have to be blind to think they’re particularly close cousins genetically speaking.”
    NIH said, “all humans have a great deal of their genetic information in common… genetic variation around the world is distributed in a rather continuous manner; there are no sharp, discontinuous boundaries between human population groups. In fact, research results consistently demonstrate that about 85 percent of all human genetic variation exists within human populations, whereas about only 15 percent of variation exists between populations . That is, research reveals that Homo sapiens is one continuously variable, inter-breeding species.”
    These sure seem like examples of contradiction to me, but I’d be willing to soften my stance and say that they ‘don’t support’ the points you make.

  46. Darin Johnson

    You’re definitely paying attention. I’m impressed. Let’s tackle these one at a time.
    First — Significance of Variations in Genes
    NIH is quite right that most genetic variation is insignificant. The reason is that most genes have literally no effect on how you are built or how you operate. They are genetic dead-weight. Since these genes are in the majority, most mutations will occur in them, and thus have no effect. Furthermore, since these mutations don’t affect the “person,” they have no adaptive benefit. (Perhaps somebody with a stronger background in biology can explain this better.) Hopefully you can see how this does not contradict my argument at all.
    Second — Variations in Genes Among Humans
    The statement that humans share the majority of their genes is true, but not particularly helpful for our conversation. Humans share the majority of their genes with chimps, too, but you wouldn’t confuse a human with a chimpanzee. Of course, the reason humans genes are close is that humans are all part of the same species; and the reason our genes are close to chimps’ is that we’re genetically close to chimps — closer than to, say, fruit flies. So genetic closeness is relative. We’re close to chimps compared to dogs, but not close to chimps compared to other humans.
    Even when intra-group variation is larger than inter-group, the difference between the groups can still be significant.
    You should not confuse the percentage of genes that are shared with what we’re talking about: whether there are meaningful differences between groups of people based at least in part on genes. Even if only one gene out of millions were different, that may be all it takes. We’re interested in a tiny number of mutations; only those that affect the person, and only those whose effects are meaningful.
    Third – Continuously Variable Population
    Again, this is true, but not important. Picture your 128-crayon box from first grade. It could be a little difficult to tell exactly when you moved from the blues to the greens, but nobody ever confused goldenrod with burnt sienna. Furthermore, you can make statements about the crayons such as, “The reds are to the left of the blues.” Sure it’s possible that barn red is actually to the right of plum, but the general point is still valid. It’s probabilistically true, not absolutely true.

  47. Sorry, Darin. Didn’t realize you had more to say. But it’s hard to refute what’s not there. I’ve engaged you before. I guess a person could argue you have a certain kind logic. But you ignore points that nullify your logic or responde with suppositions and conjecture. There is absolutely no scientific basis for the notion that there’s any difference between “races.” I know that for a fact. So don’t think of me as ignoring you. Think of me as being more responsible with my time. Besides, you used to ignore me, right?

  48. Darin Johnson

    Well, I guess we’ll let anyone who’s interested judge for himself who’s using “supposition and conjecture” and who’s using facts. I don’t think there’s much question about it, but I don’t expect to convince you. You’ve got your mind made up already.
    I don’t think I’ve complained about you ignoring me.

  49. Mom @ Darin

    The person it hurts, however, is not me. It’s Darin said: Distance88, and it’s you. Rather than understanding my argument and accepting it or refuting in logically, you put your hands over your ears. The result is that, although I am fully aware of your position and its many weaknesses, you have no idea what I and people like me actually think. You have no idea whether science — real science, not the nonsense peddled by the so-called scientists on this site — supports me or not. And you have no idea how to actually debate me when the deck is not stacked in your favor.


    @Darin0 LOL Understanding your argument or refuting it logically? LOL More like listen too me and accept what I’m telling you is law. Darin, apparently, somebody differs with your opinion. The only time that we attack another person’s credibility is when our ego in under attack. Maybe there’s a little truth in what everybody is saying, but to out and out tell people that their field of study is BS is like saying they are full of BS.. That’s not very nice and to be completely honest, I have enjoyed everybody’s comments, except the “meanies”, and your personal attacks are a sign of weakness on your part. Play nice:)

  50. ellen says

    @ Darin:
    >I agree that Sociology and Psychology aren’t exact sciences like physics or chemistry. However, this does not mean that these fields of study are invalid. It simply means these fields are more dynamic and fluid than math or that new information is constantly changing the landscape. In fact, new information is Constantly changing the numerous fields of this holds doubly true for Sociology. Again, not a basis for dismissing its studies.
    > That said, I don’t think Most People would have a problem with what constitutes Being a Racist. If you claim to know what a person will do {without even meeting them} based on his race..that’s racism. Racism is total denial of the individual’s worth or feelings or belief system or abilities. It’s treating them as A Foregone Conclusion.
    > Additionally, no studies I’ve ever read have proven that human races differ in any other capacity except appearance. The precepts you are positing are your individual hypothetical musings. If this…then maybe that? If that…then why not this?
    >Nice to cogitate over, but not really any scientific basis for. It’s like the UFO phenomena. Show me ET’s phone and I’ll believe. Otherwise we can just ruminate til the proverbial cows come home.

  51. Darin Johnson

    Ellen, I agree that sociology and psychology can be treated scientifically — along with other “soft” fields such as economics, political science, anthropology, and so on. My problem isn’t with the field per se, it’s with the way sociology is practiced or at least presented here. What we see, other than strained discussions about confronting black teenage vandals, is a whole bunch of disparate impact studies that fail to account for politically-incorrect but relevant parameters. The reason, of course, is that when you’re a “white ally” it won’t do to find that racism is not a powerful explainer of differences in outcomes between races.
    If you’ve never read as study suggesting that races differ in ways other than appearance, then you’re reading very, very selectively.
    Actually, this is a little exasperating. I’ve written paragraphs about the biology, anthropology, and economics relevant to the discussion. I’m far from an expert, but I know the basic facts. All I get in response is a bunch of people, including you, Ellen, saying, “That’s your opinion.” No it’s not.
    Actually, I’ve done my best to present my point based on logic, not preponderance of evidence. The reason should be obvious: if I’m wrong, any of you can presumably identify the flaws in my logic and point them out, without knowing a great deal about evolutionary biology for example. I’m still waiting. I know Distance88 is “agreeing to disagree,” although other than my conclusions I don’t know what he disagrees with. No1KState seems to mostly be having a one-man argument. Even you are telling me I’m just musing.
    I don’t know. Sometimes it’s enough to make me think I’ve chosen the wrong line of work. Maybe I’ll go back to pro basketball. Less aggravation. Besides, there’s not as much money in this as you might think.


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