The poison of privilege


It’s hard to read or watch the news these days without seeing someone involved in a public confrontation or altercation who gets their back up when called on it and responds with, ‘do you know who I am?’, the clarion call of those who assume that their position, wealth, or demographic somehow entitles them to special privileges denied to us common mortals.

Take the case of the well-known—but not very highly regarded—legislator who disturbed other theater goers at a performance by loudly singing along with the actors, vaping and sending her noxious fumes around for everyone to breathe in, and played footsie with her escort in a crowded venue that included people of all ages.

When confronted by venue personnel and asked to cease and desist, she didn’t and was finally escorted to the exit. On the way, she was heard to ask, ‘do you know who I am?’

Well, of course, as someone who is constantly in the media for some outrageous statement of other, she was recognized, but the employees of that theater rightly treated her as they would any other disruptive patron, they showed her the door.

There’s another well-known case. A politician who commonly calls people insulting names, attacks the family members and employees of people he dislikes, and basically says whatever comes to his mind, and stands on his constitutional right to self-expression.

When someone says something about him, he cries and whines and threatens retribution, and once, when asked a question that he didn’t like, said, ‘how dare you ask me that. Do you know who I am?’ in the most offended tone.

It’s become epidemic this standing on privilege to justify behavior that violates social norms, not just high-level public figures, but many people who seem to think that something about them makes them special.

Well, I’m not particularly important, and I was taught to conduct myself properly and politely in public. I also have an intense aversion to people who use their presumed privilege to push other people around.

I’m not a violent person by nature, but when I hear the phrase ‘do you know who I am?’, I have an intense desire to smash the utterer in the face and say, “yes, I know exactly who you are, I also know what you are, and frankly, my dear, I don’t give a fig.’ | NWI