Universal Translator

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Libertas and Privilege

One of the things Terry Pratchett enjoys pointing out from time to time in his Discworld novels is that the term "privilege" actually derives from the phrase "private law."  For example, the term's most common definition is "a right, immunity or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most."  It is very similar, if not identical, to the concept of Libertas as explained by Colin Woodard and embraced by the antebellum Deep South.

To see an example of how "privilege" is conceived by the right-wing elite, check out this video from Right Wing Watch.org.  In it, Bill O'Reilly is approached by a community organizer after leaving a DC hotel where a Newt Gingrich fundraiser had been held.  The community organizer asks O'Reilly if he had just attended the fundraiser.  Instead of answering, O'Reilly turns and shoves his umbrella into the organizer's camera.  He then approaches a police officer and demands that the organizer be arrested.  Watch it:

Over at Washington Monthly Steve Benen reports the incident and merely comments:  "How very odd."  But I don't think it's particularly odd at all.  O'Reilly is clearly one of the right-wing privileged elite, and finds it outrageous that strangers can approach him in the street and ask him questions.  Of course, O'Reilly thinks the police exist to get rid of little annoyances like this for him.  And of course it never crosses his mind that he did, in fact, just commit battery on one of the "little people."

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