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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Vonnegut dies

Whatever else he wrote, and there was a great deal that he wrote , Kurt Vonnegut's death reminds me of one of the most thought-provoking stories I have ever read.

It is the most horrific portrait of "outcome based" efforts to make everyone equal so that no one's feeling would get hurt. I think I first read it when I was in junior high, and it has stayed with me ever since.

The piece is "Harrison Bergeron" - a short story written in 1961- and you can find it here. It begins:
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.
Read it all.

Wonder at the mind, free of mental handicaps, that could make us see such things.

Mr. Vonnegut and I wandered different political paths over the years, but I mourn his passing.

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