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Rights Gone Wrong: How Law Corrupts the Struggle for Equality
A New York Times Book Review Notable Book Since the 1960s, ideas developed during the civil rights movement have been astonishingly successful in the fight against overt discrimination. But can they combat the whole spectrum of social injustice---including conditions that aren’t directly caused by bigotry?In Rights Gone Wrong, Richard Thompson Ford argues that extremists o ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 30th 2012 by Picador
(first published September 27th 2011)
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The title and description of this book are misleading. The book is not about how the civil rights legal framework undermines the struggle for equality. The majority of the book is the author's oversimplification of discrimination issues in an intellectually dishonest way. He never mentions strict or intermediate scrutiny or rational review, which, as essential parts of the civil rights legal framework, bear mentioning since he is purporting to critique their efficacy in achieving equality. The a ...more
My rating here is definitely following the Goodreads rubric: it was ok. I initally wanted to give it 3 stars, but I saw that was listed as "I liked it," and I really wouldn't go that far. Some of the ideas introduced were really interesting and well worth thinking about, but I found the writing (and reasoning) to be sloppy. Still, if the topic of the book sounds interesting to you, there's a decent chance you'll be glad you read it once you've finished it.
Kind of an interesting thesis, that framing social-justice efforts in a legal "rights" mode has perverse, counterproductive effects and often isn't the best way to achieve equality. Finding instances of seemingly trivial issues dragged clunkily through the courts isn't too hard (he must have a friend who complains bitterly about "ladies' night" at bars as discrimination against men, as this issue arises often), but to his credit he also takes on tougher cases (school districts' spending on speci ...more
This book was interesting because it forced you to take a new perspective on the application of civil rights laws in the U.S.. That being said, I'm not sure I agreed with everything the author had to say -- perhaps because the issue is so complex.
Richard Thompson Ford is the George E. Osborne Professor of Law at Stanford Law School. He has published regularly on the topics of civil rights, constitutional law, race relations, and antidiscrimination law. He is a regular contributor to Slate and has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He is the author of Racial Culture: A Cri ...moreMore about Richard Thompson Ford...