Racism, sexual preference, and height

Liberty means embracing other people’s wild ideas. (Of course, let’s not confuse ideas with violence.) Here’s an easy one. Would you rather have sex with a man or a woman? Does that make you a sexist? Yes, it does. If racial preference means racism, then sexual preference means sexism. And maybe that’s not always a bad thing.

I heard this commercial this morning in which one line stuck out about how small business can end racism. I wasn’t paying attention to the commercial, so I don’t know what it was actually about. Small business won’t end racism. Maybe it can’t, but it won’t. Why? Human preference. It won’t change that preference remains unavoidable.

(Aside. My YouTube recommendations this morning led me through several TED talks by Malcolm Gladwell: The unheard story of David and Goliath, The strange tale of the Norden bombsight, and Choice, happiness and spaghetti sauce. Recommend. Malcolm Gladwell captivates with his storytelling approach and delivers unique insights. He also sounds a lot like comedian John Mulaney.)


When I was young, I juggled plenty of racism. It came with the bullying package I purchased when I chose my parents before birth. Not only was I smaller than everyone else, nerdier, and already socially awkward, but I was among the rare few Asians everywhere I went.

Despite regular bullying and generally not fitting in, I still scored straight-As up through around 10th grade (when I momentarily stopped giving a shit about school and life). Getting bullied was good training. Just like with my unattractive face, I play the game of life on hard mode like all the real rock stars in life.

In response to abuse, and out of a need for safety, many people as kids tend to swing the pendulum far to the other end. On racism, for example, I remember noticing other kids become racist (putting down others) and also become overly proud (putting themselves up). I remember reading an article about the KKK marketing itself not as anti-anyone but instead as pro-White.

As a kid, I argued that both stances prove unreasonable. Yes, I was that kind of nerd even as a child. Here’s why…

We conclude bigotry as unacceptable, why? Because one cannot choose his race, color, national origin, age, handicap, gender, sexual orientation or other protected class. Our genes and parents choose that for us. Therefore, we find bigotry unacceptable. If we do measure each other, we find it acceptable to measure on merit and not on race, color, national origin, age, handicap, gender or sexual orientation.

But what about pride? How different does it prove to put others down for things they cannot control than to put one’s self up for things he cannot control? Does one choose his parents, where he gets born or when? Or does that get chosen for him?


Today I find myself less inclined to argue against racism or other bigotry. I argue on reasonable applications of violence, but bigotry remains, in my opinion, a separate issue. Bigotry likely proves unavoidable as it remains a form of preference, and preference itself… well, one can’t avoid holding preferences about the world.

If you take a step forward, you do so with one foot or the other (or maybe somehow both or neither, if you’re a contrarian who’s reading this and trying to think of a third option). Whatever foot you step with first, that’s a preference. That’s a preference even if you’re not thinking about it. It’s a choice. It has an opportunity cost. You choose one at the cost of not choosing the other options. That’s a preference. Therefore, preference itself remains unavoidable.

We’re all racist, and maybe that’s okay. Here’s what I mean…

Imagine presenting (not asking) women with the choice between two men who, all else equal, differ in height (a non-voluntary characteristic of a person). Their selections (not verbal answers) will favor the taller man. This isn’t the best of thought experiments, but I think if we present any group with the option of an intimate partner along some narrowly-defined non-voluntary characteristic (like race), that same characteristic will affect preference – height, facial symmetry or physical disability for example.

Sexual preference like racial preference means bigotry. We can change those things today, sure, but that it’s irrelevant.