All week I have heard about Sotomayor’s compelling life story. Sotomayor did face adversity as a youngster. She is the daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants who did not speak English. She was diagnosed with diabetes at age 8 and her father died when she was only 9. She grew up poor, living in a housing project in the Bronx. She overcame these obstacles and attended Princeton to earn her under graduate degree and later earned her law degree from Yale. From there she has steadily worked her up the ranks of the judicial system culminating in her nomination to the Supreme Court this week. It is always nice to see a person rise from obscurity.
Sotomayor made this controversial statement in 2001: “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life”. This caught my attention and really made me think, especially when my wife claimed my life story was more compelling than hers. I never thought of my life story as compelling, but after reading her biography, I would have to agree that I faced just as much adversity. Some may argue this is impossible since I am a white male. That may be true, I am sure Sotomayor faced bigotry and racism in her life that I could not imagine. However, while minority and female classmates of mine in college were getting relevant corporate experience with their summer jobs, I was passed over. Although I grew up a white male, I still faced many of the same issues as that plague minorities. However, I did not get the same opportunities in college as many of my colleagues who benefited from quotas, diversity policies, and affirmative action.
Start the violin because this is my sob story. I too grew up poor below the poverty line and my parents separated when I was 11. I started to work in restaurants when I was 12, and even had to pay rent to live at home. Both of my parents were alcoholics as was my stepfather. My stepfather was both physically and mentally abusive to all family members. He routinely beat my mother and did what he could to raise havoc on all of us. There was a lot of violence and bloodshed in my home growing up. Everyday I feared that someone was going to die. To give you an idea of what my stepfather was like, one night he woke me up with a gun held to my head and said he was going to kill me and he already killed my mother. He pulled the trigger, but the gun was empty. His only goal was to scare me; it worked because I defecated on myself. Right after I got my drivers license he cut the brake line in our car when he knew I was going to take the car out. Fortunately, I was able to use the emergency brake to get home safely. My stepfather despised me more than my two brothers because I fought back and was the one that always stopped him when he was beating my mother to a bloody pulp. I do not want anyone to feel sorry for me because I would not change my life. Although I wish my mother had a better life, I learned how to survive and become an independent thinker. My high school grades were not too bad, but my tests scores were very low. My verbal scores were extremely low, almost illiterate. I wanted to be an engineer since I did fairly well in math and science, but most schools declined to give me a chance to enter into their engineering program. Penn State was the only school to give me a shot. I averaged over 18 credit hours per semester while working 20-30 hours per week. I paid for my education without any help from my parents. I finished my degree in four years with slightly above average marks (3.15). Obviously, I did not the get the job offers that some of the better students received. Most of my classmates were full time students and did not have to work. Many took classes in the summer and even took 5 years to finish the program. This was a luxury I literally could not afford. I accepted a job at Texas Instruments and worked my up to Distinguished Member of the Technical Ladder. I had several inventions and authored more than 20 technical papers. I have authored two books, one was on investing and I heeded my own advice and retired when I was 43. Over the years I also become a fairly accomplished climber becoming the 216th person to climb the highest point in each state in the Continental United States. I even have a winter ascent of the Grand Teton under my belt.
Some may argue that Sotomayor and I are polar opposites. She is a Latina, while I am a white male. She is lawyer, while I am an engineer. She excelled in school, I only did mediocre. She has climbed to the top of her profession; I probably cannot not say the same. However, we both can claim to have beaten poverty and generally faced the same life experiences through adolescence. Interesting how her rich life experiences have taught her to practice law with empathy towards people with race. Whereas, myself, a white male that has lived a similar life of adversity, has concluded that empathy, affirmative action, diversity, and quotas, have no place in the law. Thus, I challenge Sotomayor’s statement that a Latina facing adverse life experiences is better equipped to rule on a law than a white male that has faced similar challenges. A judge should not legislate based on the biases of their personal beliefs, but should rule solely on the law. Affirmative action and empathy leads to controversy, such as with her ruling on the case of the New Haven fire fighters. It also leads to frivolous law suites where people sue others only because they are a minority or a woman. Empathy and affirmative action promotes mediocrity and prevents excellence. Empathy and affirmative action are unfair because they cannot be applied consistently, equally, or fairly to all people. This is true because each person, school, corporation, and state has their own definition of diversity and empathy. The law should be concrete and set in stone so it can be applied fairly and consistently to all Americans regardless of ethnicity. The Constitution says we are all equal under the law regardless of ethnicity, so we should be treated as such. Diversity and affirmative action send the wrong message: That women and minorities are not equal to white males. This is obviously bogus and a complete fabrication made up by the liberal think tank. Affirmative action and diversity policies are purely political tools used to win votes from different ethnic groups. It reminds me when one of the best managers I had in during my corporate days (who happened to be black) was promoted all the way to senior vice president. People who did not know him thought the only reason he was being promoted to such a high level was solely because he is black and the company was pushing diversity policies. That is an unfortunate situation created by diversity policies since it is my opinion this black man deserved his promotions and he earned them on merit, not on the color of his skin.
Read more about my story in my book: Is America Dying? (Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble)
My Blog: The Theory of Mediocrity (http://patrickbohan.blogtownhall.com/)