I wrote this just over four years ago, when I was blogging somewhere else. With the postal survey currently running and all the raging unpleasantness that’s come along with it, this seems like a really good time to revisit it.
They had a name for it, once upon a time. Sinister. People who wrote with their left hand. In every way, it was not right.
For ages, the majority of right-handed people tried to force the left-handers to be like them. Young people who showed a preference for writing with their left hand were forced to try and write with the “right” hand, to be like the rest. This was no more effective than it sounds.
Although it took a very long time, eventually most of the right-handers came to recognise that left handed people were just born that way, and there was no good to come from trying to make them be something they weren’t. It just made the left-handers miserable, and really did no good to anyone right or left-handed.
So left-handed people were allowed to write with their left hand, and most people went on with their lives and hardly thought about it again.
The hard-line right-handers continued to resist, and gritted their teeth and tried to ignore the left-handers and their writing in public left-handedly. But you have to draw the line somewhere. They sure as hell weren’t going to allow these left-handed freaks to paint left-handed. No way. Painting was the province of the good, right-handed folk. To let left-handed people paint would be the end of the world as we know it.
And many of the left-handed people didn’t care. They looked at the majority of the painting they saw that the right-handers had done, and said we don’t need to paint. We’re happy with our writing.
But some of the left-handed people did care. They had a strong desire to paint, to express themselves through painting. They wondered why their painting was forbidden. And when they asked, they were told “because it was decreed many years ago”. But many other things decreed then are no longer rules we live by, why is painting so important? “You might paint things that good right-handed people won’t like, and good right-handed people’s children might see your paintings. Your paintings might tempt right-handed children to be left-handed!”
And the left-handed people felt this was deeply unsatisfactory reasoning. Many right-handed people’s paintings were awful, just as many were good. And each painting was unique. The value of a painting was intrinsic to itself, the left-handed people said. The quality of our paintings doesn’t change the value of your paintings. They’re just our paintings. “No, only right-handed people can paint!”
Why? Will the left-handed people use up all the paint? “Well, no…”
Will letting left-handed people paint devalue your painting? “Yes it will.” Why? “Just, just because! Only right-handed people can paint.” Even if their paintings aren’t always good? Even if their paintings don’t stand the test of time? “Yes.” You realise that is very discriminatory? “Yes, but there are people who don’t want you to be allowed to paint. Important people who tell other people what to think and how to vote.”
But in more and more places, the right-handed majority began to realise that what they were espousing wasn’t fair. And the left-handed people who wanted to paint had a point. So in some places, they changed the rules and let the left-handed people paint.
Some of the left-handed people’s paintings were beautiful. Some of the left-handed people’s paintings were awful. But most of the left-handed people’s paintings were just average. Just like the right-handed people’s paintings.
And in those places, most people went on with their lives and hardly thought about it again.