by Gail Jarvis
by Gail Jarvis
In a recent LRC article, Gary North explores a common mind-set of our contemporary society, "Something for Nothing." North explains that those who want to get something for nothing often resort to "wheedling." Indeed, wheedling and whining are two of the more widespread behaviors today; widespread, because unfortunately, they seem to work. And they are even more successful if the wheedling and whining is done by a group rather than an individual. Hence the phenomenal increase in "victim groups."
A recent study by an independent think tank in Great Britain indicates that 73% of that nation's population belong to a victim group. According to the study, victimhood has drastically increased because of the advantages it confers on the self-proclaimed victims; advantages such as financial compensation from the state; preferential treatment in the workplace, and the use of state powers (including the justice system and police) to silence unwelcome critics.
In the United States, politicians have capitulated to wheedling and whining by victim groups by enacting an overabundance of legislation authorizing questionable state powers to not only extend preferences to victim groups but also to modify the speech and behavior of society at large. Members of American society may no longer speak or behave in ways that victim groups define as unacceptable. Although laws pandering to victim groups have become more comprehensive, coercive and legally suspect, our politicians as well as members of the mainstream media continue to support them. They want us to believe that our personal freedoms have not been in any way affected by the restrictions imposed by these laws and that workplace preferences for so-called victims have not hindered the career advancement or earnings potential of others.
Government policies and legislation favorable to victimhood are encouraging a proliferation of new victim groups. This trend is also aided by media. News programs on National Public Radio often feature a human-interest segment about the plight of a downtrodden member of society who suffers because a government agency is unable to supply the help needed. Although we have compassion for these people, we would like for NPR to occasionally air a report about someone who overcame poverty and adversity as a result of their own efforts, diligence and hard work. In an earlier time in our history, stories by Horatio Alger, Jr. and others portrayed such events and were very popular with the public, even motivating scores to emulate the heroes of such stories.
But, today, more and more people are choosing to be a victim rather than a victor. Currently, in addition to the long-standing victim groups, we are witnessing the potential emergence of newer ones. Some that I have read about are Indigenous Peoples; Migrant Workers, Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgender persons, Wiccans and Satanists, and Obese Persons (their advocacy organization is NAAFA — National Association for the Advancement of Fat Acceptance!)
One of the newest and possibly strangest groups seeking victim status calls itself "Body Modification." It is composed of persons with tattoos and/or body piercings. Members of this fast-growing group usually have more than just a small tattoo on the forearm or ankle. Substantial portions of their bodies are covered with tattoos. They claim they are being discriminated against by workplace rules governing appearance and grooming. For example, a bank might have a policy forbidding excessive facial tattoos for its tellers and loan officers. Or a restaurant might demand that its waiters and waitresses remove their body piercings before serving food to customers.
Body Modification is proposing that the numerous Civil Rights laws be amended to include sanctions against organizations with policies restricting tattoos and body piercings. The Body Modification activists are rapidly gaining acceptance and may soon become a government sanctioned victim group subject to the all the preferences received by established victim groups. Body Modification even has its own website "BMEZINE.COM."
After government succumbs to the original demands of a victim group, it expands its demands until they eventually become unreasonable and begin to create unanticipated problems. In one case, the establishment capitulated to so many unreasonable demands by one victim group that a backlash victim group appears to be emerging. Feminists were able to convince schools and colleges that there was a serious gender crisis in education: young girls were being discriminated against and denied educational opportunities because of favoritism shown to boys. As we would expect, educators, diversity consultants, and pandering politicians began to grovel and soon our educational system was turned upside-down and revamped to placate feminists. Now, statistics show that boys are the ones whose educations are being stunted. So there are discussions underway in academia as to how the educational system can be changed to alleviate discrimination against male students, who might become a victim group.
Contrary to what we are told, special treatment for victim groups comes at a great cost to society. To monitor preferences for victim groups, bureaucracies have been created not only at the federal level but also the state and local level. Private organizations, in addition to hiring diversity consultants, have altered personnel policies to assure that members of victim groups receive preferential treatment. These bloated bureaucracies are paid in the form of increased taxes and the additional workplace costs are passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices for goods and services.
Congress and the White House have done nothing to ameliorate this problem. Indeed, whenever a law that was passed to appease a victim group reaches its expiration date, it is always renewed, whether it is still needed or not. (And when was the last time you read about Congress repealing a law?)
It is a scary thought but what will happen to the United States when members of victim groups equal or outnumber the rest of society as appears to be happening in Great Britain? We shouldn't assume that this can't happen and we should not expect Washington to take any action to prevent it.
October 30, 2006
Gail Jarvis [send him mail] is a free-lance writer.
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