The Corner

Politics & Policy

‘Harrison Bergeron’ and Equity

Kurt Vonnegut, in his short story “Harrison Bergeron,” explores the logical end to equity — the use of state power to effect ostensibly equal outcomes in society. He depicts a world where everyone must be handicapped to the lowest common denominator so that no man, woman, or child has a competitive advantage over another. Whenever I see the “Office of Equity and Inclusion” on a college campus, or BLM signs demanding equity, this story leaps unbidden to the mind. I hope you find it equally illuminating. Vonnegut writes:

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.

The rest, due to reasons of a litigious nature, must be read here.

“Harrison Bergeron” is copyrighted by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., 1961.


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