Do we have a primitive sense of justice?

Olympics: Child singer revealed as fake

Tania Branigan in Beijing, Tuesday August 12 2008 12:34 BST, © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008


This is the tale of how Lin Miaoke replaced Yang Peiyi in singing "Ode to the Motherland" at the opening of the Olympics because Yang's face was not pretty enough. It now emerges that Lin mimed the song to the voice of Yang. A Politburo official did not like Yang's face.

The Guardian article also refers to Dr Hamermesh's studies on the "beauty premium." In Britain beautiful women enjoy a 1% premium, but in Shanghai this would be 10%.


We are all familiar with the genetic and evolutionary origins of beauty and the function beauty plays in biological communication. But does this form of discrimination betrays a lack of sensitivity and fairness in today's society? What has happened to our supposed belief in equal opportunities, political correctness, racial equality and tolerance? How can we still discriminate on such arbitrary factors as one's looks? After all, being born with a uneven set of teeth is no less a biological event than being born black or a woman.

Bottom Line

Biological communication can sometimes be in conflict with our rational idea of justice and fairness. Can it be that we still have a primitive sense of justice?

Tags: justice, beauty, beauty premium, Olympics, communication, justice

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