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The Attack on Frank Ricci

firefighter Frank Ricci

The liberal advocacy group "People for the American Way" has mounted what appears a first wave of attack on New Haven firefighter Frank Ricci by calling his past employment experiences a "troubled and litigious work history."  Apparently, Ricci had filed a lawsuit in 1995 for discrimination because he was dyslexic.  During the same time period, Ricci was discharged from the Middletown Fire Department, for what he claimed, were safety concerns he had initially raised.  Ultimately, the Middletown Fire Department was fined for those safety violations, so the legitimacy of Ricci's complaint cannot be questioned.

Part of the problem is that liberal advocacy groups like "People for the American Way" have intentionally created a diversion known in debate as a "ad hominem".  The Latin term Ad hominem literally translates into "at the man".  In logic, ad hominem is a fallacy since it redirects attention to the person making an argument rather than focusing on the argument.  Below is an example of ad hominem:

1. Doctor Frank told me that smoking is bad for my health.

2. Doctor Frank is a smoker himself.

Therefore, Doctor Frank is a hypocrite and his advice about smoking shouldn't be accepted.

The argument above seeks to discredit the doctor, rather than challenge the truthfulness of his advice.  In a similar vein, People for the American Way are fearful about Frank Ricci testifying for one important reason.  Ricci has a learning disability called dyslexia.  Because of his deficit, he invested over $1,000 in preparation to pass his promotional exam.  He had his family read and record audio clips of his study material so he could learn by listening.  And because of his diligence and hard work, he scored high enough on his exam to qualify for a promotion.  His personal narrative is a powerful illustration of how certain judicial philosophies can even smite the handicapped as well as the minority.

What's Next - an Attack on Ben Vargas

In the case of Frank Ricci, he may be called a "serial litigant", but labels do not detract from the point that the Supreme Court legitimized his complaint when it sided with him and Ben Vargas.  It's implicit, therefore, that some liberal advocacy groups are concerned that the testimony of Ricci might have a particularly damaging effect on Sotomayor during the Senate hearing.  And although this may be true to some extent, they should be more concerned with the testimony of Ben Vargas.

The Potential Aftermath of Ben Vargas 

Ben Vargas, a Latino Firefighter from New Haven, was inexcusably denied his promotion by Sonia Sotomayor and her colleagues.  He studied harder and sacrificed more than any Latino on the fire department; so when he heard that New Haven didn't certify the test because they had feared a disparate impact lawsuit, he was ready to quit his job and leave the city of which he was born.  He did not want his kids to live in a place where those who worked hard were penalized and those who made excuses were rewarded. 

Like Sonia Sotomayor, Ben Vargas is of a Puerto Rican stock, but Vargas does not believe that his ethnic experiences provide him the ability to make better judgments than anyone else.  The views of Vargas are in line with traditional Hispanic culture, Sotomayor's is not.  Hispanics are a proud people.  They do not want handouts nor do they want to feel pitied like they have an ethnic handicap.  They are willing to work hard for very little if they have to.  Therefore, showing them a favoritism not granted to other groups is seen as a sign of disrespect.  These liberal advocacy groups ought to fear Vargas, not Ricci.  Vargas is the voice of the traditional Hispanic community and that is much more dangerous to liberalism than Frank Ricci.         

Comments (4)
  • Alejandro Moreno  - Ricci has also benefited from anti discrimination

    You're missing 2 important points here. Ricci has directly benefited from lawsuits that use anti discrimination statutes, that which the conservative anti affirmative action right is using him as a poster boy against. Bad choice.

    You then talk about how Vargas did not want to live in a town where those who made excuses were rewarded. The type of lawsuit Ricci filed at 20 years of age is precisely the kind of lawsuit that conservatives hate and rail against vehemently, where "excuses" are made for not getting hired, instead of accepting the results of competition.

    You also say that Vargas, unlike Sotomayor, does not believe that his ethnic experiences provide him the ability to make better judgments than anyone else. What you're missing here is context. You, like the rest of the conservative pundits, have taken one sentence and hammered away at it without looking at the context, and context is everything. A successful surge in Afghanistan is totally different from a successful surge on Wall St. So look at the entire paragraph and speech by Sotomayor where she made that statement, and stop focusing your myopic vision on one sentence taken out of context. You owe more to your readers and to the Hispanic community, so do us the service of having a more complete vision in your analysis, and not just sound bites. It would make you sound and look more intelligent too.

    Or are your arguments so weak that this is all you have to stand on? The horse is long dead, yet you keep beating it. Get a clue.

    You do not speak for the Hispanic community, nor do I, nor does Sotomayor. However, the majority of the Hispanic community did vote for Obama, did not vote for McCain, and votes democratically. I'm sure you get the point. Then again...


  • Jason Crye

    "You're missing 2 important points here. Ricci has directly benefited from lawsuits that use anti discrimination statutes, that which the conservative anti affirmative action right is using him as a poster boy against. Bad choice."

    This is a red herring. It's not relevant if Ricci benefited from the lawsuits, nor it is relevant how the "right" is involved.

    "You then talk about how Vargas did not want to live in a town where those who made excuses were rewarded. The type of lawsuit Ricci filed at 20 years of age is precisely the kind of lawsuit that conservatives hate and rail against vehemently, where "excuses" are made for not getting hired, instead of accepting the results of competition."

    You are oversimplifying the suit. Even if Ricci had filed a dozen different lawsuits before the New Haven case, it has no relevance to Ricci v DeStefano, especially since Ricci is winning the cases. Rather, it suggests that Ricci is right and knows how to pick his battles.

    "You also say that Vargas, unlike Sotomayor, does not believe that his ethnic experiences provide him the ability to make better judgments than anyone else. What you're missing here is context. You, like the rest of the conservative pundits, have taken one sentence and hammered away at it without looking at the context, and context is everything."

    The same "out of context" response was given to conservatives when they criticized Rev. Wright's hate speech from the pulpit. Sotomayor's comments, unfortunately for her, don't leave much room for diverse interpretation. I've heard a few different takes on it, some of which were better than the explanation she offered at the Senate hearing the other day. Are you sure you to defend it?

    "So look at the entire paragraph and speech by Sotomayor where she made that statement, and stop focusing your myopic vision on one sentence taken out of context. You owe more to your readers and to the Hispanic community, so do us the service of having a more complete vision in your analysis, and not just sound bites. "

    I've read the entire speech, just like I've listened to Wright's entire sermons. I am not in the habit of publishing a criticism of something I haven't read. Would you care to provide your interpretation of what she meant? My take on her statement is that wise Latinas are more capable of making better conclusions, because of their diverse experiences, than white males. Perhaps you can explain how this interpretation is faulty?

    "You do not speak for the Hispanic community, nor do I, nor does Sotomayor. However, the majority of the Hispanic community did vote for Obama, did not vote for McCain, and votes democratically. I'm sure you get the point. Then again..."

    You're right. I don't speak for the Hispanic community. However, I know the Hispanic culture. Hispanic culture is socially conservative; The Hispanic community is predominantly Roman Catholic, pro-life, and pro-traditional marriage. They are a proud people that don't want special handouts. The reason the Hispanic community votes Democrat election after election is not monolithic. And therefore, the Democrat party does not have a single, deep-rooted clinch on our community. If Republicans could ever learn to court the Hispanic community (just a little), the Democrat party will lose a significant voting bloc.

  • SR

    I am of Hispanic enthnicity and we are proud and traditionally conservative, but very taken for granted and used. Everyone wants to prostitute our votes with empty promises then claim victories with made up numbers. When you take only those Hispanic votes that are legally cast in American elections we vote conservative, not liberal. Those claiming we voted liberal will find the opposite once the illegals and fraudulent registrations are weeded out. We want family, the unborn, and our freedom protected just like every other American. Those who are here illegally can have their voice heard in their homeland, not here; they have not earned that right. Yes, it must be earned, you cannot take it. Activists like Sotomayor should be shown the door; they have no place in leadership where they can dictate racist agendas upon the rest of us.

  • Wilfredo  - Sonia Sotomayor

    Alejandro Moreno you are a man with wisdom, the same can't be said of Aaron Rodriguez who I presume is a fan of Honduran Miguel Estrada who hates the skin in which he was born, I can't for the life of me figure out his hatred for Sonia Sotomayor,maybe he hates himself. Aaron my man it's time for some self reflection.

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