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Friday, 27 February 2015

Fallacy of Relative Privation and Heightism

Copy/pasted from here:

If you live in a first-world country you have likely heard somebody say that an issue doesn't matter because it's nothing compared to those "poor kids in Africa".

That is called the "fallacy of relative privation."

It appears to be used a lot to argue against heightism. Somebody states that they have been discriminated for their height and explains what heightism is, somebody is quick to say "Are you comparing what you deal with for being short to racism? When were short people enslaved?"

That is the argument of "your issue doesn't matter because others have it worse" is what university professors call a fallacy and will fail you (or give you a bad mark) for using.

Yes, black people were enslaved and gay people have been stoned to death. That is not okay. Saying that there is heightism is not saying that that racism and homophobia don't exist.

Just because there are other forms of discrimination does not mean that there isn't heightism.

A very simple example: stealing $50 is bad and stealing $1000 is worse. That does not mean that it is fine for someone to steal $50 from you if they also stole $1000 from me.


As for my own thoughts on this:

Even in the rare occurrence that someone acknowledges heightism is real (but not that serious), what the fallacy of relative privation causes is a general reaction such as, "sit tight and don't worry, we'll get to you once we're done with the more severe issues."

The secret is that they'll never be done with the other problems, because racism, sexism, etc. can never be fully eradicated. It's like telling people not to steal. Some will always do it anyway.

The other catch is that an issue doesn't have to involve anything like lynching for people to care. For example, weight discrimination is considered a social issue by enough people, to the point where it has a university course. There are more people who care about women's breasts being too large in video games than height discrimination.

While wage gaps and mental health are also taken seriously by society, heightism still isn't, despite involving those issues:
“Being short is probably as much, or more, of a handicap to corporate success as being a woman or an African American.”

"A 5-cm increase in height was associated with a 9% decrease in suicide risk."
The only thing that matters is whether or not an issue affects women. Fat people and video games are not racism or homophobia, but women are involved, so they will always have a following.

The fallacy of relative privation is just another shutdown tactic, nothing more. I have never used it to censor people who want to discuss things like fat shaming. Too bad we rarely receive the same courtesy.

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