Washington, D.C. – in an increasingly rare act of bilateral cooperation, legislation was recently introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives to remove long-standing institutional bias against left-handed people.
With broad support, House Resolution 23B, titled “Leave No One Left Behind”, was reportedly instigated by prominent left-handed Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, with behind-the-scenes lobbying from current U.S. Senator Rand Paul and former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe, both also left-handed.
While unable to comment due to conflict of interest issues, RBG discussed the subject at length in an appearance on ‘The Daily Show’ with Jon Stewart in 2012:
“People identifying as other-handed are 11% of the population, and while some extremely accomplished people are or were left-handed — for example Barack Obama, Leonardo da Vinci, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Jimi Hendrix, and Keanu Reeves — most walk amongst us largely unseen, unacknowledged and disempowered, and face bias every single day.
Many civilizations’ conventions have ancient roots – – personal hygiene with the left hand, eat with the right, those sorts of things. This was a necessary approach when washing one’s hands was not as easy as it is now.
However, a remarkable amount of bias remains, from the design of commonplace household objects, to the more insidious prejudice in our very language – – ‘left-handed compliment’, ‘left behind’, ‘on the right side of history’, for example – – and extends even to institutional infrastructure such as driving on the right side of the road and handshakes only with the right.
Those identifying as left-handed, as well as ambidextrous (who are usually referred to as ‘ambi’), and even so-called cross-dominants, have long had to deal with challenges that most people don’t even think about. While we are thankfully past the age when left-handers were forced to unnaturally mold to the societal ‘norm’ of being right-handed, the world is presumably more enlightened, and I think before I leave the Court there will be legislation to right this wrong – – excuse me (laughter) – – I mean correct the situation”.
The sweeping House Resolution comprises a broad range of recommendations, including:
- Requirement that every manufacturer producing right-handed oriented products also produce versions designed for left-handed consumers, as well as ‘ambi’ versions. This would include things like scissors, video game controllers, computer keyboards, tools, musical instruments, weapons and coffee mugs. Included also is a mandate that makers of ink pens use only smudge-proof ink.
- English words that have evolved from the word ‘left’ in other languages to more negative connotations will not be permitted in U.S. government activity, and following a 5-year transition period, will be illegal in all U.S. educational systems – including textbooks.
This includes words like sinister, gauche, as well as phrases such as ‘left-handed compliment’, and other words such as ‘southpaw’ that could be felt to be demeaning.
- Included is a provision that in all domestic U.S. Government meetings, whether internal or with suppliers, at least 15% of handshakes would be left-handed.
- All professional sports teams would be required to include at least 15% of members identifying as ‘left-handed’ or ‘ambi’. Corporations would have the same requirement for composition of Boards of Directors.
- A large-scale initiative would require retrofitting every mile of the U.S. Interstate Highway System and all state highways to accommodate those wishing to drive on either the right or left side of the road, with completion targeted by 2030. This would be accompanied by a requirement that all automobile manufacturers doing business in the United States must make available right-hand drive vehicles. The rapidly evolving driverless car technology will be counted on to facilitate this transition.
The cost of these changes is estimated to total roughly $20 trillion over the next 10 years. And while this is broadly acknowledged to be a significant strain on the already burdened U.S. economy, there has been unanimous support from U.S. lawmakers, on both the Right and Left, particularly those facing re-election.
As a sign of gathering momentum, popular culture has taken up the cause. As one unnamed self-identified ambi celebrity commented: “God didn’t just make ‘on/off’ switches – she made a good number of dimmers as well. Regardless of where one may identify along the spectrum of handedness, a civilized society should be ready to accommodate everyone, whatever the cost”.