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    Color-Blind Justice

    roberts_scales.jpgQuote:  “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”  Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts

    Figure of Speech:  antistasis (an-TIS-stah-sis), the repeat that changes meaning. From the Greek, meaning “opposite stance.”

    In yet another 5-4 decision, the Supremes ruled that quotas cannot be used as a factor to increase racial diversity in schools.  Chief Justice Roberts, the court’s reigning master of figures, uses a powerful antistasis to support his side.  The figure repeats a word, phrase or clause in a way that transforms the meaning.

    If you want to stop discrimination — meaning the historically unfair treatment of racial minorities — then stop discriminating.  But in this second clause, discrimination suddenly becomes something very different.  It’s not discrimination against minorities but for them.  Roberts cleverly uses Americans’ belief that discrimination is bad to make a case against racial quotas.

    Is that an undiscriminating use of “discrimination”?  Perhaps.  But it more than meets Figaro’s daily figures quota.

    Snappy Answer:  “So the best way to help minorities is to stop helping minorities?”

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    Reader Comments (4)

    How would that differ from a circular definition? or a tautology?

    July 3, 2007 | Registered CommenterFigaro
    What makes Roberts' figure an antistasis rather than a tautology is his differing uses of "discrimination." It's the same word, but two meanings: The best way to stop discrimination against minorities is to stop discrimination for them.

    July 3, 2007 | Registered CommenterFigaro
    I heard a "logic looping" figure about racism before:

    1. I'm racist against racists.

    I've also heard:

    2. I'm racist against magentas.

    Like they hate people who have magenta-colored skin, which doesn't even exist (I think). I was wondering how, especially number 1, would fit into either today's figure or some other figure.

    July 3, 2007 | Registered CommenterFigaro
    No. 1 is a paradox, and a nonsensical one, since racists don't constitute a single race. Not sure I understand No. 2. Hating something that doesn't exist? That's a fallacy of fact.

    July 3, 2007 | Registered CommenterFigaro

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