Because “bias” is in the eye of the beholder

Since SFgate reported that Judge Vaughn Walker is gay, several groups opposed to gay rights have apparently claimed that his sexual orientation constitutes a bias that should prevent him from presiding over the Federal trial over California’s Proposition 8.  Despite Walker’s long-standing reputation as an impartial judge,  Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel has said that: “Any decision favoring plaintiffs in this case will be permanently marred and universally viewed as stemming from Judge Walker’s personal biases.”

Of course, this is the same Liberty Counsel that is currently looking to hire a “religious liberty attorney” with “an unquenchable desire to be on the front lines of the culture war that is raging against America’s Christian heritage.”  Presumably, the successful candidate should also have no aspirations to a judicial career.

8 thoughts on “Because “bias” is in the eye of the beholder

  1. Based on what I recently read in an article on the “genealogies of disability” by Lisa Diedrich, one could say that underlying that “bias” claim (by the anti-gay groups) is the meta-narrative that (surprise, surprise!) being gay is a deviant/aberrant form of “normal” behavior and hence Judge Walker’s sexual orientation constitutes a bias! Of course, the implicit assumption is that since being heterosexual is normal, that doesn’t result in any bias at all! That would have been funny if some of the basic and fundamental rights of a group of people weren’t at stake.

  2. VL, nice analysis!
    This seems to me related to standpoint theory in feminist epistemology. Do you know about that? A basic idea is that the “different” outsiders/subjugated people have knowledge that is not obvious or perhaps even available to those in power. Once one sees that, the mechanisms for excluding that knowledge seem immense.

  3. jj, thanks! I would love to know more on feminist epistemology in general and standpoint theory in particular. Any books/articles/authors you might want to recommend?

  4. This is ridiculous. How is a heterosexual person somehow less biased than someone who is gay. This is especially true when we consider that the people attempting to keep same gender marriage are heterosexual, yet somehow a straight person does not have an axe to grind. T

  5. I just did a piece on implicit bias in class–an analysis of the results of the IAT test and less gimmicky tests of implicit bias. E.g. sting operations where human resources managers get identical resumes with “white-sounding” and “black-sounding” names. And, guess what: over 1/3 of gays and lesbians are biased against gays and lesbians. In fact for every disadvantaged group, a substantial minority are biased against members of their group. Through that into the pot.

  6. I don’t think that’s surprising- it’s like the Doll Test in Brown v. Board of Education. If you keep telling someone something, at some point the message starts to sink in no matter how counter intuitive it is.

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