Justitia, Old Bridge of Heidelberg

Justitia, Old Bridge of Heidelberg
Justitia, Old Bridge of Heidelberg © Gernot Keller, 2007
Blinkered Justice articles also appear on CrimeTalk and Government In The Lab

Friday, 20 May 2011

Evolutionary thinking

As yesterday’s international news events piped through my google reader, a recurring notion and old friend appeared in amongst them; power.

The No. 1 story du jour, at least this morning, was the Dominique Strauss-Khan (DSK) bail hearing application. Without wishing to going into any further detail on this matter (Catherine Tsalikis covered it eloquently on The Pryer a few days ago), I have noticed how the media make a particular point of mentioning the alleged victim’s nationality. As a Guinean, we are led to assume that, racially and ethnically, she is a black African.  Why does this matter?

A story on a Dr Satoshi Kanazawa caught my eye next. In his blog on Psychology Today, since removed, Kanazawa proclaimed black women were less physically attractive, and intelligent, than women of other ethnicities. If you really want to read the rather odd treatise, a copy of it can be found here. Kanazawa is an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics (LSE). No mention of Kanazawa’s race here. Why not?

Speaking to The Guardian, Amena Amer, the incoming LSE students' union education officer, stated:

"We support free speech and academic freedom, but Kanazawa's research fuels hate against ethnic and religious minorities promoted by neo-Nazi groups. Not only does he use the LSE's credentials to legitimise his 'research' but this jeopardises the academic credibility of the LSE."

Although somewhat tarnished given recent events, LSE’s status and Kanazawa’s attachment to it add lustre to his academic status. It makes him appear more eminent. This is a dangerous position for him to hold.

Amena Amer’s words resonate with the DSK story. Both stories are about power, and the power to abuse. But equally, they are about the power of the media to inform, and not inform, and the effect that this has on racial stereotyping. 
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