Bill O’Buffoon, or Equality and Straw Men

A few years ago, an older (and rather politically & socially conservative) student referenced an absent student with a learning disability. The first student asked, “You don’t really think she’s equal to you, do you?”

Fairly recently, a notable TV personality, referenced in the title, claimed equality is impossible because he’ll never be a famous basketball player.

My answer to the first inquiry was, “Yes, I do.” My answer to the second is, “Nice straw man fallacy.”

When we talk about equality in society, we don’t mean that everyone can do everything equally well. What we mean is socio-political equality. That is, what we mean by equality is that everyone gets treated the same, legally, socially, and politically.

For example: everyone gets paid the same for doing the same job at the same level of experience, regardless of race, religion, gender, or orientation. Likewise everyone has the same opportunity to nurture their talent, whatever those may be, instead of being held back by the accident of birth into a given socio-economic level or prejudices about race, gender, religion, or orientation (or whatnot).

This does not mean that everyone gets to play professional basketball. But, it does mean that anyone who has a talent for basketball should have an equal chance to potentially play professionally. Likewise, my own talents are in the teaching and writing realms, therefore equality means a fair chance for me to develop and make a living from those talents (despite my total lack of basketball ability), regardless of unchangable factors (e.g. race, gender, orientation, or even religion). The referenced personality’s talents, from what I can see, are conning, bullying people, and fearmongering . . . but are clearly not in formulating logical argumentation.

In the example I started this post with, the absent student was/is a proficient (maybe even talented) computer programmer, something I’ve tried and found that I have no talent for. On the other hand, said student’s writing needed a fair bit of work and did not come easily to her. We’re equal, nonetheless, even though our talents are different and we’ll never be identical.

In short, equality means equal opportunity, not everyone being identical.

P.S. The first student mentioned above was also the inspiration for my morality post as (s)he stridently claimed that religion is an absolute necessity for morality.

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2 comments on “Bill O’Buffoon, or Equality and Straw Men

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