A man, John, wearing obviously expensive but garishly tasteless clothes is ambling along an inner city street near lunch-time. Suddenly, a bright figure appears before him; it’s a genie:–
Genie: Congratulations, man, you’ve been selected at random to bring joy to another human being, and to yourself. I grant you the power to give another deserving human being a great boon. When you next meet a person you may grant him or her a great gift and, whatever you deem worthy to give you will receive in double measure. In other words, should my meaning be insufficiently plain, if you give the next bloke you meet a million dollars you will receive two million; if you choose instead to provide him a furnished house you will receive two furnished houses; if you give the next cove you meet a Bugatti Veyron 16.4, you receive two! Right, we’ll put this sticker on your lapel; there, you have the power to grant one generous boon! Give wisely, o mortal. Farewell.
The genie disappears, and John continues walking. Soon he encounters two people who appear to have been quarrelling for some time.
Homeless Man: No, I’m not begging because of my laziness; my family was defrauded by a shonky union executive, and we lost all my savings. My young daughter died from eating a badly-prepared meal but, having lost all our savings, her mother and I couldn’t find a lawyer to sue the Rather Happy Crab restaurant chain and shortly afterwards, my wife, her mother, died in a mysterious accident. I am, as my sign says, looking for work, and I’ll do anything within reason. You know, the same could just as easily happen to you.
Rich Chap: Oh, I think not, Lazybones. In addition to my vast inherited wealth, I happen to control 51% of Rather Happy Crab Holdings. I’ll never be reduced to such smelly indigence as you seem to enjoy.
John: Excuse me guys, but I need to give the first person I meet a great boon, but I’ve met both of you simultaneously.
Homeless Man: Well, with respect, I’m undergoing severe hardship, here, so I’d certainly appreciate a helping hand.
Rich Chap: Hang on, there, my greedy friend. I too could always do with a little more. My wife got a new diamond pendant the other day so now my girlfriend wants one too.
John: This is tricky because, like Kaleidoscope Australia, the Human Rights Foundation, I believe in “zero discrimination”. I can’t prefer one over the other. That’d be wrong.
Rich Chap: You what?
John: Zero discrimination. I don’t discriminate, and I certainly don’t discriminate against LGBTIQ—um, I’ve forgotten the other letters—anyway, I try my best not to discrimate—ever.
Homeless Man: Wouldn’t trying your best thereby constitute discriminating between three or more choices of conduct?
Rich Chap: More to the point, you ought not to discriminate between one smelly blob of human filth lazing on the footpath and one fragrant go-getter who just stopped to supply him munificently with convivial conversation (but no change, Beggar-boy, because I have nothing smaller on me than a fifty dollar note).
John: You’re right, I shouldn’t discriminate at all.
Homeless Man: You can’t, for instance, be at all picky when offered a choice between a refreshing glass of 1982 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, a mug of cold vomit and a beaker of prussic acid? Do you not discriminate between eating tasty, nutritious food and rancid swill?
Rich Chap: More to the point, you couldn’t give me two good tickets to the Melbourne performance of “Wicked” tonight, could you? I’m flying to Melbourne later this arvo to test my new jet, but one of my idle secretaries forgot to book some seats, and the wife loves that show.
John: I honestly don’t know what to do, since I cannot discriminate.
Homeless Man: Perhaps, if you were to wish for something we could share. How big is this boon you mention? Would it extend to ordering a banquet for all of us?
John: Well, I don’t know really. I could give you a car or some money, I seem to recall, but I don’t want to discriminate between passing thoughts and accurate memories because I believe in zero discrimination.
Rich Chap: Don’t waste time thinking, just give each of us two tickets to tonight’s performance of “Wicked”. Plus, I’m gay and so is my wife. Don’t discriminate against us!
John: All right, though I don’t know how— Oh, look, I have four tickets in my hand. There you go, two tickets to “Wicked” for you, and two for you. Hey, wow! I’ve got another eight tickets for me! Weird.
Rich Chap: Well done. Thanks. See you at the show, friends. Gotta zip.
Homeless Man: Well, I can’t get to Melbourne tonight and I doubt I could find anyone around here wanting to buy these tickets. Could you, by any chance, exchange them for a dinner?
John: No, I already have more that enough rather useless tickets and, you know, that does sound a lot like discrimination—whereas I believe in zero discrimination. Enjoy your gift. Bye.
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