The Corner


My Dear Wormwood, On the Matter of ‘Discrimination’ . . .

I was most disappointed to receive your recent letter in which you report, quite triumphantly, that having seduced the patient into the profligate use of the term ”bigot,” you are now on the verge of also completing your instruction on the term “discrimination.” Apparently, you believe congratulations are in order, but in fact, you have not even skimmed the surface of the latter term’s potential, for proper education on the nuances and complexities of such a powerful tool cannot reasonably be accomplished in such a short period of time.

The groundwork for the term’s effective deployment must be laid in two stages (in this regard, you are fortunate that your progenitors have spent the last several decades preparing the field for you, primarily by enhancing the term’s elasticity).

First, you must exploit the patient’s frustration that he will not have an opportunity to demonstrate his righteousness, his moral heroism, in the manner others have done in the past. This will not be difficult, for you will find that at the same time most forms of cruel or invidious discrimination have been outlawed or otherwise significantly reduced, the patient’s zeal for finding “discrimination” somewhere — anywhere — has increased exponentially. His zeal has become so great that it clouds his ability to discern that not all discrimination is necessarily invidious; and, as a bonus, it feeds his totalitarian impulses.

Having persuaded the patient to treat nearly all discrimination as invidious, you will be on the cusp of the second stage — convincing him that there is no intrinsic difference between “equal” and “same.” This, you will quickly discover, is the loadstone. A finding of sameness eliminates the need for prudential judgment. And when prudential judgment is eliminated, the patient will accept all manner of fallacies and absurdities. And when fallacies and absurdities are routinely accepted we, dearest nephew, are in business.

In my next letter, I shall instruct more fully on the first stage — the mischief that may be wrought by stimulating the patient’s desire to appear just and morally heroic.

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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