Sunday, July 12, 2009

Setting The Record Straight on Frank Ricci

A reader made this comment concerning my post yesterday about New Haven firefighter Frank Ricci who is scheduled to testify at Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill this week:

Ricci was hired by the dept based on a special accomodation (sic) for his learning disability. I hope he doesn't need extra time to fight the fire at my house.

Cute. Make fun of a person with disabilities. How progressive and enlightened. Well, that's liberal tolerance for you.

The reader is referring to a lawsuit filed by Ricci in 1995 against the City of New Haven. Ricci alleged he was denied employment with the New Haven Fire Department because he disclosed his learning disability during a job interview. He would eventually be hired in exchange for dropping the lawsuit.

Brian Beutler writes on the liberal blog Talking Points Memo:

If you were Frank Ricci, you might say something like, "Frank Ricci got a job and somebody who wasn't dyslexic didn't." Remember, this is the same Frank Ricci who took his reverse discrimination suit all the way to the Supreme Court, where lower court rulings against him--including one by Sotomayor's Second Circuit--were overturned.

Ricci will testify against Sotomayor
before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week--this despite the fact that his views on jurisprudence seem to begin and end with the proposition that legal protections against discrimination are great when they work in his favor, and unconscionable when they don't.

Beutler misses the point. Ricci is being remarkably consistent in that he is arguing that discrimination is discrimination. The term reverse discrimination seems to imply that some groups are supposed to be discriminated against namely white males. So is Beutler suggesting that Mr. Ricci be prohibited from filing more than one discrimination lawsuit in his lifetime? Isn't it possible both lawsuits had merit? If a person genuinely believes they have been discriminated against on more than occasion why should they prohibited from seeking a legal remedy? Somehow I don't think Beutler would object to an African-American filing multiple discrimination lawsuits. Unless, of course, that African-American were a conservative.

The fact is that in preparing for these promtional tests, Ricci paid a friend $1,000 to read textbooks onto audio tapes as well as made flash cards, took practice tests, participated in mock interviews and in a study group. Liberals might choose to see Frank Ricci as a malingerer and a malcontent. I and other conservatives choose to see Frank Ricci as a person who worked diligently for his dream, earned it only to have it unjustly taken from him.

Frank Ricci isn't testifying on Capitol Hill as a legal or constitutional expert. President Obama appointed Sotomayor to the Supreme Court because of her "empathy." So where was Sotomayor's empathy where it concerned Frank Ricci and the other firefighters in New Haven? If empathy is now a qualification to be a Supreme Court Justice it would certainly be fair to ask Sotomayor why it was absent in this matter.

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