Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Equality should not be the end goal

Flickr/Mike Renlund

In the modern age, there is great talk of equality and how people can be equal, should be equal and will become equal. This belief is held by many as the ‘Great Moral Pursuit’ of our time. Some say the greatness of our current society is that we are expanding that sphere of equality to apply it to everyone. This apparently is our solution on how to lessen the difficulty and pain inherent in every human life.

The problem with egalitarianism is that people aren’t inherently equal nor can they become fully equal. Therefore, we should not attempt to make everyone equal. Equality should not be considered the goal for humanity for the same reason the ability to fly by flapping your arms should not be considered a goal for humanity; you can try as hard as you want, but it is just impossible.

Most critiques of egalitarianism today come from a stance of practicality. There is a refrain that socialism is wonderful in theory but can’t be implemented, because people wouldn’t be motivated to work. This critique suggests that it’s not the ideology’s fault; it’s the people’s fault for failing to live up to it. These critics oppose the implementation of egalitarianism but for some reason they still think it’s a moral pursuit.

The reality is that bad theory makes for bad practice. If a moral ideal violates the very nature of humankind and the universe, then it is a bad ideal. In order for two things to be equal, they must be the same. Two people are of equal height if they are the same height; two people are of equal weight if they have the same weight. When you really look closer, a desire for equality is very similar to a desire for conformity. Full equality would mean complete sameness. This is no way for people to live – it is the stuff of nightmares, of countless tales of terror.

A book called “Facial Justice,” tells the story of a state that makes sure all girls’ faces are equally pretty by preforming operations to bring them up or down to a happy medium. While there are no current plans to institute so drastic a scheme, it does raise an interesting point about how even beauty influences equality.  Recent research has shown that, “better looking attorneys who graduated in the 1970’s earned more than others after five years of practice, an effect that grew with experience.” The authors of the research include a quote stating, “You could legislate for every kind of discrimination, but not this. In everything from jobs to sex the attractive were advantaged, the very plain denigrated and rejected.” The authors say it would be impractical to try to make this sort of discrimination illegal. I disagree. We already make it illegal to discriminate against people for their race, color, national origin, gender, and age in the workplace. What is so impractical about adding another qualification to the list?

People talk about equality before the law as being of importance. But we should remember that the law does not provide total equality, and we should be grateful for that. Recently in Georgia, a man named Warren Hill was issued the death penalty. He has an IQ of 70, and he has been diagnosed as mentally retarded by every doctor who has examined him. Hill has also killed two people. It wasn’t until the hour before he was about to be executed, that the state relented, recognizing that given his mental condition, it would have been deeply immoral to execute him. Not everybody has the same IQ, and reasonable allowances should be made for that. The same goes for children who commit crimes; it would be wrong to hold them to the same standard of responsibility we reserve for adults.

The total fulfillment of equality is something that the human race has never had and never will have. Every step taken towards enforcing equality as a goal is a step in the wrong direction. It is important to treat others with kindness and respect, but it is a mistake to act as though everyone is the same or should be the same. All individuals are unique and each is irreplaceable. The anthill existence that total equality would bring about is anti-human.

Rane McDonough is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected].

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  • A

    ArielMar 29, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Anna and David Hunt:
    That is probably the most racist/sexist thing I’ve read this week. Congratulations! You literally just stated that certain races and ethnicities are have inherently unequal abilities. Man, you two would have had a blast in the 1950s!
    I would love to look at the “sociological testing” you cite. Please direct me where to find these studies.
    Do you know WHY certain ethnicities in certain areas tend to test lower in terms of IQ and intelligence? It’s because in poor areas (which are often, though not always, populated by minorities) the educational systems are broken. If you have 40 second graders stuffed into a classroom without enough textbooks or school supplies, those students are going to have a difficult time learning.
    If some of those second graders’ parents can’t help them with their homework after school because they have to work two jobs, those students are going to have a difficult time learning.
    If their parents don’t speak English, and don’t have the means or the confidence to speak to teachers and school officials when they see their children struggling, those students are going to have a difficult time learning.
    Not to mention the fact that many middle and upper class families have the ability to pay for SAT tutoring, classes and camps, all of which give their middle and upper class children a huge advantage when taking the SAT and getting into college. If you can’t afford those resources, of course you’re not going to score as well.
    The fact that Anna, David Hunt and many others see certain ethnic groups as having “lower intelligence and lower functioning” is disgusting, racist, sexist, and un-American. Our society is set up to benefit those with the ability to pay for resources, and then those who are economically disadvantaged are portrayed as “deserving” their lesser status.
    Just to be clear: “Democrats should be disbarred from voting” is an un-patriotic, asinine statement. The whole point of a DEMOCRACY is that all citizens have the right to choose their leaders. I think the society in which you would like to live in is called a dictatorship, in which case, by all means, please move to North Korea. I’m sure they’d love to have you.

  • D

    David Hunt 1990Mar 9, 2013 at 8:33 am


    You’re absolutely right in your assertion about groups of individuals in the political process. Democrats should be disbarred from voting.

  • A

    annaMar 7, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    If two sets of indivudals have a different skill set and a different level of income, one is capable of menial work and the other capable of engineering, one capable of of clerical work and the other capable of managing a company. One indvidual who attended high school and chose ot neglect college, another who attended graduate school. If an indvidual is more intelligent and talented than another, than why should we allot the same amount of pay, if the indvidual with inferior intelligence is generating less economic worth and less value to society?

    Also sociological testing has demonstrated that groups of indviduals exclusive of race,gender,etc. are demonstrated to have lower intelligence and lower functioning. Why should we allow those indviduals to partcipate in the polotical process if they’re prone to being easily influenced or making superficial decisions in terms of refferendums or voting for a politician based on flimsy information and weak reasoning?

  • K

    KrisMar 7, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Rane is a male, correct? “Rane McDonough explains her thoughts on the concept of equality.”

  • A

    A readerMar 7, 2013 at 3:04 am

    That’s a great fallacy you’ve built up there. People are not all the same, equality means making everyone the same, therefore equality is wrong…

    But the thing is, no one has EVER suggested “making everyone the same.” Equality – when advocated by someone in a political context – never refers to making people the same. It always refers to TREATING people in the same way. There is a huge difference between the two.

    For example, people have different heights and weights, like you pointed out. So what does it mean to advocate for equality between them? Does it mean somehow making them all the same height or the same weight, like you seem to believe? No, of course not. It means ensuring that they are treated the same way in society, for example receiving the same income or having the same job opportunities. Egalitarians don’t want to make people the same, they want social and economic circumstances to be made the same for everyone.