The context was a comment on alt.poly where someone who lives in an urban area said zie had an irrational fear of SUVs. My thinking went something like this: "Some people live in circumstances where they need an SUV. If a person lived in such circumstances, zie couldn't really afford to have an irrational fear of SUVs. So to an extent this person is able to have an irrational fear of SUVs because zie's privileged not to live in a situation where zie needs to have an SUV or needs to deal closely with other people who have them. Therefore, it's a luxury."
1. Hm, actually it's not strictly true that anyone needs SUVs. Some people live in circumstances where they need a truck or something with high ground clearance or something with four-wheel drive, but it doesn't have to be an SUV per se.
2. I'm conflating fear with the ability to avoid the feared thing. In some cases being able to avoid a feared thing could be considered a luxury, or could be considered the result of having a lot of options in one's life, and having lots of options could be considered luxurious in some senses. But that doesn't mean the fear itself is a luxury.
3. I'm assuming that if one has no choice but to deal with the feared thing, one will get over the fear, or perhaps have irrational aspects of the fear replaced with a more rational view of the feared thing. I think that's true sometimes, but certainly not all the time, and certainly it's not a good default assumption for addressing fear.
gconnor, you brought up some good points, which I might noodle on as "being able to cite an irrational fear as a way of manipulating other people might map to some kind of luxury."
elisem, you talk about people beating themselves up with the idea. It sounds like you mostly come across people who consider "luxury" to be something that's not OK. I don't use it with that connotation. Mostly I use it to mean access to more choices.
Papersky, yes, your comment about "putting it in perspective" was very close to what I was getting at (and much better said).
kyubi, I like your definition of luxury, and I agree that being lower on the Maslow scale doesn't offer freedom from irrational fears. Do you think being lower on the Maslow scale might map to having somewhat different irrational fears, sometimes? I like the notion of the shadow side of creating meaning. I definitely think irrational fears are one way that shadow might manifest.