Monday, April 16, 2012

White Male Privilege

It must be nice to be a baby boomer heterosexual white man.

During an online discussion about voting, after I sarcastically recommended the lesser of two evils theory, I got this clever non-sequiter dropped in my lap.
It must be nice to be a baby boomer heterosexual white man.
My reply, although pointed, was far too brief.
Actually, it sucks. We can't blame our failures on the inequities in the system and postulate that if only we get the right people into political office they'll fix everything. We have to face the stark reality that the One Percent's idea of "equality" is to destroy the "privileged" middle class so that all the ninety-nine percent are equally disadvantaged and dependent on their largess, rather than removing the roadblocks that allow everyone to compete with those who are politically protected and achieve all they're capable of achieving.

My concept of equality does not mean we're all equally powerless to do anything without permission from the state and grateful for whatever paltry portion of our own efforts they deign to let us keep.
My concept of equality encompasses the law, not outcomes. My concept of equality means that every citizen is treated as every other citizen under the law, regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, age -- or connections to the political machine. My concept of equality does not mean your daughter should be forbidden from operating a lemonade stand the same as someone else's son. My concept of equality does not mean that every person should be protected from the opportunity to make their own choices because some people make bad choices. My concept of equality does not encompass imprisoning some people for their choice of recreational drug while others go free for overindulging in theirs.

My concept of equality does not exclude some class of people from prosecution for their actions because of some nebulous claim of "sovereign immunity." My concept of equality does not include groups of people enjoying limited liability for their actions because their attorneys filed a stack of papers. My concept of equality does not include allowing some group of people to claim the authority to take the assets of some other group of people, or individuals, either for their own use or for the use of others.

My concept of equality does not exclude recognizing the fundamental humanity of people because the politicians that claim to represent me declare that the politicians who claim to represent them are bad people, and therefore denying them access to food and medicine, or bombing them into oblivion, is justified. My concept of equality does not include the authority of some people to proclaim others "enemies of the state" and imprison or murder them in violation of the protections promised them as citizens.

My concept of equality is not that of the society of Harrison Bergeron, with its Handicapper General.

The Story of Harrison Bergeron
The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.
In Kurt Vonnegut's dystopian future, no one is stupider, uglier, weaker, or slower than anyone else. Everyone is finally equal; the office of the Handicapper General assures that. Those with beauty are forced to wear masks; those with strength are forced to carry heavy loads. Those with keen eyesight wear glasses to blur their vision. Those who are swift wear chains to slow their progress. Those with high intelligence are constantly bombarded with noises through earplugs they are required to wear. And finally, everyone is equal in every way.

It seems to this Tireless Agorist that much of what government does, when it's not favoring one group to the disadvantage of another, is acting as Handicapper General in the productive realm, loading down those who are the most capable with weights in the form of massive tomes of regulations, forcing those who are the most innovative to peer through lenses of the permissible in order to cloud their visions of a better future. The most productive are discouraged from producing more than others by taking that which they produce in excess. While done in the name of safety and equality, the true intent appears to be assuring that those who are most politically-connected are prevented from facing strong competition.

The Bottom Line

White Male Privilege appears to me to be the honor of being the pig at a pig roast, the privilege of being hitched to a wagon and forced to pull in a direction that others decide I must go. Personally, I'm mortified that my tax dollars support a justice system that incarcerates blacks at a rate 12 times that of whites for marijuana use, allows the taking of people's homes to build shopping malls, that sweeps crimes by police under the rug, and that lets popular politicians go to their graves praised for their good deeds rather than vilified for their crimes. I'm mortified at the legislation that's appearing in statehouses around the country, intended to wage war on women with my tax dollars.

I'm mortified that my tax dollars support a military system that invades other countries whose political system our politicians disapprove of, that dismisses the wholesale slaughter of uninvolved civilians as collateral damage, that claims the authority to imprison American citizens indefinately and without the protection of habeus corpus, and even the authority to kill American citizens absent due process, based on the findings of a star chamber tribunal whose records are classified military secrets.

I'm mortified that my tax dollars support a system that denies equal protection under the law, and in particular, the equal right to contract, to gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals, and polygymists. I'm mortified that my tax dollars support a system that claims the authority to imprison individuals who ingest the wrong substances, trade cash for sex, or even protest against the system in locations or ways that those who claim to be in charge of the system declare verboten.

I'm mortified that my tax dollars support a regulatory system that pretends to protect people from the incompetencies of the oil companies, ignores Ponzi artists until billions of dollars have been lost by investors, allows pharmaceutical companies to peddle psoriasis cures that cause cancer and meat-packing companies to claim ammoniated meat scraps safe for human consumption, and takes money from individuals to protect bank officers from their own incompetence, claiming bailouts are required because the banks are too big to fail.

If that's white male privilege, I've had more than enough.

...and that's all I have to say about that.


  1. Excellent post.

    Sometimes I think the whole problem with government is that it's run by humans. People + Power = Disaster.

    Meet ya at the subterranean rendevous ;)

  2. The terrifying thing is...comparatively, you DO have it easy. Of course, another useful comparison is to someone saying to a woman in the USA: "How dare you get uppity! Women in the middle east have it way worse than you!"

    Quality of life and freedom are relative...but stopping your judgement there is just fucking stupid.

    1. Yeah, I don't disagree with you, comparatively. The role of prison blacksmith trustee, forced to forge chains for others, is certainly better than the solitary box. But neither is that equivalent in position to warden or guard, which is the assumption made by other inmates far too often.

  3. The Story of Harrison Bergeron.. read that story in 7th grade and it has always stuck with me.