Thursday, June 07, 2007

FRC Comes Out In Favor of Southwick

I'm hoping to interview someone at the Family Research Council this summer, as part of an article I'm writing for a college publication on conservative organizations in America. The FRC, I'm sure, would argue that predominantly liberal colleges, who get their news from the liberal MSM, don't get a fair portrayal of groups such as theirs. Which is why I want to give them an opportunity to voice their own positions in their own words.

One thing that I, personally, am curious about, is if there is any policy, law, action, or nominee that they would oppose from the left. I don't mean to say that the FRC is infinitely conservative--I'm sure there are things that are right-wing enough that they would not support them. But I have scarcely seen them publicly come out against (rather than, perhaps, privately withhold support from) a politicallly salient policy or action. Their statement on the judicial nomination of Leslie Southwick is a key case in point. Southwick is, shall we say, controversial for some of the positions he's taken as a judge. The FRC characterizes the furor thusly:
However, these last few months have allowed groups like the pro-homosexual Human Rights Campaign (HRC) the time they needed to comb through Southwick's 7,000 rulings for anything remotely incriminating. So far, they have only produced two weak examples of so-called "intolerance." One was a case in which Southwick voted to give the custody of a child to her father rather than her lesbian mother because of the mom's conduct.

They don't mention what the other is. My guess, however, is that the other "weak example" refers to this case, where Judge Southwick joined an opinion holding that calling someone a "good ole nigger" was not a racial slur, and that by firing someone for making it, the state Department of Human Services was acting in an "arbitrary or capricious" manner. It's difficult to imagine a more extreme position. And yet the FRC thinks the folks opposing Southwick's nomination are engaging in a "witch hunt"? Spare me.


PG said...

I imagine the theory behind the decision was that the woman who made the "good ole nigger" comment did not consciously intend to insult the person whom she so described. It's hard to believe, but I can imagine a southern white woman who in 1994 thought she could refer to someone as a nigger without its automatically being perceived as an insult. The fact portion of the MS Supreme Court opinion says, "Varrie Richmond [the African American co-worker] informed Bonnie Richmond that she thought that the word was
derogatory and that she did not appreciate being referred to in that manner. Bonnie Richmond [the eventually fired white woman] apologized to Varrie Richmond and told her that she did not mean it in a derogatory manner."

It was perfectly legitimate for the Department of Human Services to fire Bonnie Richmond, but based on the facts as stated in the opinion, I don't think it was *necessary* for them to do so (that is, it's not on the level of a harassment situation where I would think Varrie Richmond justified in suing DHS for *not* firing Bonnie Richmond). Therefore Southwick's opinion was wrong to void DHS's firing on the basis that it was "arbitrary and capricious." An employee who deals with racially diverse co-workers and clients yet who is insensitive to their concerns is an appropriate person to be dismissed from that job. I would, however, be wary of painting Bonnie Richmond as practically a KKK member; she seems to be a white supremacist in the bell hooks meaning of the term, but not a conscious and deliberate racist.

Mark said...

On FRC, if you want interviewee suggestions, the Charmine Yoest blogs at Reasoned Audacity and Joe Carter blogs at Evangelical Outpost.