When Vonnegut wrote "Harrison Bergeron" in 1961, he was satirizing the 1950s and its emphasis on conformity, but the story remains relevant today. We still live in a society that would rather "dumb things down" to a norm than challenge people to think harder or reward excellence.
For example, intellectual ability is still dismissed as unimportant in this country. A presidential candidate, for example, has to eat fries at a diner to show he is "real," as if this kind of ability to relate to the average Joe is more important to being electable than demonstrating experience and competence.
As they enter adolescence, young people often hide their abilities and talents in order to fit into the group. They may not wear a device that sends a ringing noise into their heads every few seconds, but they might impair their brains with drugs and alcohol.
Groupthink often becomes as much of a leveler as wearing lead weights. People in this country will sometimes hold to beliefs that the scientific...
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