I’m Pro-Discrimination and so Are You

by Clint Roberts

You want to hear a confession? Today I committed blatant discrimination. I did it knowingly and on purpose. And it wasn’t the first time. In fact I practice discrimination regularly and without remorse.

But I’m not the only one. I know for a fact that other people do it, too – ALL other people, yourself included. How could I make such a charge? I’m not trying to offend people unnecessarily. The title of this blog is not a typo. Everyone discriminates, necessarily and rightly so.

Like most words, “discriminate” has a long history. Its usage predates our contemporary social and political context in which it is almost always meant as a damning accusation of bigoted mistreatment of a person or group. My initial confession was not as bold or scandalous as the impression it probably gave, since I was not admitting to the kind of wrongful discrimination I just described.

How Do We Discriminate? Let us Count the Ways

Life would be extremely difficult for the person who is unskilled at the practice of discrimination. Look up the word and you will find that its Latin root refers to discerning or making distinctions. These “dis-” words are more or less synonymous. When you discriminate between things, you distinguish them, you discern between them. The verb is versatile enough to be ‘transitive’ (taking a direct object, as in “It was hard to discriminate Lucy from her twin Lacy.”), or ‘intransitive’ (needing no direct object, as in, “When it comes to hiring new employees, we do not discriminate”).

But enough of the grammar lesson. What I want to impress upon you is that “to discriminate” is not always wrong. In fact, given the plain meaning of the word, apart from the connotations reinforced in popular media today, discrimination is a requirement for all sane people. We cannot help but do it all of the time. Here are some reasons we do it …

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I’m Pro-Discrimination and so Are You