I’d like to depart from talk of fantasy and writing a moment and speak about individual rights. As an American I certainly take this for granted at times. As a heterosexual black male I can express some limited experience with discrimination. Something I can definitely say though: It’s not the world it used to be.
I’d like to take a moment to talk about counter-discrimination though, the other side of the coin. In the recent past I was inspired by a blog article posted by John Scalzi, a very talented Sci-Fi writer. Anyone can talk about topics everyone agrees with, but it takes marbles to talk about a sensitive subject. The long story short: He made a brilliant analogy to race / sex / orientation to difficulty levels of a videogame.
It is not my intent to entertain that point again, as Scalzi does it so well. Instead I want to humbly explore the ‘oppressive idea’ from the viewpoint of those that are stamped as stubborn and cruel.
Old ideas, the established, have a right to want to preserve their ideals as well. Moving forward is a sure fire way to advance and to grow, but one must keep in mind when you replace an ideal you’re disposing of an old one.
It’s easy to recognize discrimination, but in removing it we need to be careful not to oppress the initial party. They have rights too. Think of war reparations. If a losing party of a war are identified as an Axis power, their nation is made to pay for damages. Their ideals are viewed as evil and they must make up for those crimes. That is an extreme. What if the matter is something a little bit less than warcrimes?
Say for example, Mr. Folicle own a hair care store. Hair comes in multiple shades but is decidedly predictable. Hair naturally comes in Brown, Black, Red, Blonde, White and Grey. He has his lovely little store set up to lovingly cater to people of all creeds. He has devoted your life to being the premier hair care expert as his father before him has done.
However the one thing Mr. Folicle does not carry is hair dye. This foul substance is the bane of your existence. Foul substance that mocks the very natural order of hair. He is particularly stubborn even in cases of covering up greying hair. “If people want to ruin their hair and be something they aren’t they can go somewhere else! However if people want to embrace their natural beauty I will aid any and all!”
One morning Mr. Folicle is drinking his coffee, black of course, and flips on the news. It is shown to him that a very small population of people less than 2% have naturally blue hair! To show this point, a newborn girl from the Midwest USA is shown with blueberry colored hair.
Immediately he dismisses this as a sham. There’s no way this could be true. It would ruin everything! When he leaves to open the shop he looks around, and notices one or two people with blue hair out of the hundreds he passes.
They’re just dying it. I’m sure of it. He thinks.
As the weeks go by, he continues his business as usual. The ‘blue hair’ craze is on the news every day. To the point where he decides to stop watching the daily news in irritation. A woman comes into his shop sporting a particularly irritating shade of purple hair. She looks like someone out of those new-fangled ‘animes’ his son watches.
The woman politely asks if there are any hair treatments that he would suggest. Appauled and annoyed by recent events he shoos the woman from his store. “This store is a celebration of natural hair. We don’t cater to fabrications such as yourself. I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
She quietly leaves, cheeks flushed in embarrassment. One of his regular customers steps up to him and sets him straight. “Hey… that woman… you shouldn’t be so rude. That’s her natural hair color. She’s my neighbor. We’ve known each other my whole life. ”
“How was I supposed to know? And am I expected to cater to the rarity? I’ll have you know, the hair care products I have for gingers is extremely expensive. I spend nearly three to four times as much keeping that stocked. The demand for ‘natural’ blueheads is going to be abysmally low. Not to mention there are going to be pretenders claiming they’re natural when they’re just doing this for attention!”
Now this… is a silly example and yes Mr. Folicle is being a bit of a jerk. But he has some points. If delegation was to go on to require people like Mr. Folicle to stock for blue haired people to avoid discrimination… he is in his eyes being oppressed.
Much like in fiction. A antagonist may seem extreme, but they also think of themselves as right. In America, we are blessed to be able to disagree. This may be a slightly obvious analogy to current events in America but I think it is important to remember that minorities can be oppressive too. Mind you everyone has the right to be treated as equals. Everyone has the right to be able to do what their fellows can do. But if there is an overbearing expectation for special exceptions the line gets blurred.
It becomes a complex moral choice when what one group wants changes the very definition of what is important to another group. So in that light they aren’t being ‘evil’ they are simple defending their personal rights.
In this case Mr. Folicle would have some apprehensions to blue being called a ‘natural’ hair color. In his eyes it is an oddity a mockery of the norm. Just some food for thought when lining up to argue with friends across political lines. It is important to respect peoples for sake of fairness