I ran into someone, recently, who tried to argue that equality in terms of treating people equally is a bad thing. To prove his point, he showed me this picture:
On the surface, that picture makes you think he has a good point. The problem, though, is that the Equality side of the picture is seriously flawed. Can you see it? Think about it for a minute before continuing to read. See if you can catch it.
Got it? Don’t got it? Think you got it?
Okay, so here’s the deal with the Equality side of the above picture: While claiming to depict equality, it’s actually grounded in inequality, at least when it comes to the people. The illusion spun by the artist is in showing equality in the boxes rather than in the people, with a focus on the specific situation in the picture, like a magician that wants you to focus on one hand so you don’t see what he’s doing with the other hand. In the Equality picture, notice how the people aren’t equal in measurement. Instead, it shows equality in the boxes so that we relate equality to the boxes rather than to the people. To be blunt, this is wrong, and what the picture is doing is tricking you into thinking that equality is unfair. The situation, having a fence to see over, helps to sell the trick.
For this picture to work, Equality toward people should depict equal-sized people. An instance of inequality would be showing a lack of a box for at least one of the equal-sized people, which wouldn’t allow them to see over the fence. If the equal-sized people had different skin colors or genders, then you could see why a box for each of them represents equality. Imagine (or draw, if you’re feeling artistic) the words “Voter Rights – One Vote” on each of the boxes, and you’ll see what I’m getting at. Every individual of equal size should have a box to stand on; they each should have the same voter rights.
Now, while the Equity side of the picture does a fine job of depicting fairness, it can’t be used in comparison with Equality, even with the correction I’ve made here. For example, if each box on the Equity side is labeled “Voter Rights – One Vote,” then it wouldn’t be fair for the shortest person to have two votes, the mid-sized person to have one vote, and the full-sized person to have no votes. So, this comparison of Equality versus Equity falls down no matter which way a real comparison goes.
Unfortunately, it is rather easy to glance at the above picture and instantly believe that the artist is correct in giving the word “Equality” a negative meaning when compared to “Equity.” But before attaching yourself to a picture or saying, please analyze it and think about it. Ask yourself if it could be wrong and, if so, how. There are things that will look good and sound good but will actually be flawed, like the above picture. And it seriously pains me when I see people spreading these things because they appear good on the surface. It pains me even more when I see people up-voting this stuff. This is how misinformation is spread.
So, be careful not to be instantly taken in by something you see or read. Think about it. Analyze it. Try not to get caught up in the emotional connection you may have to it. Think for yourself. Trust your feeling. If it feels wrong, it just may be. It’s at least worth an analysis.