Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


I spent so long writing this that I didn’t think of a title – Ryan

There are so many controversial topics out there, and oh so many that I am so strongly opinionated about but today for this post about logic I have decided that I’m going to get a little personal with the class. Of course I could have played it safe, but where’s the fun in that.

I would like to pre disclose, before digging myself into a hole so deep that I can’t see the sun, that the following opinions are not shared by me. I only wish to strengthen the opinions of other people by sharing such an unpopular (for so many obvious reasons) opinion and argument about a rather sensitive topic.

Not too long ago during a debate of sorts about political correctness in class I decided to play devil’s advocate, and to an extent I greatly regret doing so. Now, I in no way regret sharing the point of view that I did (I feel as if it lead the class down an interesting path that ended with some upset people but also some new wisdom shared throughout the class. Would it be crude to relate it to the break a few eggs to make an omelet idea?), however I do regret drawing a target the size of Texas on my back.

For those of you that weren’t in the class during block two on that one particular day here’s a little more context; we as a class had been talking about political correctness specifically through the lense of gender equality and LGBTQ+  opinions.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a feminist. That being said I believe just about any educated and caring human being should identify as a feminist, it’s just right. I strongly believe that any civil individual who doesn’t actively oppress female individuals should identify as a feminists, so long as it’s understood that females are actually human too. Anyone who does not respect female individuals and their rights should be labelled a sexist (Why does there need to be a middle ground? Either you do or you don’t….right?).

Seems kinda right to add this likeminded meme. First and last meme I'll ever post

Seems kinda right to add this likeminded meme. First and last meme I’ll ever post

However, I am also still straight, white and male and there’s not a whole lot I can or will do about that. I do feel the need to address the fact that an individual can actually identify as all of the above at one time.

Anyway, at some point during that particular part of our class conversation I decided to speak up. I remember taking pauses that felt like they lasted for minutes between each and every word as I did my best to verbally walk my way through a minefield without blowing off my own legs, as I tried to be politically correct as possible while I identified a potential flaw in the idea of political correctness itself that referred specifically to the gender and LGBTQ+ discrimination issues in the world.

I brought to attention the uncommon argument that a small few of the  ‘majority power’ people of the world believe. This very same minority of the majority are the people who (intentionally or unintentionally, I really don’t know) ruin the image of the rest of us straights, whites, and males. I can only speculate that this group are also the few remaining people still supporting the horrifying ideas and policies (calling them policies really feels like a stretch) of presidential candidate Donald Trump. If it’s not clear by my tone of writing when I bring him up, I am in no way a Trump supporter. That being said, for as long as I can remember I’ve been taught to look at all sides of an argument before making a stand. I can see why some people believe Trump is what America needs (I won’t go into any detail on this post, feel free to seek me out or comment if you’d like to hear more?) . I don’t agree with them but just by seeing their opinion I’ve made my own opinion of the matter stronger. The same goes for that one day in philosophy, and I hope that by saying what I did that I strengthened the view of others in the class as well.

I can’t remember word for word exactly what I said all those days ago but I can certainly point out the premises and conclusion I was trying to get across.

Premise: LGBTQ+/Gender/racial minorities can poke fun at or make fun of straight/male/whites as well as make fun of themselves.

Premise: True equality in the human race would mean each and every individual would be treated the same, regardless of any and all defining qualities, and have equal ability as well.

Premise: Straight/Male/Whites can not poke fun at or make fun of LGBTQ+/gender/racial minorities as well as make fun of themselves.

Conclusion: Therefore an ‘ideal’ equal world would mean that straight/male/whites should be able to poke fun at or make fun of LGBTQ+/gender/racial minorities.

Now It’s an oversimplified example of a much more expansive argument, basically as bare bones as can be. I’ve spent hours reading over and editing the premises and conclusion again and again yet I still feel as if it’s not nearly as complete as it should be for such a controversial opinion on such a controversial topic.

Again, this is NOT MY OPINION. I can however understand that it does have some argumentative merit. As it stands (in its barest possible form) above the argument presented is technically valid it’s when it comes to factual correctness that things get a little more complicated. Personally in my own circles I’ve found that the premises are actually sometimes factually accurate and correct, I cannot speak for other people, nor do I intend to, but from time to time my experiences with my own friends (a vast majority of whom do fit into at least one of the above stated ‘minorities’ or another and all of whom I love equally) have proved this to be fact. Not always, just occasionally. That’s likely not be the case in all circles though and it is unlikely that I’ll ever find any confirmed answer regarding whether or not it is.

Because of the arguments fickle factual correctness it is a stretch to consider it a sound argument, as a sound argument does need to be not only consistently valid but consistently factually correct as well, and the above argument is simply unreliable concerning the latter of the two requirements. No matter how many different methods of arguing are employed, the case should reflect the same outcome every time.

Now that we’ve gotten that solved, and after saying so many times that the above argument was not mine, I feel it’s a near necessity to actually share my own opinion on the sensitive subject. In all honesty it’s not entirely unique, in fact it only really has the minimal and minute difference of a single word. It is however an entirely different perspective because of the one small change. It was because of a great class conversation a few years ago with Mr. Jackson (way back in my Talons days) that actually lead me down my path to my very passionate and strong opinion.

I do not believe any minority group should be striving for equality (maybe such a sweeping generalization is too strong?), because after all equal is not actually synonymous with fair. Often times the two terms overlap but it needs to be said that they are not interchangeable.

Think about it this way; James and Jenny Doe are happily married and expecting child. They both have near identical desk jobs at some office building near their nice suburban home and are both being paid exactly the same. Jenny is fully aware that sooner or later she is going to have to take time off for maternity leave. James understands this and feels that he is entitled to equal time off (paternity leave if you will). This example is equal, they both get the same time off, but is it fair? No. It is an unrealistic expectation to believe a woman should still work while with child. It is unsafe for not only the child but the mother as well, and possibly coworkers as well. A man does not have to go through the whole nine months of physically supporting a child inside his body, therefore poor James Doe should not be entitled to equal time off in this situation.

Instead I propose and believe that every minority group, and for that matter every individual in the world, should be striving for equity. Equity is defined as the quality of being fair and impartial whereas equality is defined as the state of being equal or the same in all categories.

An equitable community would be one that does recognize individuality as well as individual strengths and weaknesses but also does not discriminate against anyone. Consider this for an example of equitability. Jack Doe (James and Jenny Doe’s son) is a 12th grade student in highschool who spends his free time playing rugby for his school. Jacob Doe is his 10th grade brother who is younger (Obviously), smaller and less experienced than his brother when it comes to the sport but beyond that more less the same. They have equal skill levels and because of that Jacob decides he wants to play on the senior team. Because he’s a good player despite his youth he’s allowed to. This upsets Jack who has recently been thinking that he’d like an easier time while playing the sport so Jack gets the idea to try and play down on the junior team. He’s confident that his experience as a senior, not to mention his larger size, will make his time in the junior team a lot easier for him. The coach thinks this is shady business and tells Jack he can’t play on the junior team. This is certainly not equal seeing as they both can’t change teams, but it is equitable (and fair) because it’s allowing a youthful skilled player a challenging opportunity among people of similar skill levels but refusing a sneaky senior player from using his experience as an unfair advantage over the junior teams.

Imagine it like this, using the circle method, some pretty colours, and my boundless artistic ability with MS Paint.

In philsophy-circlesthis particular case blue represents equity, red represents fairness, yellow represents equality, orange represents both fairness and equality, purple represents equity and equality, and lastly white represents all three. The only missing colour is green because something cannot be both equal and equitable without also being fair.

I feel that as a population we should be aiming for either the blue, purple or white areas of the diagram. Now I’m not sure if everyone will agree, or if anyone will for that matter, but regardless I don’t write this with the intent of swaying anyone and their ideals, instead I write this simply to share my own opinion in a way I feel that I wasn’t able to the first time around in class.

There’s so much more that needs to happen before we reach that utopian world of fairness and equity and I’m aware of that. I am also aware that there’s so much more I feel should be said but I also understand that I’m already running rather long and I would also like to save something for the comments. With that being said I will leave just one image that I feel accurately depicts the latter half of this specific post.


6 Responses to I spent so long writing this that I didn’t think of a title – Ryan

  1. sarah says:

    I must say that I agree with your opinion quite a lot, although I must mention that there are instances where equality is necessary, and for good reason. Let’s talk about the fire fighter test. Many people take this test, but there seems to be an overwhelming number of men compared to women who pass this test. Taking this test will see if you fit all of the requirements that you ABSOLUTELY NEED if you are to be a firefighter, so the test is exactly the same for everyone who takes it. If the fire fighter test followed the rules of equity (meaning that weights would be lowered, etc. to give women the same chances of passing as men) I assure you that there would be certain women who passed the test who would not meet the physical requirements of a fire fighter. This would actually be rather dangerous, so in this particular situation I think that equality over equity is valid. Still, I have heard many instances of people fighting for equity in this area despite this. What are your opinions on this issue?

    • ryank says:

      Thanks so much for taking the time to compose a comment Sarah, especially about a topic as interesting as the physical testing standards of firefighters, I really appreciate it and I do see what you’re saying. In the unlikely event I find myself trapped in a burning building I’d like the firefighter (male, female, or otherwise) in charge of carrying me out to actually be able to do so, and I’m not exactly a lightweight. I think that it’s a very important thing to consider the third party involved in a real firefighting situation, the people at risk.
      One standard for all in firefighting physical tests may seem unfair to some of the people attempting to take the test but I personally believe it is that way because if it is not then it has the potential, in a real world situation, to be unfair to the citizens stuck in a burning building or any other dangerous position. That’s when things go wrong, right? Regardless of age, sex, gender, or any other distinguishing trait it makes sense that a firefighter is capable of carrying a limp body out of a burning building. It may seem somewhat discriminatory considering a male in most cases naturally has a stronger cardo-vascular system and that may make certain tasks easier than it would be for a female and I see that. In some cases I have heard of people appealing for this process to be changed to a more equitable one and I honestly don’t mind. Changing the required time limit for a two kilometre run in the test from ten minutes for males to eleven minutes for females seems entirely reasonable to me and I’m all for that if it means more female firefighters. Before I proceed however I would like to look further into what these physical tests actually entail.


      Above is a link to a pdf document composed by the Burnaby Fire Department about one of their four specific physical testing standards. I feel like understanding what these kinds of tests are like is a near necessity when speaking about them so I’ll just leave that there.
      Honestly the above test doesn’t seem all that unreasonable. It seems, as I’m sitting here now, like a physically fit person of any applicable age, gender, etc. would manage to make it through with little difficulty. Sure they’d probably be breaking a sweat by the end of it but a firefighter should learn to take the heat, no? After looking over the above test I’m actually curious to see how well I’d manage in such a physical test, but that’s something for another time.

      Despite this I have one specific example of this equal standard of testing being slightly altered in the cause of equity. Tawney Meiorin had been a female forest firefighter for just about three years when she had to undergo a physical fitness standard aerobics test that involved running two and a half kilometers in under eleven minutes. Time after time again she tried and just about every time she was around thirty seconds to a full minute over the required time. This resulted in her losing her job and further resulted in her appealing that her firing from the department was classified as constructive discrimination because of physiological differences as well as the fact that after three years she had never once had to run at such a pace during the job. The court tribunals after some time overturned the decision to fire her and allowed her back onto the firefighting force because they realized that such a test was not a bona fide necessity for the matter at hand. I’m sure I could keep trying to describe it, but if anyone is truly interested I recommend they read more about it by clicking the link I’ll post right here.


      In conclusion, I think when it comes down to physical standards of firefighters, police officers, military personal and anything else similar that one equal standard for either gender is warranted because otherwise other bystanders and/or victims could be unjustly put into harm’s way. It’s really an interesting point to bring up and I’d love to hear more about how you personally perceive it.
      Until then, Ryan.

      • sarah says:

        I apologize for having not read up more on this issue before my comment, but I will be sure to read the links in your reply soon. I realize that the argument I made relys on the notion that every physical requirement is actually reasonable according to what a person needs to do for their job. The case of Tawney Meiroin, of which you mentioned, challenges that notion, and it seems to me that her grievance is valid because the test she took was not aligned with what is actually needed for her job. There is an argument that challenges this that I am tempted to bring up, despite how I don’t exactly agree with it. That opinion may be that even if someone had never had to be able to do something for the job before doesn’t mean that they won’t need it in a future incident. I don’t think I phrased that argument well enough to do it justice, but someone who holds this opinion could make it rather tricky to argue that certain physical tests have their standards set too high in certain areas due to the fact that no one has actually needed a certain requirement to be set to a certain height. What do you think about this opinion?

        -S.E. Doyle

  2. yuryv says:

    Hey Ryan, haven’t seen you in over 3 hours.. hope everything is well.
    I like how in-depth you went as well as how carefully you addressed the rather tough topic.

    Could you provide some examples of potential solutions to: “There’s so much more that needs to happen before we reach that utopian world of fairness and equity” I’m curious as personally, I wouldn’t know where to even begin.

    So if I follow the train of thought correctly… your logical argument is saying that every minority should be open to jokes about their beliefs as they have the ability to poke fun at others (which would make it okay as the argument claims). Please correct me if I interpreted it wrong.
    Also, I like how you used the example of the two soccer players, it is very easy to understand and to relate back to your argument.

    Good job, it is very clear you put a lot of thought and work into this, see you tomorrow morning!

  3. JordanC says:

    Hey great post Ryan! I really enjoyed reading your opinion on the equality/equitability phenomenon. I had a slight point to make that your syllogism didn’t really cover though. The origins of LGBT people making jokes about straight people and themselves are used very much as a coping method a la Mark Watney using humour to cope with being left for dead on Mars in The Martian. I know when I make jokes about my “male privilege” (mostly how big my pockets are and how many phones I can fit in them) it helps me deal with like, transphobes and such. In contrast, most jokes made by straight people about LGBT people are outlets for homophobia in a way that can be brushed off as “just a joke man” at the first sign of offense. I know it’s difficult to very in-depth when writing syllogisms and that you do not share the opinion of your conclusion but I just wanted to bring this up for anyone who may not be aware of these origins as otherwise the argument does seem fairly valid. Thanks for the post!

  4. ericj says:

    Hi Ryan,
    I thought your post was really interesting, and I’m glad you took the time to talk about an intriguing, yet touchy subject. It’s awesome that you can decided to look from the viewpoint that doesn’t align with your own, opening the perspective to more than one side.

    If I understand correctly, the premises you used were factually incorrect, and therefore took away from the soundness of your conclusion. Could you clarify which premises you deemed as false (and why)? To me, the argument you proposed (albeit not of your own opinion) is factually correct, but the validity of your conclusion can sway based on one’s views of the word ‘ideal’.
    It was clear what your thoughts on ‘ideal’ were, stating that a “utopian world” is one of equity, which you defined as “fair and impartial”.
    I’d like to question exactly what is fair?
    Is it fair that one group of people is allowed to make fun and insult another group of people, but not vice versa? What if it is a minority putting down and joking about other minority group? Would that be okay?
    What about equity in society as a whole? If each individual is contributing the same amount to society, isn’t it fair that each receive the same services as everyone else?
    Why is it fair then, for the government to tax those who contribute the most to society, to redistribute the majority of services for those who don’t pay taxes?
    I don’t think the James and Jenny scenario fully demonstrated social equality, but more of an extreme. James did not get time off because he WAS NOT pregnant. Jenny is given time off because she IS pregnant. Equality isn’t just everyone gets the same thing (because certain things like pregnancy don’t apply universally ). Instead, i perceive equality as more like everyone has the same tests/standards to ensure fairness. (same ruleset in a sense)
    Equality means all pregnant people deserve a certain amount of time off, regardless of their position/race/gender/age. Isn’t that fair?
    Thanks again for bringing up some interesting thoughts, and I hope we can discuss about this further.


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