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August 25, 2014


Socialism In One Bedroom

"We all know men who pretend to be feminists and yet treat women abominably"

That doesn't necessarily translate into sexism and is probably a derivative form even when it does.

I think contrasting words vs actions and actions vs words is the wrong way to address a topic with so many 'cultural', 'economic', aspects.

Even when black actors find work in another land, they often take up roles re-enforcing stereotypes, and alas contribute to the problem!

But these are symptoms to something deeper, or at least part of a much much bigger totality.

john b

Isn't there a gigantic class/education thing here?

Sexist and racist men who are educated and culturally aware know that racist slurs are frowned upon and will do them harm, whereas sexist and racist men who aren't are far less likely to do so.


On actors, and speaking from ignorance, is a big problem that so many dramas are set in old and/or unrepresentative rural settings? Ie it's quite difficult to get a non- white extra into Downton or Midsommer murders, but an all white Eastenders is silly. (I accept that the fact that tripe like Downton is popular may tell us something.)


John B, yes, and there's something a bit fishy about how those texts came to light - not to excuse them, but it's contempt of court to release stuff disclosed in the course of litigation for other purposes. It was originally a squabble over dismissal/dodgy transfers. I am of course sure that the release of this stuff was entirely public spirited and had nothing to do with the desire to make him drop an unfair dismissal claim.

Churm Rincewind

It may well be that some black British actors "have felt the need to leave the UK to pursue their careers for want of good jobs here". Unfortunately this tells us nothing. The same is true for all British actors. The only lesson to be learned here is that the US TV and film industries are gigantic compared to their British equivalents and therefore by definition offer more opportunities (and more money) than those available in the UK.

So what? As far as the UK is concerned, the ethnicity of actors broadly reflects the ethnicity of modern Britain, with the sole exception of Asians - 7% of the population but only 2.7% of actors.

Certainly there's an under-representation of the BAME communities in the creative industries overall, and it may be that the overall output of the UK creative industries by way of subject matter doesn't adequately reflect BAME concerns, but these are different questions.

Ralph Musgrave

A bit off topic this, but I do like the Oxford Dictionary online definition of racism. It’s a straw man definition. It goes: “The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.”

I doubt there’s a single person in the country who thinks that “all members” of a given race have any given characteristic. That is, everyone (including the mentally retarded) has worked out that there are for example intelligent Orientals and stupid Orientals. Plus there are honest Orientals and dishonest ones.

In contrast, there DEFINITELY ARE reasonable grounds for thinking that members of specific races TEND TO HAVE specific characteristics. E.g. some psychologists claim different races have different average IQs.


Raplh said,

"E.g. some psychologists claim different races have different average IQs."

Erm, you are using as an example to prove your definite point something which only SOME psychologists claim but in reality most don't!

You should have had the word "some" in capitals font 46 and the words "DEFINITELY ARE" in lower case font 2.

Given that you are a DEFAULT RACIST I am not suprised you go with the SOME psychologists and claim this makes a definite truth!

Ralph Musgrave


Can you read? If so, then re-read by above comment. I didn’t say, as you imply, that some races DEFINITELY have higher IQs than others. I said there are “reasonable grounds” for thinking that.

I’d rather be racist than dumb.

In fact psychologists have found IQ differences even between racially very similar groups, e.g. between citizens of different European countries. Which is all the more reason for thinking there are differences between different races.

An while on the subject of racism, what exactly is wrong with racism, if by that word one means believing there is some sort of objective evidence (e.g. IQ tests) which show there are differences between difference races?


Some very marginal scientists, whose views are very controversial among most scientists, make claims that some races are inferior to others in things such as IQ and more besides incidentally.

However the large majority of scientists reject what these mavericks claim.

Therefore, there DEFINITELY ARE reasonable grounds for thinking that members of specific races TEND NOT TO HAVE specific characteristics and it is therefore DEFINITELY WRONG to think you have reasonable grounds to assume otherwise.

But whatever the matter, there are DEFINITE grounds to believe you are pushing your RACIST agenda yet again.


I notice that in one of the email exchanges someone was referred to as a 'gay snake' The bizarreness of this insult aside, isn't it interesting that the word 'gay' was used and not an offensive slang alternative?


«cut-throat competition and as Gary Becker famously said this compels managers to act non-racist regardless of their private beliefs»

Becker's famous argument as you say only applies when there is great competition *by employers*, that is when there is less talent available to employers than it can be employed.

If the supply of talent to employers exceeds their requirements, then they can discriminate without any competitive disadvantage.

An example usually helps:

* there are two companies, each wanting to hire 100 people, of which 90 "bulk headcount" and 10 "talented managers" paid 10 times as much as each "bulk headcount";

* there are 200 potential employees, of which 100 "black" and 100 "white";

* of the total 200 potential employees, 30 black and 20 white employees have whatever qualifications the employers think satisfy their "talented manager" criteria.

Then *both* companies can hire 10 "white" "talented managers" and discriminate against all "black" applicants, hiring all "black" applicants as "bulk headcount", without suffering any disadvantage, either absolute or relative.

Indeed as to relative issues, one company can hire 10 "white" "talented managers" and the other can hire 10 "black" "talented managers" each of them discriminating completely against a different category, neither of them suffering any disadvantage.

Note also that in both cases above hiring has been "meritocratically" fair even if both employers have fully discriminatory hiring: in each case all the people hired as "talented managers" do indeed have the qualities required for the position, even if they are not at all distributed in the same way as the applicants.

In a "statistically" fair situation each company would hire 6 "black" and 4 "white" "talented managers" reflecting the distribution of qualified applicants.

Becker's argument applies therefore only in the special case where both these conditions hold:

* The same number or fewer applicants to jobs have the qualities required for the "better" jobs.

* The number of applicants that have those qualities is uniformly or (better) distributed among preferred and less preferred categories.

So for example it applies when of the 200 applicants only 20 are qualified for "talented manager" jobs, and 11 are "black" and 9 are "white"; so if one of the two employers discriminates against "black" applicants they will not be able to cover all their "talented manager" positions with qualified "white" applications and thus will be at a disadvantage to the company that does not discriminate against "black" applicants.

So unless there is as ChrisD' says "cut-throat competition" among employers for workers then Becker's argument does not apply.

The above is both obvious and undisputable, and Becker's argument, when presented as usually done without the qualification that it applies only in rare special cases, becomes just an excuse for doing nothing about discrimination.

BTW in the above "black", "white", "talented manager" can be substituted with other words, like "from a comprehensive", "independent sector educated", "accepted at a top-5 university".


To summarize: Becker's argument is in essence that if an employer discriminates against "black" applicants it wastes the potentially available talents in the "black" category.

But that only matters if there is insufficient "talent" in the "white" category.

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