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I remember part of a story, maybe a short story. In it, people are handicapped in different ways depending on what they're good at. People that are really strong have weights attached to them. People that are really smart have devices that interrupt their train of thought.

All of this was done to make everyone on the same level, to make life fair and equal for everyone.

I think I read this back in high school, so around 2004. I don't think it was a new short story at that point though. It was in English and I read it in the US.

A part of the story that I specifically remember was a brother and sister talking. Her brother had a large weight attached to him, and she talked about removing some of the weight, but there were severe punishments for those that mess with their "handicap".

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"Harrison Bergeron", by Kurt Vonnegut

Quoth Wikipedia:

In the year 2081, the 211th, 212th, and 213th amendments to the Constitution dictate that all Americans are fully equal and not allowed to be smarter, better-looking, or more physically able than anyone else. The Handicapper General's agents enforce the equality laws, forcing citizens to wear "handicaps": masks for those who are too beautiful, loud radios that disrupt thoughts inside the ears of intelligent people, and heavy weights for the strong or athletic.

One April, 14-year-old Harrison Bergeron, an intelligent and athletic teenager, is taken away from his parents, George and Hazel Bergeron, by the government. They are barely aware of the tragedy, as Hazel has "average" intelligence (a euphemism for stupidity), and George has a handicap radio installed by the government to regulate his above-average intelligence.

They also mention the scene with the siblings (although it's actually husband and wife) you mention:

Noticing his exhaustion, Hazel urges George to lie down and rest his "handicap bag", 47 pounds (21 kg) of weights locked around George's neck. She suggests taking a few of the weights out of the bag, but George resists, aware of the illegality of such an action.

It was first published in 1961, so certainly old enough to match. It's in English.


I found this by doing a Google search for handicap for equality short story, and finding the Wikipedia page.

  • It's also worth noting that The Sirens of Titan features a similar "handicapping" system. Also that there's a Harrison Bergeron film which takes some liberties with the concept, but attempts to put more substance on the dystopian society of the short story. – Graham Dec 14 '18 at 11:32

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