Of course, my example is extreme, and so maybe I’m being unfair. Being gay or straight, black or white, male or female, are all things that we cannot control and are given to us at birth. But I don’t think that it factors into the analysis; people shouldn’t care what others do in the privacy of their own home. As long as one doesn’t harm another, people should be free to do whatever they want to. That’s a great theory, but it often falls on its face in practice. We subconsciously discriminate against people all the time for their lifestyles, and sometimes we even actively engage in prejudice—some just get more press coverage than others do.
Naturally, realizing something doesn’t make it go away—I’m not preaching for any anti-xyz organization here. However, there is something to be gained from making it explicit, and I think that if read charitably, the point of my last article becomes clearer. If we take the time to entertain—if only for a second—the idea that we might be subconsciously prejudicing someone, and if we have any reason to reject such prejudices, then we move one step forward toward dissolving it.
We tend to embrace progressivism and liberalism (in the historical sense) and try to break down prejudicial barriers. I think that’s a great principle to stand by, but I also think that if we are to embrace that idea, we should be consistent in its application. We may not be perfect at it, and typecasting and prejudicing are part of being an imperfect human. But at the same time, we should strive for this ideal—not just to eliminate prejudice against a race, or gender, or sexual preference, but to eliminate prejudice period. That’s a goal that I think all too often gets overlooked, and one that can benefit us all, if attended to.
AJ is a sophomore in Arts & Sciences. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.