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A crisp analysis of the limits of our civil rights laws and a prescription for how to move beyond them.

A law professor argues against the harmful misuse of our civil-rights laws.

If instances of outright discrimination today are relatively rare, we have the 20th-century's civil-rights movement and the laws it inspired to thank. Ford (Law/Stanford Law School; The Race Card: How Bluffing About Bias Makes Race Relations Worse, 2008, etc.) forthrightly acknowledges this monumental achievement, but asks if those laws are now being stretched too far to cover every type of unfairness or slight. In an increasingly ambiguous and complex social landscape, are we doing more harm than good by insisting every injury or grievance amounts to a civil-rights violation? Ford enlivens his discussion with numerous, colorful example of rights gone wrong, cases where the laws are being abused to the detriment of genuine social justice. For example, Google fires a veteran Internet pioneer, deeming him a poor cultural fit. He sues, claiming age discrimination. A fan sues a Major League Baseball team after being denied the Mother's Day goodie bag distributed to all females. Another man files suit to be a waiter at Hooters; still another repairs to court against a Manhattan nightclub for its ladies' night promotion. All claim sex discrimination. A Harvard medical student, already granted an extra eight hours to complete a licensing exam because of her ADHD, demands still more time for a breast-pumping break. The organized San Francisco bicyclists who disrupt traffic, the Million Man marchers, the Promise Keepers, plaintiffs, protesters, even the Jena Six criminal defendants—all vigorously assert their "civil rights" and all, writes Ford, injure the social compact that recognizes a corresponding duty for every right. To view every instance of disparate treatment through the lens of discrimination—at the expense of common sense, civility and pragmatic problem-solving in the public interest—is to encourage the moral poseurs, narcissists, absolutists and extremists among us and to invite a host of outrageous, unintended consequences for those the laws were intended to help.

A crisp analysis of the limits of our civil rights laws and a prescription for how to move beyond them.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-25035-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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