Friday, April 27, 2012


I've heard the idea kicked around by some people, primarily in dismissing the Tea Party and like-minded groups, that "These people just want some of that white privilege they've heard so much about," or some variant on that theme.

Then there's the idea of "underprivileged" - which generally means either poor or belonging to a minority group.

Then there's "male privilege."

But none of these are accurate.  Privilege is a legal term; it's not the opportunity to do something, it's the specific and legally granted right to do so.

Normalcy is not a privilege.  Being able to walk is not a privilege; I'm not privileged because I can walk through a door.  It's not an advantage I have.  People who are unable to walk are -disadvantaged-.  They are handicapped, in the literal meaning of the word.

Normalcy does not and should not begin at the worst state of being imaginable, which is what arguments in favor of things like "white privilege" come down to; somebody is privileged because they -aren't- disadvantaged in a particular way.  Such a mindset is that of somebody who pursues single-mindedly as a semblance of normalcy that is which wrong with themselves and with others.

As with affirmative action, the language and philosophy of privilege is such that, if everybody were systematically reduced to the worst state of being imaginable, the problem would be solved.  Meaning that it is a morally bankrupt philosophy and a poor criteria by which to define social problems.


  1. I think you are wilfully misunderstanding the term. privilege is ceratinly not just a legal term, it is an English word with many uses some even in the Computer Sciences - as far away from legal as you can get, except when talking patents

  2. Its uses in Computer Science are specifically derived from the legal sense of the word. Computer Science borrows much from legal language, particularly where programming contracts (see?) are concerned, which the privileged keyword is a component of.

    If you think there's another meaningful sense in which the word can be used, however, by all means. But even if you are successful, I challenge you this: Are the uses of this word outside its specific and legal meaning deliberately attempting to subvert their own meanings with the connotations associated with its legal meaning?

    That is, would anybody use its non-legal meanings if the word didn't have its legal meaning? "Advantaged" has all the same meanings -supposedly- intended by the use of the word "Privilege," but has fallen in relative disuse comparatively, in spite of the fact that it more precisely conveys the idea.

    No, I find such alternative meanings to be falsehoods, parasitic in their whole on the public perception of the generally understood meaning of the word.