Victim Privilege

Harrison Phipps
  Opinions Editor 

Tyrants, dictators and kings all horde power over the people, forcing others to conform to their will. The primary issue with this system is the lack of self-determinism that would be present in the people otherwise.

The people like to be in charge of themselves, to determine their own direction and set their own path. The problem, then, lies with the institution of any power system outside of the self. However, without a power structure outside of the individuals, there can be no unbiased judgment.

Thus, we run into a dilemma as old as time itself: when does an individual maintain his agency and lose the perks of an outside system, and when does one bolster the external system?

Until recently, this contrast has been seen as a balance to be searched for; however more often than not you can find cases of someone trying to have their cake and eat it too via the path of victimization.

While being a victim is inherently bad, contemporaries have tried to redeem this. Where a victim is typically stripped of agency in the moment, many have attempted to use it as a badge of courage in order invert the typical power dynamic. I will refer to this as victim privilege

For instance, a man who has grown up and identifies as gay most likely has been a victim of discrimination, whether it be de jure or de facto. Nonetheless, because he has been a victim, he gains special privileges in order to exercise his will on the masses.

By his logic, because no one else can or will ever understand without having been through his life, they are ineligible to speak into the issue. Thus, his voice is the only valid one in any argument.

Postmodern thought is abominable in many ways, yet let us endeavor to explore this dynamic through that very lens.

If everyone is seeing things through a lens and no one experiences anything in quite the same way, and each person sees his upbringing and persecution in a unique way; it would hold that even given similar circumstances no two people experience things the same specific way.

Because no two people experience the world or their lives the same way, by the victim-privilege logic, this limits the scope of what each person is able to speak of, as no one else would understand.

Therefore, any given person may only speak of the circumstances of their own situation, and  because of this they may not dictate any of those views on others, as those views solely apply to the self and how that individual wishes to dictate things.

To summarize, because no one can experience the exact same things in the exact same way, one can only speak on their own situations and cannot expect their sphere of influence to extend outside of that.

The problem, here, is that the experience of the self has gotten far too out-of-line with any form of thinking that makes sense. One cannot be fully protected by an outside source and have absolute sovereignty over their life.

All of this said, it does not mean that people cannot be upset about injustice, such as discrimination and abuse. It is right to have that reaction to it. On a large scale, people do share similar experiences with prejudice of many kinds, and that is horrendous. People should fight to end that.

However, it is entirely unjust to make a claim to special power and privilege simply because of being victimized. While a victim might understand things better and have a different opinion on things, that opinion should be held the same, and respected the same as any other.

If this is followed, the only thing to worry about is the tyranny of the majority. The way to fight this is to make sure that all of the individuals in the majority are morally responsible. For instance, although the 99 percent might wish to take from the 1 percent, if the majority is morally responsible, they would recognize that it is wrong for them to take what is not theirs.

The ultimate question of victimization, then, is how to instill the sort of moral education and guidelines that would facilitate the eradication of victim privilege and heighten proper morality on the part of the populace.

What is important to realize is that victims are no longer victims if they have power from their victimization, and the needless kowtowing to the persecuted minority is not the real solution, but is a quick-fix to the real transformative action that is needed in society.


Categories: Columns, Opinions, Uncategorized

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