Stock Trek, The Social Psychologists Get Physical, Guys and Dolls and Cigarettes, and Other Matters. Ugly Rights

(FORTUNE Magazine) – In which Kindly Dr. Keeping Up morosely mulls another turn of the affirmative- action screw and posits that things will turn ugly when we get to the next ''protected class.'' Dear Dr. Up: State the genesis of your latest concerns about employment quotas, omitting the paranoia wherever possible. It is not paranoia (a) when they're really following you or (b) when the policy proposals you always knew were coming are finally out in the open, and by ''open'' we mean the June 1987 issue of the Harvard Law Review. Dear Doc: So specify already the class of citizens who are next in line to be shielded from bias and bigotry in the office and foundry.

It is the turn of the ugs. In the author's words, it is ''the most physically unattractive members of our society.'' Examples given are otherwise meritorious people suffering from obesity, shortness, ''an unusual looking nose,'' protruding ears -- in general, all and sundry found to have been standing behind the door when S.A. was handed out.

Dear Kindly: And you expressly warrant that the author was not kidding? Like many heavyweight contributions to the Harvard Law Review, the entry was unsigned, so it is hard to independently assess its creator's solemnity (or appearance). Textual analysis suggests, however, that the author is no less serious than Savonarola and furthermore has a word processor able to generate extensive scholarly footnotes, many of them evidencing familiarity with the still emerging and yet already burgeoning field of physical attractiveness.

Dear Up: This is an academic discipline? Grass has not been growing beneath the feet of social psychologists in the Eighties, so we now have factor analysis of the various attributes by which males and females judge one another's attractiveness, and studies of the ''perceptual distortions'' that cause Australian undergraduates to overestimate the height of academicians identified as having high status (to cite one particularly riveting experiment that turned up in The Physical Attractiveness Phenomena, by Gordon L. Patzer, a work mentioned repeatedly in the law review footnotes). Dear Upkeep: Drifting down to the bottom line, what, exactly, does the author propose? For openers, he has a proposal guaranteed to make employment interviews even more thrilling than they have been over the past 1,000 years. Proposal: The interviewer does not get to see the interviewee (who is sitting behind a screen or something). Dear Doctor: Kindly express a judgment about the prospects of such legislation when it reaches the House Labor Committee. Oddly enough, we might not need any legislation at all to implement the scheme. Dear Kindly: You opine that the law already bars bias against the unsightly? The author seems to believe this could well be the case, and is supported by a certain insane logic. We started out barring discrimination based on race, moved right along to protect umpteen other characteristics, then got to the special case of the handicapped, then asked the Department of Health and Human Services to define ''handicapped,'' and then didn't object when the regulations turned out to protect people who were ''cosmetically disfigured.'' So the author can now logically stand there stating: ''It . . . seems an arbitrary distinction to say that an employer cannot refuse to hire a person who has a disfiguring scar on his chin . . . but can refuse to hire someone whose chin is jutting or unusually shaped.'' Dear Keeping: And would you care to predict what the civil rights movement will do next, when it is finished nailing down protection for jutting chins? It would be paranoid to speculate.