When Fair is Unfair

Sometimes fairness goes too far.

Comments (23)

(22) Michael, November 7, 2010 2:05 AM


Rabbi, I always enjoy your blogs, find them thought provoking, even disturbing (in a good way) sometimes. My question is - When are you going to fix the clock that we can see behind you in the videos ? It's always the same time, or are you remarkably consistant and punctual? - Best Wishes!

(21) Hadassah, October 30, 2010 12:18 AM

Marketing of Evil

I recently bought the book "the Marketing of Evil" on audio. My 21 year old son just got back from Colorado taking a pyschology class. He listened in the car as we drove around doing errands and running to Grandma's one hour there and back. He seemed irritable and I said. "Are you angry that I want you to listen to this?" He said. "No, I'm angry that I need to do something and feel like I can't. No one will listen, no one is listening, and now I have information that again...how do I get people to hear the facts?" You will be shocked at what we have bought into and how and why it happen. Many of us may well know deep down that what has been marketed to us, in a sly way, has taken us far from Torah. But, in addition you will hear a few wonderful things about Judaism that the persistence of certain moral institutions that can be traced back first to Judaism have allowed for Women's rights, the preservation of infants, and that we are growing more and more intolerate of tolerance. (that's not necessarily a bad thing) However, it's high time we know how to explain to others with whom we disagree with clarity, facts, and moral fortitude why. We may challenge more people to rethink a position that in the end will lift up the MOST HIGH and restore and repair the world the way the Creator intended.

(20) Unlisted, October 29, 2010 10:04 PM

You're confusing "fairness" in life with the legal "Fairness Doctrine," which governed broadcast media

There LEGALLY used to be a FAIRNESS DOCTRINE. It was instituted by the Federal Communications Commission and applies only to terrestrial broadcasts, i.e. over-the-air radio and TV stations, which are licensed by the FCC. The reason is that under the Communications Act of 1934, the airways were declared to belong to the "people." So when it comes to political candidates, radio and TV stations are LEGALLY OBLIGATED to provide equal time to all legitimate candidates. A station that does NOT do so could be threatened with having its license to broadcast revoked. In 1987, the FCC abolished the Fairness Doctrine. However, there is still such a thing as the "Equal Time" provision, which DOES apply to political candidates. Neither of these concepts applies to non-broadcast media-- both print media and Internet media-- which are not required to be licensed by the FCC. Neither the Fairness Doctrine nor the Equal Time provision has anything to do with overdoing the concept of "fairness" in Life!

(19) solarpv, October 28, 2010 3:48 AM

Rabbi psychotherapist over analyzed this one

I usually don't respond to these forums, but this one hit a nerve. First, I find it strange that Mr. Therapist can diagnose the "problem" without viewing the debate. To me, that is nonsense. One of the most offensive manifestations of how "democracy" is practiced in the USA is how the 2 major parties have hijacked the system to exclude voices from 3rd party candidates. Kudos to New York state for opening the doors to all candidates. It is blatantly wrong, dare I say Unfair?, to link a debate between candidates who met their parties criteria to Holocaust deniers sharing the stage with survivors. Until 3rd party candidates are given equal access to the forums of the major party candidates, their voices will not be heard and we'll continue to grope along as one of the most undemocratic nations in the free world. Why does America have one of the lowest voter participation and highest apathy rates? The DemoPublicans want us more concerned with what was done by some athlete than what happens in government. Thank God there are still independent voices out there struggling to be heard. Avraham avinu was certainly a "minority candidate". Where would we be if he was silenced for spouting his "nonsense"?

(18) Duvid Tzvi, October 28, 2010 3:35 AM

I disagree

Rabbi, The reason we have a Fairness doctrine is proved to be correct by your very characterization of what constitutes a "Major" party. You and you alone have decided that the Green and Liberterian parties have millions of followers who all have excellent points and initiatives that could improve America. I saw the gentleman fron the "Rent" party, and he was fervent in his care for those less fortunate. If we left the debates up to people like you, we'd never hear these arguments, and they need to be heard. They candidated filed the proper paperwork according to the law. They got the requisite signatures on their petitions. And they paid the fees. They know they don't have a snowballs chance in hell to get elected. But they are so motivated to tell their story and press their case that they do it anyway. Then you come along and tell them they are not relevant. Not important enough to be heard. Not American enough. By the way, sir, who says you're important enough to have a place in AISH? Do you draw enough internet traffic to be considered relevant? Important? Who gets to judge you?

(17) Joanne, October 28, 2010 3:01 AM

Politics as usual is "not fair"!

I did watch the gubernatorial debate, and it was ridiculous to give each candidate one or two minutes to state his case, and some of those candidates were deplorable. However, I did take away a positive impression of the Libertarian and Green Party candidates. They made both of the major candidates look bad in comparison. The two-party system is not working. Career politicians become corrupt if they didn't start off that way (power corrupts....). The Tea Party and others scream that "taxes are unfair", and they are, but without them we would have no government at all. A flat tax that took away all the loopholes would probably make no one happy, but would it be fair for the extremely rich to pay the same rate as the middle class and poor? Or are the progressively higher rates fairer? Is it fair that 2% of the populace has 85% of the national wealth?

(16) Kip Gonzales, October 27, 2010 10:52 AM

Very well said!

In today´s world, there is so much said against "intolerance". In the old days, tolerance meant putting up with something or someone, even though you may not agree. Today, every opinion has to be seen as equally valuable or true and valid, otherwise you´re "intolerant" and a "hater"! The people who scream "INTOLERANT" the loudest, are strangely intolerant of any opinion other than their own!

(15) Tracey, October 27, 2010 12:31 AM


Who determines what is "fair?" We have in this country freedom of speech, which also includes the freedom to say outrageous things. All seven candidates were believed to be serious candidates (Libertarian and Green Party are legit certainly). Most times, we only get to see the two main candidates debate, but in NY, it was Mr. Palladino who demanded that everyone be heard, possibly to deflect from his own shortcomings. (If they're talking about the "sideshow," they're not talking about you.) The biggest losers in this were Rick Lazio and the public. While I'm not crazy about him, he had every right to run on the Conservative or the Independent ticket, but instead, since the Republicans were afraid he'd pull votes away from their chosen candidate, they bullied him into not running. They effectively silenced him and gave the voters one less choice. Now tell me: Is that fair?

(14) David S. Levine, October 26, 2010 7:56 PM

#4 Remains Anonymous

I can easily see why Mister #4 would want to reamin anonymous with his pro-Spitzer diatribe. I didn't know that "the media fired Spitzer." If CNN did so it's because his show was a play on the line from the Democ-rats' favorite (sewer of a) decade, the 1960s--"Suppose they gave a TV program and nobody watched." Yes, by that standard the media (ABC actually) ought to fire the Israel bashing Amanpour witch, but doesn't. Yes, Spitzer used to prosecute hookers--and then he used the hooker service he didn't prosecute. Were I still a New Yorker I would not be satisfied with the choice of candidates. There was so much for Paladino to talk about this year and all he spoke about were social issues few in New York care about. Voting for Governor of New York this year is the equivalent of being up to one's neck in manure and having it thrown at your face. What do you do, duck?

(13) Rich Vail, October 26, 2010 6:37 PM

Political Correctness Run Amok

"fairness" is merely another term to take from those who do and give to those who won't. We can no longer as a nation afford to be "fair" all the time. It's reached the point where we are on the verge of bankruptcy...we've already begun, with our huge debt payments to the Chines fund their military expansion 100% (they spend 99 billion per year...and our payment on the debt they now hold is more than 3 times that). Withing 10 years, we will be paying the Chinese 600 billion dollars per year and that will only INCREASE. Rich Vail

(12) Paul, October 26, 2010 6:16 PM

The very problem of our time

Dear Rabbi Solomon, Perhaps you have pointed out the very problem of our time. Certainly something to think about.

(11) Gedalyah, October 26, 2010 5:53 PM

Your Not Fair

Giving people an opportunity to participate in a debate isn't necessary about fairness but allowing one to present their agenda. If you limit a debate in this case to two parties republican and democratic you will only see two view points. By inviting someone who may be ridiculous to present his issues allows for them to be discussed and makes them known. Maybe you disagree with the persons dress or way of delivering the message but I dont think that warrants censorship of his parties platform. With all do respect Rabbi, I really think you missed the mark on this one. The Jewish people are the minority and it would be unfair to let us participate in a debate based on our size or our popularity in the world. However, we often bring to the table a view point that no one else is sensitive too and we bring to light issues that people choose to ignore. The example of drug use and trying things out to be fair isnt a good example because those are all destructive. I think The Rent Is To High party deserves to be heard and it made make us think that there are people out who really are struggling. And that is fair

(10) David, October 26, 2010 4:46 PM

Be selective in your listening - Don't shut people out

Interesting piece, Rabbi Salomon, but I think that you are missing some perspective. In the US, elective office is a winner-take-all contest. Consequently, in most places there are two dominant parties whose candidates usually divide most of the offices. Maybe your Madams and Renters and others are not serious, but are you willing to say that your Libertarians, Greens, Socialists or others don’t have serious ideas? Just because you may not agree with them, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t serious. You could limit the debate to two candidates, but then some ideas would inevitably be lost. (And the US is desperate for lots of new ideas.) You are currently visiting Israel, so let’s look at the system there. Public office is usually divided among parties. In the Knesset, there are at least six secular parties in the center, left, and right, at least three Jewish religious parties (woven kippot, Ashkenazi black-hats, and Sephardi black-hats), and at least three Arab parties. Should we limit the debate there to two leading parties/candidates? I happen to think that Agudat Yisrael and Shas have crazy far-out ideas, so maybe we should deny them publicity. The Arabs aren’t really “part of us”, so they shouldn’t be heard either. The left has too much disproportionate influence, so let’s shut them up, and one right-leaning party is largely based on a particular group of immigrants (almost like foreigners), so they don’t need to participate, either. Where does it end? Personally, in Israel I would love to see district representation where one candidate wins, and the rest lose. At a minimum I would raise the threshold of entry for election to 8-10% of the vote (limiting the number of parties to 10 or 12). The US has it better with a dysfunctional two-party system. But before you would deny people a platform because they are not mainstream, think about the marketplace of ideas that you would impoverish.

(9) Rosen, October 26, 2010 3:48 PM

unfairness vs. inconsistency

Based on my work experience, I have realized that there is really a difference between being unfair/discriminatory and inconsistency. It's all a matter of perception where it is easy for one to jump to the conclusion that he/she was treated unfairly, but when we really think about it, there is a lot more inconsistency than discrimination, so there's nothing personal about fairness or unfairness...I've also learned that when we expect life to be fair, particularly due to the Civil Rights Act as well as being created in G-d's image, that can lead to a lot of disappointment and misery. I've also recently realized that if life really were fair, it may be boring and unchallenging.

(8) Harry Gross, October 26, 2010 3:43 PM

I disagree with the good Rabbi

Neither of the major parties works in our best interests.They hide what they really mean. They use our resources uneconomically, inefficiently and in the best interest of special interest groups. We need to throw both of these groups of body louses out in the trash and reduce our government.......Harry Gross DPM, Pineville, Louisiana

(7) shlomoh, October 26, 2010 3:31 PM

It stinks but its the law

I hate to tell you this. You may not want to hear some opinions; I may not want to BUT - the Law is that everybody has a right to speak his opinion. Often I am tempted to urge that laws are put into effect that denies the voicing of certain opinions. The Talmkud states that not all that is thought should be said. But we don't live in a Talmudic society. We live in a country that promotes freedom of speech, even speech that we hate. I'd hate to deprive schmucks from expressing their opinion only to find that I am also deprived.

(6) Dan Gold, October 26, 2010 2:59 PM

Affirmative action

Trying to be fair to minorities, you necessarily end up being patently unfair to individuals in the majority who are more qualified.

(5) lisa, October 26, 2010 12:25 AM

Stop the insanity!!!

FAIR is becoming a four letter word!!!

(4) Anonymous, October 25, 2010 11:32 PM

How fair?

Maybe we should begin a bit earlier with fairness. How fair was it for the media to fire Eliot Spitzer? It should be noted that his crime had nothing to do with him being a Governor. If it did then Paterson should have been out long time ago. It is interesting to note that Spitzer was great at prosecuting the Mafia. So, let us go to the present fairness. How fair was it for the Republican party to nominate the don himself: Paladino? He has already threatened a man's life and I have yet to see legal action or news media coming to hang him. He has been exposed for pornographic e mails but where is the media? He has been exposed for his racist e mail comments but, again, where is the media? He has been exposed for his homophobic comments but where is the media? Where was the fairness in nominating this guy? Lest one think that I were a Democrat, where is the fairness of Cuomo being selected? Let us not forget that it was Cuomo, and not Gramm, who helped create the worst housing crisis in the US. He did this while he was serving in the Clinton White House. It was his brilliant idea to open up the taps to everyone when it came to home ownership. So, why not have all the candidates debating? It seems to me that the two main parties have no respect for the New York voter. New York voters have no real choice for Governor. Is that fair? One of our rabbi's recently made sure that he walked away from Paladino. Where is Eliot Spitzer? You know that Jewish fella's sexual indiscretions now seem not to be such a big deal when placed in this light. I guess maybe the mafia does rule New York politics after all. That is not fair.

(3) Raayah, October 25, 2010 7:09 PM

Fairness in education

A friend of mine, a teacher, was lamenting recently that her classroom is unmanageable because of her 30 students per class she has quite a few special needs/ed students. I think that we have gone to far with our concept of fairness in education. It is fair that all children deserve an "education". But not all children have the same capabilities or should be educated in the same way. "Mainstreaming" certain children that need more individual attention does not benefit those children, the rest of the students or the learning environment. It is may not look fair but it is the right idea. Everyone does not need to go to college. There are some people that excel at academic studies and some people at trades. The whole push of college-aimed academics at every child no matter his or her actual skills or talent is not fair to anyone. Not every child can be in a standard classroom. No child left behind should not mean every child on the same path of learning. Not every profession should require a college degree. Many years ago many professions accepted new workers as apprentices. Now everything requires a degree. It is fair to rethink our education system that thinks treating everyone the same is fair, and promoting college as the only path of professional success is right.

Anonymous, December 21, 2011 9:14 PM

Raayah--It sounds like your friend the teacher has special needs students who should be in a different class placement. Often times special needs children are placed based on what is best for the school district economically, as opposed to what is the most APPROPRIATE educational placement. Is that fair? Of course not!!

(2) Anonymous, October 25, 2010 8:14 AM

thank you Rabbi Solomon for your interesting insight once again, i always enjoy listening to something to think about .. thank you.

(1) Joe, October 24, 2010 5:56 PM

Something to think about?

One wonders if the good rabbi/social worker/pundit fully grasped what he was watching. The “debate” under discussion, contrary to what he asserts, was not conceived as a means of being “fair” to the candidates. It was a marketing gimmick produced and broadcast by a cable channel that few watch. And it worked. Channel 12 is only seen by subscribers to Cablevision. Soundbytes from the spectacle were played on radio; clips were broadcast on larger, respectable TV outlets. There were even quotes in the press. With each instance the side-show was mentioned as news, so was Channel 12. Our rabbi/social worker/pundit also seems to miss his own point. At the beginning of his vlog he laments how the public is being “bombarded” with “all kinds of politics and all kinds of broadcasts and advertisements”. He then later asserts that the freak parade (my description) prevented the public from learning the pols’ positions. Which is it? Most bizarre, though, was his leap to claiming that being fair in excess leads to those who need to try every religion and every drug. Really, now? It’s “fairness” and not countless other factors, many of them psychological? The rabbi/social worker/pundit is right about “fairness” having gone too far. What’s truly worth lamenting, however, is his inability to make his case. To quote the rabbi/social worker/pundit: “Let’s have something to think about”. Indeed.


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