Why are the authorities willing to eliminate such a threat as Harrison rather than exploit his talents?"Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Written in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement, Vonnegut's story "Harrison Bergeron" explores the dangers of holding others back so that some can rise.  In the society of 2081, individual civil rights are sacrificed in homage to the cultural value of mediocrity.  With three amendments to the Constitution having been passed, people have come to accept oppressive measures in the name of being made equal in mediocrity--even incompetence.

Because of these Constitutional Amendments which ensure that mediocrity prevails throughout society, the Handicapper General, Diana Moon Glampers, is, perhaps, herself mediocre.  Therefore, she would be most eager to eliminate a person of such superior charactersitics as Harrison Bergeron. In addition, Ms. Glampers probably also realizes the great power that television holds as it desensitizes its viewers to violence, or it shifts their thoughts.  When Harrison uses the medium of television with which to appeal to the people, Ms. Glampers also does not miss the powerful implications of his actions to exert thought-control.  So, she shoots him, realizing, too, that the audience will not feel the full impact of her violent act, anyway.

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