I think this Affirmative Action case is going to lose. And it probably should:

Frank Ricci has been a firefighter here for 11 years, and he would do just about anything to advance to lieutenant.

The last time the city offered a promotional exam, he said in a sworn statement, he gave up a second job and studied up to 13 hours a day. Mr. Ricci, who is dyslexic, paid an acquaintance more than $1,000 to read textbooks onto audiotapes. He made flashcards, took practice tests, worked with a study group and participated in mock interviews.

Mr. Ricci did well, he said, coming in sixth among the 77 candidates who took the exam. But the city threw out the test, because none of the 19 African-American firefighters who took it qualified for promotion. That decision prompted Mr. Ricci and 17 other white firefighters, including one Hispanic, to sue the city, alleging racial discrimination....

But Donald Day, a representative of the International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters, questioned the value of the New Haven test, which included written and oral components. "An individual's ability to answer a multiple-choice exam," Mr. Day told the city's Civil Service Board, "does nothing but measure their ability to read and retain."

There are more important values, he added. "Young black and Latino kids have every right," he said, "to see black and Latino officers on those fire trucks that are riding through their community. They have every right to look for a role model."

No they don't. Look if the test is a bad test, then get rid of the the test. But if you administered it as tool for promotion, then you need to be good on you word. I get that the firefighting departments, nationally, have been bastion of discrimination. People are right to be horrified by that. By how is it that no one is horrified that not a single black firefighter did well enough on the test to qualify for a promotion.

People should have the right to compete in this country-- not the right to win. I'm not indifferent to changing the way these guys do hiring. But you can't do it like this. This is just stupid and hamfisted.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.