Describe the state of the U.S. society as described in the first paragraph. How has "equality" been achieved?

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In the first paragraph of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s short story "Harrison Bergeron ," the US Constitution has been amended hundreds of times, and the last three Amendments require American citizens to be completely equal in every facet of life. The 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution require...

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In the first paragraph of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s short story "Harrison Bergeron," the US Constitution has been amended hundreds of times, and the last three Amendments require American citizens to be completely equal in every facet of life. The 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution require every citizen in America to have the same level of intelligence and physical ability (which conjures images of a mundane, oppressed society that lacks diversity and uniqueness). Vonnegut also writes that the completely equal society is also due to the vigilance of the US Handicapper General. In addition to amending the Constitution, the US Handicapper General is determined to maintain a completely equal society by handicapping the more talented, intelligent, and/or beautiful people. The US Handicapper General forces physically talented individuals to wear cumbersome weights on their bodies, and intelligent citizens are required to wear enormous headphones that continually disrupt their thought process. Beautiful people are required to wear ugly masks to ensure equality. There is a severe penalty for removing any of these handicaps.

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The year is 2081 and the narrator says that equality has finally been achieved. One of the things that sticks out in this opening paragraph is the claim that everyone is equal "before God." The department of the Handicapper General has the audacity to suggest that their implementation of "equality" has actually met with God's approval. This shows the extent of their hubris and the extent of their delusion about what equality in America should actually be. In American, the notion of equality is based upon equal rights and equal opportunity. But in this scenario, people are handicapped and/or discouraged from improving themselves. Their opportunities are squashed. If someone has a higher intelligence quotient, he/she is handicapped. The same goes for being too attractive or having too much physical ability. In a sense, they are all equal, but this equality is achieved by limiting and oppressing the people. Needless to say, an omniscient God would look at this society and see their notion of equality as a partial enslavement of the populace.

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