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Turtleʼs Thoughts: A Dissertation on Handedness

by William Jackson on 1999-09-02

Although the world may not realize this, society is built on the basis of right-hand dominance. Everything from the keyboard you type on to the books you read are structured around the use of the right hand. For instance, important keys such as Enter, Backspace, and the number pad are strategically place on the right side of the keyboard for the convenience of the majority. But what of the roughly thirteen percent left-handers found in society? I tell you, they are left to their own devices (pun not intended).

According to history, the left hand has traditionally been associated with evil thoughts and tendencies. Parents punished their children if they attempted to learn to write with their left hand. In fact, the French term for left, “gauche”, also takes the meaning “socially inept”. Therefore, the use of the right hand became more readily accepted. Soldiers salute with their right hand. Boy Scouts raise their right hand to recite the Scout Oath. The more frequently used cold water handle is found on the right side of the sink. The refrigerator door handle is on the right side.

Other conventions may be made to mislead the ill-advised, but beware! The steering column is on the left side of the vehicle so the drivers dominant right hand is free to adjust the air conditioning, radio, change gears, etc. Your heart is on the left of your body so you can place your right hand on your chest when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

The prominence of the right hand is further immortalized in the media. Have you seen the latest World War II movie? “Heil, Hitler!” What hand did they use? Find for me one computer program that places the vertical scroll bar on the left side of the window. What do you commonly say when someone is correct? Youʼre right! When you are picking teams for the kick ball game, no one ever wants whoʼs left.

Signed, Turtle. Once before and once again.

This article was written with one purpose in mind: to put a smile on a face of each of its many readers. If I have not done so, please inform me, and I will work my hardest to remedy the situation.

2 September 1999, William Andrew Jackson