Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Harrison Bergeron

Hey, wanna really, truly get a good return on the investment of five minutes? Experience something that will stick with you for a long time, shake you up and get you really fired up? Good! I knew you did.

Read the short short story “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut. It’s only 2,000 words – about two Hopper posts in length. Do yourself a favor. Click here.

Do it.

Ah, you’re back. Chilling, right? Though Vonnegut uses a sledgehammer to get his point across, you know what that point is, right? Can you deny that this is where some in America wish to take this country, minus the literary hyperbole?

If we imagine a continuum of 1 through 10, 1 being complete libertarian free will free market live-free-or-die-ness-ism, and 10 being some bizarre Vonnegutian coddling supra-smothering Bloombergian nanny state, I would place “Harrison Bergeron” at a 9.5. Currently, I’d put America around a 2, maybe 2.5. Our current education system, of which I’ve heard more than a few horror stories of varying depths of believability, and which I’m going to soon experience vicariously through my two daughters, I’d put at a 3.75. And I think there are people in powerful places who want to move us down the scale to a 4.5 or a 5.5 and perhaps further on down.

Agree or not?

The question then is, how do we reverse this trend? Assuming you can convince proponents of equality-of-results that this is something in our best interests to reverse.

I, for one, think “Harrison Bergeron” should be required reading. First, all new teachers need to … oh, I don’t know … read, memorize, and do a dissertation on it. (Try getting that past the NEA.) Then, your children must read it. Starting with eighth-graders. Then, as high school seniors. Have a dinner-table discussion about it, at the very least. It’s a great vaccination for the mind warpage we call college. And once your little ones get to college, you need to bring this story up at least once a year as a booster-shot. That’s how powerful the loony disease of equality-of-results is.

I read Cat’s Cradle in high school (but not for high school), and Hocus Pocus about fifteen years ago. Both left strong impressions on me. Read a sprinkling of his short stories over the years. Sirens of Titans is on my Wish List. For the record, I like Kurt Vonnegut, though I haven’t read much much more of his. I have read of his alleged roaming unfettered liberalism. Hocus Pocus had a few obligatory snubs at Reaganism if I recall correctly, but it was still a masterpiece. More than once I put the book down and laughed out loud. Whatever his politics, the man was a genius with a pen.

“Harrison Bergeron” has long been on my radar but I never read it until it showed up at National Review’s The Corner a few days ago. Apparently it’s been made into a movie or at least a faux movie trailer, I’m not sure. But I did check it out on youtube and it was sickening in a philosophically sickening way.

Read it!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

OUTSTANDING!!!. Odd that an indictment of "Equality of Results" would come from this writer.

To keep with today's rightspeak, Handicapper General should be Physical Challenger General. But, alas, it was 1961, and the writer was clearly not enlightened.

Also, along similar (but different) lines I give you a quote out of today's news regarding the equality of wealth (redistribution) from this morning's DrudgeReport.

Economist David Henderson of the conservative Hoover Institution says a shift from private wages to government benefits saps the economy of dynamism. "People are paid for BEING rather than for PRODUCING," he says. (CAPS are mine)