PREJUDICE: the attempted importation of unscruted and malignant bias

In the domain of bias, wherein all imbalance struts its stuff, the diverse forms of prejudice exhibit themselves. They range from the mildly reprehensible judgement formed from little or no consideration for the evidence, to the vigorous promotion of an emotional attitude as if it ought to be accepted in general. The milder form is often no more than a hastily drawn conclusion. It can usually be remedied by a gentle dose of the relevant facts. The more virulent manifestation is an active attempt to import cancerous ideas and sell them as firm and sound. These are invariably difficult to root out once established.

At the borders of common sense where the pragmatic evidence of the senses should guide inspection and evaluation, an endless queue of salvaged, rotten, toxic and substance enhanced opinions lurk amidst the baggage being presented for importation. There would appear to be an endless supply of couriers. Some are presented openly and cynically, on the chance that they will be deemed benign, and then used to exploit the unwary. Some are secreted in devious false bottoms in the mind, beneath the unwashed underwear of the subconscious, to later be distributed on the streets to the vulnerable. Some are even swallowed within indigestible pellicles to be passed and salvaged from the wastes when inspection has been subverted.

Vigilance is the only pragmatic defence. It is usually assumed to be the obvious first line, but the officers are few and underpaid and their means of detection can never be infallible. Every individual is a creature of culture and matures in a context of education, indoctrination and being accustomed to accepted practices. Objectivity and freedom from bias is probably an impossible aspiration and any individual supposing themselves to be so balanced is almost certainly deluded. If there was the notion of an impartial intergenerational intercultural judge, it would be a judicial fantasy. In being aware of the constraints of nurture it is not difficult to recognize that no-one is exempt from the cautious scrute of baggage. One can but make a careful and honest declaration. If some seemingly innocuous but undesirable residues are uncovered then cheerfully surrender them if necessary.

Unfortunately, many smugglers of prejudice make their living by peddling a product which seems disarmingly plausible to the unwary. They pose the same problem to a society as do the pushers of drugs.