Friday, June 1, 2007

Erythrophobia?

Human beings, being the vicious little apes that they are, will always manage to find reasons to persecute each other; and if they can't find them, they will invent them instead. So this story out of England, detailing the persistent harassment of a red- headed (or "ginger") family, isn't really all that surprising. Presumably their neighbours have already exhausted the store of available Jews, blacks, Catholics, homosexuals, vegetarians and train-spotters; and with all the beer money spent and only repeats of "EastEnders" on the telly, what other way to alleviate the boredom?

My mother, who grew up in Belfast, told me that when she was young red-haired men were considered unlucky, and therefore undateable, whereas over in Scotland they are associated with a volatile or violent temperament. I suppose you have to have just enough red-haired people around in a certain region so that they lose their novelty value, but also few enough that they can be safely marginalized as a group: this could explain why there is antagonism towards gingers in Ireland and the UK, but not so much in North America. Here in Cape Breton, for example, my little red-headed daughter only ever attracts admiration for her hair colour, although of course that might just be because she is so strikingly lovely (and as her daddy I can be relied upon for my unbiased opinion.)

Anyway, since God allegedly never closes a door without opening a window, I'd like to propose the following. How about I set about making it my life's work -- and naturally, my livelihood -- to combat this insidious bigotry? Following the recent trend of portraying politically incorrect opinions as pathologies, so that those who express them can conveniently be classed as mentally ill, I will call this new prejudice "erythrophobia", or "fear of the red". Having identified and named this condition, I will collect all the anecdotal evidence about the prejudice that I can find, get it published with the aid of a think-tank or social advocacy group, and present it to the government with a demand for immediate funding to combat the problem. (If they refuse or hesitate, I will accuse them of not caring enough about the prejudice, or perhaps even harbouring it themselves.) With the funding, I will create a permanent bureaucratic institution to hunt down ongoing instances of erythrophobia (see? it rolls off the tongue) and appoint "officers" (unarmed, alas) to document these cases and punish offending erythrophobes with fines and compulsory diversity training; and all the while my lobby group will pressure the government to include "hair-colour" as a protected minority status, and to amend the Charter of Rights to reflect that. --I won't think it unreasonable, considering my exemplary public service, to ask for a salary comparable to that of other senior bureaucrats, along with the usual travel and meal allowances, etc.

And did I mention by the way that I am left-handed? Now don't get me started on that...

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