Thoughts on the P-word

“Prejudice.” Not the P-word you were thinking of?

Prejudice and bigotry have gotten a bad rap. This is mainly due to the efforts of the political correctness minority that seems to dominate much public discourse.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that certain kinds of prejudice aren’t Just Plain Wrong. The color of one’s skin doesn’t make one person better than another, generally speaking. Neither does one’s gender, or age, or any of several other things that make us different.

However, it’s idiotic (to put it mildly) to say that race, gender, age, or other things make no difference at all. We’re so concerned about offending “someone’s” sensibilities that we’re afraid to relate both absolutes and general, statistically supported facts. Nice, safe examples abound in the world of sports: Why are there no 72 year old NFL quarterbacks? Why are the tee boxes for the PGA and LPGA tours placed at different distances on the same courses? And please, someone tell me: why is it that the NBA has so few white men?

I submit to you that the answer is blindingly obvious: the things that make us different, well, make us different. Capable of different levels of performance, whether that’s in sports, work, or life in general. That should not discourage us from reaching for the things just beyond our grasp, or even far beyond our grasp, most of the time. Rather, we should be inspired by others around us, regardless of how they’re different, because sometimes we fail simply because we don’t aspire to something more than we can achieve.

My other point is that without a little prejudice, progress towards a decision is often painfully slow. Say you’re planning a family vacation to Orlando with the kids. You have limited time – say, only 3 days – in which to cram a few destinations, and it’s the first time you’re visiting the area. Is there anything at all wrong with immediately dismissing a thought to visit Cypress Gardens? Imagine how long it would take to come up with a multi-lateral decision that everyone would agree to… better to simply not bring it up.

Anyway, yes, it’s true that Cypress Gardens is re-outfitting with “37 exciting rides, including 4 roller coasters,” but you probably had Disney World (including how many parks now, exactly?) and Universal Studios at the top of the list. Those attractions alone are enough to chew up the better part of a week. Understand that I’m using this as a strictly hypothetical situation; I’ve visited (and enjoyed) Cypress Gardens. I’m merely pointing out that there are times when you’re going to make a snap judgment based on what little you know of something, and in all likelihood you’re going to be absolutely correct in that judgment. A little judiciously-applied bigotry can go a long way.

(Notice how I completely – well, almost completely – refrained from mentioning Windows/Macintosh, emacs/vi, and Tastes Great/Less Filling. We didn’t.?ed)

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