All discrimination was not created equal

An interesting talking point that’s floating on the internet right now is that making general statements about rich white men is discrimination and shouldn’t be supported. Obviously this is someone’s first barbeque.

While I certainly agree that these sorts of characterisations are mild discrimination, I actually don’t agree that discrimination is always a terrible thing no matter who it faces. To be sure, I feel discrimination is always a last resort, because of itself it sucks, but there’s a very big difference between the disadvantaged facing discrimination that keeps them down, and the heavily advantaged getting the occasional taste of being the Other when they wander into less “mainstream” territory.

We should also note that it’s largely misbehaviour that is being made fun of, and not men. There is a certain insinuation that rich people are all immoral in this type of social commentary, which I do take issue with, but you’ll note that it’s pretty restricted to “big business” especially in the example I gave, where there is a lot less colateral damage. I have yet to meet a rich person I could call immoral, however some certainly don’t pay enough attention to their own backyards, morally speaking. However, there are certainly big businesses that I can easily identify as being immoral.

Part of the reason I feel that we should continue to have social commentary like this is that I feel we can keep it in check when it goes too far- which we’ve certainly had to do in the past for minorities. The other reason is that it takes real, righteous anger to elicit social change- the groups who want change are never a powerful, self-aware majority. (otherwise why would they need to agitate for it?) They need to gather allies, guilt their opponents, and dictate the moral agenda. Even then it’s unlikely that change will be significant or fast. The politcal machine is more like a freight train than an aircraft- it has a lot of policies to carry, and so it takes some time to accelerate out of the station.

While I certainly wish we didn’t need angry women/Maori/queers/disabled/whatever to make social progress, people who stand in the way are legitimate targets, even on unrelated matters. Politics is not a nice environment, and given that those of us agitating for change have been demonised our fair share, it screams of inconsistency to turn around from gentle acceptance of discrimination to condemnation as soon as it starts affecting your own demographic.

When we see a bit more universal commitment to equal rights and nondiscrimination, maybe we can revisit this topic. But not until then.