Not Slavery (Originally Published 11/2/11)

Here we are again, taking a bad situation and trying to paint it as something it's not.

Things are bad for many people in the west and around the world. I can't stand that I have to say that, but I don't want people to say, “Maaan, you're on the side of the 1%!” Of course not.

But the fact is: You know what's slavery? Slavery. And that's it. (Sex slavery is slavery too, of a particular sort. Our situation is not sex slavery either, but at least no one's saying that.)

Metaphorical chains ARE NOT CHAINS.

It does suck that people have to push themselves to work far longer than they should have to, that people are deeply in debt after being pushed around by people with far more power and influence.

And if they choose not to pay, they wouldn't have their homes, or their food. Things would indeed get far worse.

But if you can go home (note: obviously there are millions of homeless out there...), and spend time with your family, and you are not under constant threat of literal death (not metaphorical death, or gradual, eventual ruin), you're not an actual slave.

Is there a master and/or an overseer who will kill you – as in, end your life – if they find out you're particularly intelligent?

Can you vote? (And having very poor choices between candidates is not the same as not being legally allowed to vote.)

Are you forced to live on a plantation and work without pay? Not for little pay, but without pay at all?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” you are not a slave.

I write this not to diminish the actual struggles of millions of people. I write this to criticize hyperbolic silliness like this video that, in its first thirty seconds, ruins its entire thesis by referring to our situation as “literal” slavery.

This is a Princess Bride situation: people keep using that word, and it does not mean what they think it means.

The fact of the matter is, invoking slavery is like invoking Nazis: it's rarely if ever justified and it just makes the speaker look clueless. So, let's stop it.

Peace and love,
Justin PBG


Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality