Taking note of society and where it seems to be headed, with its growing emphasis on “equity” and “fairness,” reminds me of a short story by Kurt Vonnegut called “Harrison Bergeron.”
Vonnegut was a liberal, to be sure, but he was not a Left-Wing loon like so many current celebrities. And he was no fool. Vonnegut was smart, witty and fearless – he knew where left-wing ideology would lead and he routinely called out the fake elite.
The story is set in the future, 2081. Total equality, or something close to it, has finally been achieved. How? Well, its impossible to make everyone equally great but, it is very possible to make everyone equally average or mediocre by a process of “handicapping” people who are not average. The Office of the United States Handicapper General has been established and this group determines the level of handicapping each person requires in order for everyone to have parity.
To fairly make everyone equally average, and ensure no one is offended by anyone else’s abilities, physical restrictions are placed on the body. Those with above average strength and agility are forced to carry around weighted sacks chained to their necks. Those with above average intelligence are forced to wear ear pieces that blast horrific sounds into the brain every 20-seconds to confuse and slow down thought. Those with above average beauty are forced to wear face coverings at all times. TV personalities, and perhaps all public communicators, must have speech impediments or speak in harsh, unappealing tones. No one is allowed to be good at their jobs and must apologize for any accidental display of competence in case they offend the average person.
The only people allowed to display competence are the agents of the Handicapper General. They are unceasingly vigilant in ensuring that no one deviates from the norm and appears unequally superior in any way. Any attempt to remove or lessen to any degree any of the imposed handicaps can result in fine, imprisonment and even death for repeated offenses. To offend the average is unforgivable.
The story was written in 1961, so we are now at the midway point. We still don’t have an Office of the Handicapper General – however, with, possibly, the most AVERAGE Joe, mediocre politician in U.S. history serving as President, legions of Social Justice Warriors, “Karens,” and other leftist stormtroopers prowling the streets looking for offenses, and an education system that seems determined to undermine the effects of the past 500-years of civilization, Vonnegut’s 2081 dystopia does not seem that far off.