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What is a double standard?

Stickler wonders if there is any objection to standards that apply in a group but not to outsiders? Or is it the other way around? Is there any objection to standards that only apply to outsiders and not to the proper group?

Quod licet Jovi non licet Bovi. What to the one is allowed, is not allowed to the other. Stickler knows this is the verbal archetype of the double standard. Almost everyone in the Western world knows and understands the formula. It turned up in an obscure German play in the nineteenth century. That it is still understood in 2020 indicates that double standards continue to occur. Is there anything against that?

Most communities have their own standard. They use it to realize an identity. A white, a yellow, a black, a jew, a muslim, a christian, a Hindu, a buddhist, a Manchester United fan, a Manchester City fan, a Tory, a Whig, a Republican, a Democrat, a Marxist, a Keynesian, a neo-liberal community, etc., etc. Is there any objection to the group’s own standards that play a role here?

A player in the American press (CNN) thinks so, citing how Trump (LAW & ORDER!) has turned his view of the BLM community’s freedom of demonstration toward China’s attitude towards the Hong Kong protesters:

“In a barrage of tweets over the weekend, Trump called protesters “thugs,” accused “organized groups” of being behind the violence, blamed the media for fomenting unrest, called for the military to be deployed, and retweeted claims that those behind the unrest were “domestic terrorists.” It was a response that might not have appeared out of place on the pages of China’s own government-controlled newspapers, and did not go unnoticed by state media pundits and officials in Beijing, some of whom have publicly delighted in watching the unrest unfold in the US, sarcastically calling for solidarity with protesters and pointing out the alleged hypocrisy of their American counterparts.”

We have a textbook example of a double standard, Stickler thought. Is that bad or rather funny? He does not expect a general answer. He does recognize a behavioral biological basis in the human ability to apply double standards.

As primates, we are equipped with different talents. We can, (to use a platitude) such as chimpanzees, claim a domain and see strangers as prey, but we can also, like bonobos, see outsiders as potential companions with whom we can trade and form coalitions that contribute to our position in the biotopes and ecosystems we have to deal with. One issue that remains is that every homo sapiens unites the talents of the chimpanzee and the bonobo. And not just that. He also possesses the talents of the orangutan (particularly sensitive to hierarchy) and of the gorilla (with a tendency towards autonomy and the use of instruments.)

Each individual choice of behavior thus becomes the outcome of a story that has to bring together several standards in a coherent way. Asch, Sherif and Milgram have among others convincingly shown that such stories can lead to peculiar results.

Mr. Stickler thinks that some of those multi-standard narratives are extremely harmful, while the ability to base stories on them as such is at the root of what we have come to call morality and responsibility.

So the question cannot be answered unambiguously.