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The Diary.

Byline: By Denis Kilcommons

`Even Christian bias against left-handers'

BECAUSE the young Jimi Hendrix couldn't afford to buy an expensive left-handed guitar, he learned to play a right-handed guitar - upside down.

Rock icon Hendrix is one of a galaxy of famous left-handed people who adapted to a world that favours the right-handed and eclipsed them with his talent.

Take James A Garfield, the first left-handed president of the United States, for instance. Not only left-handed but also ambidextrous (they can't touch you for it). His party trick was to write Latin with one hand and Greek with the other.

Talent is one thing, but this is called showing off.

Leonardo da Vinci was another. He wrote all of his personal notes from right to left so that anyone wanting a peek at what he really thought of Mona Lisa had to hold it up to a mirror.

"Mona had toothache today. I tried juggling soot but she still wouldn't smile."

Between 11 and 13% of the world's population is left-handed and they have been getting a raw deal throughout history.

In previous generations, children whose natural inclination was to be a lefty were forced to use their right hand when it came to writing or learning basic skills. Quite often, they were viewed as slow and clumsy.

These days, there are pens, scissors and all kinds of left-handed implements for youngsters. This is because lefties have been fighting back and demanding equal rights and left-handed corkscrews.

Leading the campaign has been the British based Left Handers Club <www.anythingleft-handed.co.uk/club> that has members around the world, its own shop and has declared today Left-Handed Day.

It is also, you may have noticed, Friday the 13th but this special breed of southpaws has a legendary sense of humour. They've needed it because they've faced prejudice throughout history.

In ancient Japan a man could divorce his wife if he discovered she was left-handed and even Christianity was biased against them: the Bible always refers favourably to the right hand while dishing out loads of unfavourable references to the left.

Those on the right shall inherit the Kingdom of God while those on the left will be cast into everlasting fire, it says. Which is pretty extreme just for being left-handed.

One theory suggests the use of the right hand became dominant in days of old when men were bold and bashed each other with swords. The left arm was used to carry a shield to protect the heart, so the right hand was used to hold a weapon. Thus it became the norm.

The Left-Handers Club continues to campaign and has already achieved much. It is responsible for the modification of hand-held power tools, the introduction of left-handed cheque books and the production of the only training video for teachers and parents of left-handed children, to show the best way to assist them in attaining the vital basic skills without difficulty or discomfort.

Today will, they hope, raise awareness of left-handedness and the challenges caused by living in a right-handed world and maybe prompt designers and manufacturers to consider the sizeable percentage of the market place they occupy.

We should all take note, they say.

"Left-handers are generally more intelligent, better looking, imaginative and multi-talented than right handers," said a spokesman.

"Mind you, this is based on discussions among members of the Left-Handers Club," he said.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Aug 13, 2004
Words:566
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