Vonnegut and equality in 2081

In 1961, Kurt Vonnegut wrote “Harrison Bergeron”. It starts with the line, “The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal.”

In the story, the government has taken steps to make everyone equal. If you are graceful, you wear weights around your ankles. If you’re beautiful, you wear a mask.

The government’s Handicapper General, Diana Moon Glampers, will ensure you cannot use any of your outstanding qualities.

And if you are more intelligent, then:

“George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.

George and Hanzel we’re watching television. There were tears on hazels cheeks but she’d forgotten for the moment what they were about. On the television screen were ballerinas. A buzzer sounded in George’s head. His thoughts fled in panic, like bandits from a burglar alarm.”

Vonnegut would have never guessed our ears would be plugged all the time with noise and headphones, in noisy offices, chattering co-workers, with email, Facebook, and Twitter.

They divert us all day long way better than Glampers ever could.