Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Rich MAKE the laws, they don't ABIDE by them.

Amanda linked to an article that atrios linked to yesterday:

"I don't think you should be so `rah-rah' for a war that you aren't willing to send your own family members to,'' said Rose Gonzalez, 30, of Somerville, whose mother, a state employee, was deployed to Iraq in January.``If he thinks the war is so just and so important and we shouldn't pull out, then he should encourage his own sons to go."

and made an excellent point about privilege that Sally, in comments, really distilled for me in a way that made the whole argument applicable to all the ways in which the rich exempt themselves from their own laws...or rather, create oppressive rules/laws that they know that they will never be obligated to adhere to.

I think it was actually Amanda herself who responded "That's a tough concept for an 8-year old" when I told her about the conversation I had with Monk about theft and class. I am sure she didn't intend to imply that I shouldn't give the explanation to Monk, and she was certainly right that it's a tricky thing to explain. However, when Monk said to me "I know why poor people steal, mom." with an authoritativeness that implied that rich people do not, someone had already taught him the opposite lesson. The double-standard is so fucking pervasive that somehow my relatively media-free 8-year old has already been taught his first lessons about crime, visible punishment, and pseudo-moral exemption.

To universalize this particular link, abortion, too, is one of those "Not For My Kind Of People" issues. Not because rich women can avoid getting pregnant (although, as I am convinced that republican men are just awful in bed, it might be easier for rich women to do just that) but that the means to terminate a pregnancy for a rich woman is never in question, and it's not REALLY abortion when you are rich.

I'm sure there are a good number of ways that you can apply this rule of lawlessness. War. Theft. Death Penalty. The so-called murder of the unborn. Drug Abuse. It's not just that it's easier to get away with things when you have the means to do so; it's that if you believe in the meritocracy (which I doubt anyone REALLY does, so you just have to pretend to believe it as earnestly as possible) damnit it sure justifies a lot of bullshit if you can just say "I earned my privilege through hard fucking work, and those others just need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and keep chugging along."

Edited To Add: Suzanne mentions via AIM: "just reading your post re: theft and class and remembering that I once worked for an ObGyn Dr's group in a very rich part of SF and the abortions were called Therapeutic Dilation and Curettage or TDC's. Women were scheduled for these all the time."

crossposted at my blog

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