Hugo Rifkind

Check my privilege? I have, thanks. You’re still wrong

8 June 2013

9:00 AM

8 June 2013

9:00 AM

This week, I bring you a dispatch from the frontline of pseudo-intellectual, metropolitan navel-gazing. This is, after all, what you pay me for. So right now the big thing for people who consider themselves warriors against nasty isms and phobias (of the sexism and homophobia varieties, not the Blairism and arachnophobia varieties) is to undermine each other constantly via accusations of intrinsic privilege.

‘I am a feminist!’ declares somebody, via a book or blog or Tumblr or tweet.

‘Aha!’ retort others, ever vigilant for this sort of thing. ‘But have you canvassed the views of Somalian refugees who are weekending female impersonators in Anglesea?’

‘Um, no?’ replies our proto-feminist.

‘Check your privilege!’ retort the angry denizens of cyberspace. ‘You are a tool of the patriarchy! Go to hell!’


Seriously. That’s how it works. No, I don’t know what they get out of it either.

Granted, you may be wondering why you should give a damn. ‘This is The Spectator, Rifkind,’ you may be thinking. ‘Let the radical left undermine each other however they please.’ But I’m afraid intervention is required. For one thing, this instinct — to shriek ‘check your privilege!’ at anybody who says anything and then consider this the end of an argument — is pernicious, and spreading, to the extent that it’s only a matter of time before somebody does it in a newspaper that isn’t the Guardian. More importantly, it’s simply screamingly annoying when people piously employ arguments they don’t understand at all. Wrongness I can stomach. Incoherence of wrongness, not so much.

It comes, all this stuff, from the vogueish notion of intersectionality — the contention that hardly anybody who is marginalised is marginalised for just one reason, and if you focus on the main reason for their marginalisation then the more marginalised bits of their marginalisation end up being more marginalised still. (God, but it’s fun on the left. I mean, isn’t it?) As theories go, this one isn’t wholly mad. The trouble is, it has become faddish among people who don’t read books or essays but merely tweets and internet comments, and thus don’t know what they are talking about. So what you end up is with a kind of minority Top Trumps, and a sort of spreading, infectious belief that the more box-tickingly disadvantaged a person is, the wiser, kinder and more all-seeing they must be. And it’s stupid.

In truth, as anybody who has ever been mugged can tell you, society’s most disadvantaged can be right bastards. Indeed, they’re often right bastards to each other. Certainly, mainstream society might harbour issues with, say, Islamic fundamentalists and post-op transsexuals for similar reactionary conservative reasons. But this does not entail, much as the dumb left might wish it did, that these two groups are thus each other’s natural allies. I mean, come on. Think more. Sometimes, your enemy’s enemy is even worse than him.

What’s revealing, though, is the ease with which this kind of gibberish takes root among the online, Laurie Penny-ish cyberleft. In a vacuum, ‘Check your privilege!’ is a perfectly reasonable request, merely asking people to consider the possibility that their own background or experiences might have some bearing upon their views. But Christ, what kind of solipsistic nutjob isn’t doing this anyway? Personally, I sometimes feel like I preface every second article with a frank disclosure of who I am and where I come from. Even for those less defensive, it’s basic human courtesy to at least bear such things in mind.

The fact that ‘Check your privilege!’ has even become a thing is symptomatic of the modern tragedy of the British left. This is what happens to a political movement when it gets colonised by sanctimonious, humourless, self-loathing middle-class hypocrites, perhaps of just the sort I’d be myself if I were devoid of any irony, wit or self-knowledge. You can imagine them all having it scrawled on to Post-it notes stuck up on the top of their monitors, without which they’d all be in genuine danger of forgetting that the world included people not like them. Or so I think, but maybe it’s just my privilege to have been brought up acutely aware of my privilege. Who knows?

The snoopers’ error

Eeek! The snooper’s charter is back from the dead! And still, for some reason, its advocates don’t seem able to grasp that the objections stem not from what they want to do, but from the manner in which they wish to do it.

It’s not about your web history, they say, or your browsing habits or anything like that. Rather, again and again, they use the analogy of telephones. The idea is that the law currently facilitates monitoring when terrorists or criminals ring each other, but not when they Skype each other or send emails. And, as Theresa May keeps telling us, all they want to do is bring the latter into line.

I believe her. But internet communications traffic is not distinct from other internet traffic. If you want to record some of it, you’ve got to record all of it. So if you want to stick with this telephone analogy, what this entails is not just the equivalent of recording details of whom you call, but something more like the equivalent of recording absolutely everything you ever do in any room of your house that has a telephone in it.

Then the assurance seems to be that the police and security services would somehow sift through all this, and only properly look at the bits they’d promised to. But they wouldn’t, would they?

Hugo Rifkind is a writer for the Times.

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Show comments
  • E Hart

    Tell me something, what’s the difference between ‘intrinsic privilege’ and ‘privilege’ other than the manifestly privileged use of a privilege tautology by the privileged? Sorry, couldn’t resist it. Still, it’s better than ‘spreading privilege’. That’s just inanely privileged. That’s pure Beckett, that one.

    • Hugo Rifkind

      Good question. I’d say that “privilege” is something you can renounce or choose not to use, whereas “intrinsic privilege” benefits you whether you exploit it or not. Maybe.

      • E Hart

        The basis of privilege, bear with me, I don’t speak from experience, is that it requires no agency. It is its own agency. Ergo, lifting a finger or getting the butler to do it, is neither here nor there. It just is. I remember listening to Desert Island discs some time ago. The guest, whose name escapes me, described bumping into an old friend of his in the Haymarket. The conversation got round to what they were doing – the subject said he’d recently returned from France and was ‘at a bit of a loose end’, whereby the friend said: “How do you fancy editing The Times?” Job done. I did a double take and reset my jaw. Have I missed something? It would have seemed like a breach of proximity to most of us but to the parties concerned it was as natural as breathing. Still, it is very difficult to be incognito when you’re cognito.

  • Louise McCudden

    Why did you choose to make up a “ha ha it would be so funny if people said this” quote? Why not use a real example of when people actually said that? Presumably you could find one…

    • Hugo Rifkind

      For an amusing intro. You’d be amazed how boring real people can be.

      • Louise McCudden

        So people actually do say things that ridiculous? Or you are exaggerating and making it up? I’m not being a pain, I just don’t think those quotes are typical of the people (like Black Feminist UK, Reni Eddo Lodge, Roz Kaveney, etc etc) who use this language. It’s a tiny bit on the verge of being a straw man argument isn’t it….

        • Hugo Rifkind

          No, of course they don’t. It’s a caricature, highlighting the absurdities. A bit like the sketch of my face at the top of this page.

          And, to be fair, I’m not critiquing intelligent theorists who use this sort of language, and there are a few. I’m talking about it’s unthinking (and frankly mistaken) adoption by the mob.

          • Louise McCudden

            Why is people using language in a rude/bad way on twitter unique to “privilege checking” or “intersectionality” though? There are plenty on both sides of all debates who do this. So why has it been turned into a specific comment on being aware of your privilege? And why are you focusing on a minority of hypothetical funny uses of the word when the word has actually been used meaningfully and been very important to a lot of real people?

          • Hugo Rifkind

            It, um, isn’t. It’s just how I write. Other weeks I write about other things. Sorry.

          • Louise McCudden

            Yeah you have, though! You’ve written about “privilege checking”, quite specifically, and not mentioned the majority of people who use the term in a completely reasonable, sensible way, for completely valid, important,. fair, relevant reasons. Instead, you’ve dismissed “privilege checking” and the whole idea behind it (“I’ve checked my privilege and you’re still wrong” “who isn’t doing this anyway?” – a lot of people incidentally) based around a generalisation of it, and some quotes you made up, which make those people sound like the butt of a joke.

            If the hypothetical attitudes you’re talking about are not unique to “privilege” and “intersectionality” (they’re obviously not), and many, even most people using the terms, do talk about “privilege” and “intersectionality” don’t actually use the terms in that way (the way you’re making fun of), then why are you using that hypothetical, generalised use of the terms to dismiss them?

          • Hugo Rifkind

            First, I didn’t write the headline. People never do. Secondly, I don’t agree, at all, that a “majority” of people do this. A majority of people use it idiotically, which is my point. And third, I haven’t dismissed the whole idea behind it at all. Like I said, I think intersectionality is perfectly sensible right up until it decides that the oppressed must have common purpose. Because, while it would be nice if they did, they glaringly don’t.

          • Louise McCudden

            Sometimes I write my own headlines 😉 But I am still puzzled about why you would imply language and terminology is used in a particular way, when it’s usually not. And I don’t think “intersectionality” is as simple as saying “the oppressed have common purpose” either? It’s just saying that oppressions intersect, and we should be aware that, say, lesbians face certain types of misogyny that straight women might not, or that in feminist spaces we don’t make racist jokes, or we make sure to make abortion facilities or legal advice centres wheelchair accessible, etc. It’s quite straight forward really and I don’t get why it upsets people so much to have a word for it.

          • darwins beard

            Because there already is a word/words for it 1) white guilt (foreign aid) 2) middle/upper class guilt(see Laurie Penny for prime example) 3) white middle/upper class guilt( any member of the SWP/UAF) and so on, in a few weeks it will be something else

          • stevealbury

            This actually reads like a spoof of what the article is about – how many articles from the radical left are written about the marginalisation and exclusion of old people – not many, because what this is really about is facile moral posturing not a genuine interest in addressing genuinely serious issues – and I think not making racist jokes might be something you extend to your life outside ‘feminist spaces’ –

            a feminist space is of course itself a construct that excludes and marginalises the ‘other’ but then I suppose that’s the whole point; spending your life revealing and agonising about the trivial nuances of everyday language in the pointless pursuit of moral salvation from self-loathing.

  • Kevin T

    Beautifully put. Personally I love Owen Jones and Laurie Penny because I grew up in the 80s and listening to their drivel takes me back to my youth in the same way that hearing Climie Fisher or Fine Young Cannibals does. Check your privilege is the sort of thing someone in dungarees would have said on the way to a “Stop Maggie Using Cruise Missiles On The South African Miners” march. More of this please.

    • Cale B.T.

      Ha! An old comment, but I got a good chuckle out of it.

  • therealguyfaux

    Of course, “check your privilege” may take on a much different meaning when one defines “privilege” as opposed to “rights.” In other words, your speaking your mind– whether you are informed or uninformed, reasonable or silly, easily refuted or not easily brushed off– may in future be considered, rather than being a right to do so, instead, a “privilege,” revocable pro tanto to your possession of privilege in the other sense of the word. I take that fatuous phrase to mean “Watch it, sucka!” as applied to those who, for whatever reason, stray into the territory of possibly expressing an unfavourable view to the one espoused by the spouter of said phrase– “Who are you to talk?” being now not an admonition against hypocrisy, but rather, an imputation of ignorance to those who would dare speak to a “problem” they do not themselves have. When applied to those who are all-around goo-goo’s who stir things up on behalf of every conceivable grievance ever known to humankind, I must confess that I somewhat relish the thought that they are being told to shut up, mind you, but as applied to those who would conduct honest good-faith inquiry, it is in effect a non-negotiable demand– “We’ll discuss it in, and on, my terms, or not at all– my way or highway.” All this serves to do is show the essential incoherence of the Leftie set of what pass for “principles”; it’s just Animal Farm, where, once they’ve run the Farmer off, the animals can then squabble all night as to who’s got the right to do what and with what and to whom.

  • Savannah

    The bizarre, non-sensical, and completely made up exchange at the beginning is enough to not read the article at all.

    If you can’t make your point without completely misrepresenting what “check your privilege” means in the first place, then you can’t make your point at all and your opinion likely isn’t worthy of further consideration.

    • Oliver

      The racist, sexist “check your privilege” meme deserves nothing more than mockery. Especially considering on the whole, the ‘social justice warriors’ who use it with abandon tend to be a bunch of privileged, middle class, university graduates who apply it based on the sex and skin colour of those who disagree with them regardless of who the dissenters actually are. Their economic status, sexualities etc are of no consequence. All that matters to the racist and sexist ‘social justice’ crowd is they get to tell white men to button it..

      Be gone

      • Savannah

        It’s sad that you view people other than white males being provided the opportunity to speak for themselves as ‘racism’ and ‘sexism.’

        Try to silence me all you like, I’m not going anywhere.

        • Oliver


          When did I say only white men should have a voice?

          I pointed out that ‘check your privilege” meme was being used by privileged people to shut up others based on the colour of their skin and sex, which is a perfect example of real world racism & sexism.

          Now off you pop back to your racist sexist “social justice” cul de sac.

          • Louise McCudden

            You didn’t intentionally say only white men should have a voice but it’s kind of ironic that the voices of all the black and Asian women – where discussion of intersectionality came from originally – are being completely erased in this discussion because it’s either much more fun to laugh at white middle class people saying lefty things (ha ha social justice so funny!), or because you genuinely didn’t even know what this language is about, you’ve only heard what privileged people TELL YOU the language is about and where it comes from….

            … which is exactly the point.

          • Oliver

            So it originated from black and Asian women therefore I should concede that it must be correct. To even imply that that might be the case is racist and sexist. You could be an Oxbridge feminist or a person of colour from a working class area. “check your privilege” would still be wrong. Skin colour doesn’t make one right. Unless your a racist that is

          • Louise McCudden

            No. I am saying that to imply it’s nonsense because it’s privileged/oxbridged/white middle class media luvvies (etc) who use it – as people repeatedly keep on doing – it simply a factual inaccuracy. You need a better reason than that.

          • Oliver

            Whilst it is simplistic nonsense, I never said it was because a bunch of Oxbridge feminists used it. It is simplistic, illogical and racist/sexist because it makes assumptions based on biological sex and skin colour which is the definition of bigotry.

            It’s identity politics on steroids and as such disgusting, divisive and wrong.

            I only pointed out the fact that really privileged professional feminists use it most to highlight it’s absurdity.

          • Tim Reed

            “No. I am saying that to imply it’s nonsense because it’s
            privileged/oxbridged/white middle class media luvvies (etc) who use it – as people repeatedly keep on doing – it simply a factual inaccuracy. You need a better reason than that.”

            …and in so arguing you’ve just dismissed the very principle of ‘checking your privilege’. Some ‘privileged’ speech is OK, according to you.

            Or are you suggesting that only people ‘not like you’ need to check their privilege? You seem rather conveniently selective.

          • Oliver

            What they mean is privileged people’s voices are just as important as long as they are agreeing with (choose your “oppressed” group)

            In other words only people who disagree with the “social justice” warrior’s world view should be dismissed with “check your privilege”, especially if they are white and or male.

            If a woman says a man finding her sexually attractive -without expressing adoration for her personality and admiration for her professional achievements first- is an act of “objectification” therefore wrong and the Queen of England agrees with her, that’s just fine and dandy.

            If a homeless, white, male cancer victim disagrees with her he needs to shut up & check his white male privilege.

          • Tim Reed

            “You didn’t intentionally say only white men should have a voice…”

            …but I’m going to imply that you did, because it justifies what I’m about to type.

            Who has ‘erased’ these comments by the minorities you mention? Such dishonest language. Do you mean we’re not talking about those groups? Perhaps we think it’s not our place to do so, lest we be told to ‘check our privilege’ and not talk on other’s behalf.

            Perhaps it’s you who ought to be checking yours?

        • Louise McCudden

          Haha it’s brilliant isn’t it? White middle class Oxbridge types who use the word privilege magically invalidates the word privilege (even if others use it too) but white middle class Oxbridge types dismissing the whole idea of privilege awareness is a really good argument, because reasons.

          • Vindice

            you are very boring.

        • Tim Reed

          “Try to silence me all you like”

          Who’s trying to silence you? Who mentioned white males? You headed straight for the straw coloured bloke.

          The objection is not to people speaking their minds, it’s to people employing a disingenuous contrivance in an attempt to impart a degree of authenticity and gravitas to their own arguments and diminish those of their opponents, regardless of the respective merits of each.

          Arguments and viewpoints should stand on their own and have their validity examined independent of the speaker. They shouldn’t attain an extra level of worthiness based on the holders inflated sense of self-worth. That is a form of privilege, unearned.

          Pretentious self-flattery, preciousness, sanctimony, self-righteousness…all wrapped up in one little phrase, “Check your privilege”.

      • Louise McCudden

        “Especially considering on the whole, the ‘social justice warriors’ who use it with abandon tend to be a bunch of privileged, middle class, university graduates.”

        That’s not true though is it?

        • Leö Stitch

          In my experience it most definitely is.

          But then I think making those sort of crass, negative generalisations about whole swathes of people is a bit shit.

          Hence why I find all this “check your privilege” thing profoundly absurd.

    • Hugo Rifkind

      Did I misrepresent it? In what way? How would you have explained it? Genuinely.

      • Savannah

        By and large, it just means that people who are most affected by a given issue should be given the greatest voice on that issue.

        • Wizbit

          So, for example, people who pay the most tax should have the “greatest voice” on taxation?

          • John Galt

            Answer came there none!

        • Oliver

          What if the feminist is wrong and the white male critiquing the feminist theory is right?

          What if the person of colour comes from a wealthy educated background and the white male they are arguing with is poor and gay or has no legs and a glass eye?

          What if, what if?

          The simplistic arithmetic of privilege checking sacrifices logic and evidence on the alter of identity politics.

          It’s oppression Top Trumps. It’s simplistic, idiotic, racist, sexist and wrong.

          Plus it is used selectively to silence dissent.

        • Hugo Rifkind

          Sorry, but no it doesn’t. That is exactly what intersectionality does not say. It says that any given issue cannot be considered in isolation.

          By your logic, feminism SHOULD be the preserve of wealthy white women, because a wealthy white woman is probably more affected by gender issues, being relatively unaffected by, say, poverty or race issues. And I doubt very much that this is what you mean.

          • Louise McCudden

            Why is a wealthy white woman more affected by gender issues because they’re not affected by another issues? A working class woman or an Asian woman with a disability or whatever ALSO has the same issues of gender AS WELL as race, class, disability… and also some gender issues specific to race, class, disability. So for example when Banaz Mahmood was ignored by the police, it was said by some in the police that they believed she was ignored because it was seen as “brown people killing brown people.” They do not believe she’d have been ignored if she’d been white. She was oppressed by her gender and by her race. White feminists ignoring race or Asian men ignoring gender and misogyny would help her at all on their own. These issues intersect.

          • Hugo Rifkind

            Well, it’s a theory. But I don’t agree with it. A white, able-bodied woman is more affected by simple gender issues in a country like Britain because the other issues don’t get there first. To put it in language you might prefer, it is her privilege to be more affected by gender issues, because she has nothing else to worry about.

          • Louise McCudden

            I am genuinely discussing this in good faith btw and appreciate you replying… but why wouldn’t a less well-off, non-white woman be also affected by the same gender issues that a wealthier woman faces, just because she has other issues as well? There isn’t a finite number of issues she can be affected by! Sexism isn’t something you are only affected by if there’s nothing else on your plate, is it? The other issues may “get there first” but it doesn’t remove the same gender issues. Black women aren’t not subject to misogyny just because they are also subject to racism… poorer black women aren’t not subject to racism just because poverty “gets there first”… poorer gay men aren’t not subject to homophobia just because poverty “gets there first…”

          • Hugo Rifkind

            Briefly (I’m off home), smashing the glass ceiling hugely benefits a white woman, but doesn’t make much difference if your firm still won’t employ black people. Gender issues directly affect her life more.

            (FYI – this is a BAD thing. I’d like to live in a world where ALL women were affected by only the same issues. But we don’t.)

          • Louise McCudden

            That’s intersectionality! 🙂 If the black woman is being discriminated against as a black person AND as a woman then she’s facing two intersecting oppressions; feminism that doesn’t acknowledge racism is, as you say, not going to make much difference. Similarly, anti-racism policies without tackling sexism also won’t help much. What you’ve described in exactly what intersectionality is all about…

            …ps the black woman probably has OTHER gender issues to deal with, not “smashing the glass ceiling” but violence and harassment in the street, the White Beauty Myth being perpetuated, access to abortion… all these things don’t go away just because she’s a black woman? “Smashing the glass ceiling” is only one example of feminism that impacts one type of woman – hence intersectional feminism.

          • Hugo Rifkind

            But it’s going to make a huge difference! Just not for her. So it’s reasonable to assume that the people for whom it will make a huge difference have a greater stake in it and understanding of it. No?

          • Gertcha

            Why don’t you shut your gob and let her speak for herself.

            Check *your* privilege – she may think you’re a twat.

        • John Galt

          I am afraid that simply isnt how democracy works. Democracy is one person, one vote, not weighted voting by quantity of grievance.

        • StephanieJCW

          Interesting. So taxpayers should have a greater voice over how tax money is spent – as opposed to say net recipients of tax payer money?

          It’s a way of shutting people up. That much is obvious.

    • tompiper

      The spelling is ‘nonsensical’ and your own point makes no sense. The grammar is rubbish too. What you are actually want to say is that you hate Rifkind’s views but you don’t know how to answer them.

      The guy skewers you and your kind every time. Ain’t that hard?

  • James Stanley

    I know you are writing for a Spectator audience but you do intersectionality and CYP a disservice.

    You say people should be empathetic, and they should. But what CYP asks people to do is really examine their views and experiences, especially the ones they maybe unconscious of. As an example, as a gay man I have to think everytime I hold my partner’s hand or kiss him in public. This isn’t an issue for heterosexual people, you don’t have to do that quick mental check when you kiss your partner goodbye on a train station. So when a straight person opines that LGBT activists are whining or have already acheived full equality you can ask them to check their priviledge.

    The problem is the medium, which is most often Twitter and social media. Twitter doesn’t allow nuanced dialogue and tone, so a cry of check your priviledge is often used and read as a slap down when it should be the start of a dialogue.

    • Louise McCudden

      Exactly. Also, I feel like some of the hostility to it (not all, but some) is because people simply get defensive and irritable at being asked to “check their privilege”. That happens however you phrase it. Some people really don’t like being told to consider those things, however politely it’s done and whatever words are used. I am afraid I can’t help but be quite cynical about the strength of the resistance to the whole thing, especially when it’s SO often based on falsehoods – i.e. “CYP” and “intersectionality” aren’t Oxbridge things or middle class things or uni things, they come from the opposite if anything. The people I see most strongly objecting to them, on the other hand… so, yeah. Hmm. When people seem to be making up/misrepresenting things to convince me of an argument, I find it hard to take their arguments in good faith tbh.

      • Tim Reed

        Some people really don’t like being told to consider those things

        No – some people don’t like being told to ‘̶c̶h̶e̶c̶k̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶r̶ ̶p̶r̶i̶v̶i̶l̶e̶g̶e̶ know your place’ by the chronically sanctimonious. The above poster (James) is entirely correct, tone is everything. He clearly understands that. You need to work on it.

    • StephanieJCW

      It’s the way it is expressed though. “Check your privilege IS used as a form of, essentially saying, “What do you know, you aren’t in the same situation shut up.”

      And the person does not have to be of a similar background / experience to comment. Using your gay example, it’s true, I may not have to think twice about kissing my partner in public, but my opinion, that, the only way to change things is for gay people to be more forthright about showing their love isn’t rendered invalid because I don’t happen to be gay.

      In addition you can never speak on behalf of a group as your experiences will only ever be the experience of an individual. Being raised by a single mother doesn’t give greater right to speak on the subject of single parenthood and the impact on children, as my experience is just that; MY experience.

      That’s why I hate the term.

  • tompiper

    Taken by a whimsical mood, I’ adapted bob Dylan’s satire
    on the far right in sixties America to fit present day leftism

    Well, I was feelin’ sad and feelin’ blue
    I just didn’t know what to do

    Fascists swarming everywhere
    Onthe ground and in the air

    Threatening each day and night
    Our peaceful liberation fight.

    SoI hurried down to join the queue
    To join up with the AFU

    I started marching with a sign
    The message was a great design

    I did not have any doubt
    Fascist coalition out!

    I’m a real progressive now!
    Look out you Nazis!

    Now we all agree with Hamza’s views
    That the trouble only comes from Jews

    It don’t matter that he’s a racist
    At least he’s not an English fascist

    Well, I began to read my coursebooks today
    They should be be burned right away

    It’s clear that Shakespeare was a fascist
    I burned his poems and plays to ashes

    Jane Austen was right wing for sure
    We should ban all that hateful literature.

    Now Milliband , he’s a fascist too
    Clegg and Camoron – all that crew

    To my knowledge there’s just one man
    Who was a true progressive force:
    That was Osama bin Laden, of course,
    He knew just what should be done
    With the fascist western scum.

    Well, I finally started thinking straight
    And saw how much there was to hate.
    In the mirror I saw a sight
    For every left there was a right
    I had two arms, two hands, two ears
    Suddenly, I was filled with fears.

    Two eyes!

    Now there is no doubt.
    One must be taken out.

    So now I’m sitting back inside…

    Fighting with my other side

    Hope I don’t win . . .

    Oh my God! What must I do?
    I’ll have to cut myself in two.

    • tompiper

      That was freely adapted from ‘Talkin’ John Birch Society Blues’.

  • Will Rees

    There are people in sub-Saharan Africa who have never even heard of a Post It note!


    I’ve not been there so I shouldn’t really comment, what with it being outside the realms of my experience.

  • Tim Reed

    Let’s cut the crap. This whole concept is merely a device for the self-righteous to exclude certain types of people they don’t like from arguments that they feel belong to them. It’s offensive nonsense. And yet the purveyors of this junk insist that they are the ones being silenced whenever someone dares to point to the intellectual cowardice inherent in excluding or diminishing a person’s views based solely upon a spurious claim to demographic disqualification. It’s bogus.

    • Jeeti Johal-Bhuller

      Thankyou. Well said.

  • BoiledCabbage

    Thou shall not bullshit.

  • John Galt

    There is nothing new in this “Check your privilege” meme.

    It is simply the latest manifestation of an inherent feature of left wing totalitarianism by which it seeks to suppress all debate or contrary opinions. The Soviet Union had a long record of doing this by declaring anything it didnt like as being ‘bourgeois’.

    The idea is to find a means of branding someone so beyond the pale by reference to who they are rather than what they say that a priori you dont have to engage with their arguments. And because you dont have to engage with them you can never lose the arument.

    To be fair children do be same thing when they stick their fingers in their ears and scream to blot out the things they dont like hearing from their parents.

    It is pretty pathetic. But what it does show is that the left is so lacking in confidence in its positions that the only way it feels it can proceed is by pretending that tgere are no other rational positions.

    I am afraid ‘check your privilege’ philosophies lead ineluctably to gulags, the secret police and the liquidation of the kulaks

    • Lauren Borrero

      Golly well said!

  • formonitoring

    tragedy of the British Left….that would be the Left on course to turn the Tories into a a one-term government, a mere five years after the Left’s party almost wrecked the joint. Would that be the Left you’re talking about? I’d suggest, with the Right in as much trouble as it is, you’d do well to look at the lack of self-laceration – ie self-criticism and reflection – on your side. You can get away with being an Eton mess of Johnsons, Rifkinds, Gideons etc for a while. Eventually people start to notice that you’re the B team, playing like the C team. Stay self-satisfied, my friends, and you won’t know what hit you.

  • E Hart

    Hugo, this an affliction without political colours. Reason, right and persuasion will always be chasing after humanity. Were they ever to catch up, it would be because we’ve outgrown our hubristic and sadistic desire to subvert truth and reason to the service of some convenient fallacy.

  • Icebow

    I have checked my privilege, and have found that, though somewhat privileged, I am not quite privileged enough. I shall therefore endeavour to become more privileged, so that I may use my enhanced privilege to benefit the less privileged. In pursuance of this, I shall make use of the strange term ‘intersectionality’, since it occurs to me that for every negative intersection of the kind alluded to, there must be a corresponding positive intersection, which when identified may be strengthened. In any event, the virtue of privilege appears in the extent to which it offends people of the Left.

  • bungopony

    You could make a fortune selling”Check Your Privilege”T-shirts in places like Toronto’s Kensington Market-a cesspool of pious lefties.Wear dirty clothes,a scruffy beard and they’d congratulate themselves-they’re helping the homeless,too!

  • Gertcha

    This, the “check your privilege” meme, is one I despise. It is the other side of the coin of appeal to authority, Ipse Dixit, and should rank along with it and Ad Hominems as the refuge of the charlatan.

  • Fergus

    You ask ‘what kind of solipsistic nutjob isn’t doing this anyway’ as if no person in possession of various privileges ever confidently expressed views about things affecting people without those privileges, when a better understanding of their experiences would show their ideas to be mistaken.

    I think you’ll find that it’s actually pretty common (for example) for men not to have considered every aspect of the relevant experiences of women before holding forth on questions of gender relations – if you can find any women, try asking them if they’re familiar with the sensation of having their experiences dismissed by men who just assume they know better. If you can find a black person, try asking them if they’ve ever had a conversation with a white person that made it uncomfortably clear that they had convictions about race relations founded in obvious ignorance of the experiences of people who aren’t white.

  • anon23333

    Nobody has said ‘check your privilege’ seriously for about a year, now (on the internet, at least). It’s been used as a joke at least since September 2012, perhaps even before that. Whoever wrote this article is seriously behind.

    • Franclyn

      Um…nope. Still happening. Just not to you.

  • Jjambone

    I’ve never heard so many people talking so much crap in my entire life as there is on this thread. People constantly banging on about how they are oppressed and how it’s someone’s fault. Some girl below actually said a black woman not only has to worry about being black and a woman, but also PROBABLY about the fact she is going to suffer violence and harassment in the street. It’s hysterical logic. Yes, violence in the street happens. Would I expect a black woman probably is worrying about that specifically and in particular. No, it’s just some lunatic spouting more shit on the internet. Who can I blame for my problem? How can I link my problem to something about my identity and then what words can I use to frame my unlikely and/or minor problem so that it sounds more serious than it is? Then, can I get some kind of special treatment for being a victim please?

  • Andrew Seggie

    It has nothing to do with being left/right or socialist/capitalist what it is is stupid people saying stupid things. In my experience they’ve been right wing, but I’m generalising and there’s no need

  • Rapper MC Jesus

    Holy crap my white privilege has helped me so much. All my racist thoughts, actions, and beliefs have propelled me to the top 1% of wealth, strength, and vitality.

    God it’s good to be white, it just solves all your problems instantly…

    sarcasm you feminist d1ke nazi fools

  • Mike Pettit

    What is this ‘White Privilege’ they’re talking about. I’m a white male that wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth, just like 98 percent of the white males in this country. I chose to wake up at 4 o’clock in the morning seven days a week from 5th grade through my freshman year in high school and deliver newspapers, then work through high school as a cook at Mr Steak restaurant until I graduated. Is that ‘White Privilege’ to want to earn money for the things that I wanted. I chose to be in basic training one week after graduating high school and serve for the next 13 years. Again, ‘White Privilege’? I don’t think so. The last I heard, ANYONE, no matter what your color, is able to apply for jobs or join the military, or go to universities to better yourself. Throughout my life I have had best friends of ALL skin colors and as far as I know, they’re all doing with their lives what they set out to make of it.Should I feel guilty or ashamed that I have accomplished so much in my life because I’m white? I don’t think so. It all comes down to having the confidence and pride in yourself to know that no matter what life throws at you, you are determined to make something good out of it…… no matter WHAT your color.

  • Pilsner Urquell

    “Until then – wwwweeeeeee.” Louis CK.

  • dirtydyno

    What does a “serious discussion” of race look like in America?

    “Whites sit around in a room confessing their collective oppressor sins while “people of color” discharged rage, “yelling at them” and “preaching.” – Selwyn Duke

    Every point a Caucasian makes, other than sycophantic submissiveness will be shouted down as Racism. This is not going to have positive results.