Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Lode 10-26 II

Should special groups receive legal protection above and beyond the standard given to the rest of the populace? The answer illustrates whether one is a liberal—accoring to modern parlance—or a rational human being. For those off you who answered yes, let me explain in simple terms why you are emphatically wrong. The specific topic is “hate crime” legislation.

At first glance, it might seem like a good idea to protect African-Americans, women and homosexuals by mandating stiffer penalties for crimes against minorities. In actuality, is in insulting to every human being, protected minorities included.

As a side note, it is interesting that women are included as minorities even though they represent 50.9 percent of the US population according to the 2000 census. Evidently, one need not be a minority to be a minority. Tell me that's not confusing.

Ignoring the fact that hate-crime proponents cannot read census data—or, apparently, understand certain words in the dictionary—the fact remains that hate crime laws are immoral. The theory goes, that in order to correct the wrongs done to women, we are going to treat them better than men. To do away with discrimination against African-Americans, we are going to give them preferential treatment over their white brothers and sisters. In order to rectify homophobic behavior, gays and lesbians will be legally elevaleted over heterosexuals.

To be sure, racism, homophobia and sexism are not only deplorable, but unfortunately still with us. But two wrongs have never made a right, and no matter how it is spun, preferential treatment is always at the expense of someone else.

At this point, proponents of hate crime legislation like to remind me that I am a heterosexual white male from suburbia. Evidently I am only looking out for number one. While I am not a minority, the point is still one of principle. Discrimination is still discrimination. Sixteen thousand Americans were murdered last year. Ostensibly, most were not victims of “hate crimes”. Yet each victim is just as dead. They are no more dead if they were killed because of race, sex, or sexual orientation than if they were mudrdered because of a robbery gone awry. Try telling the mother of a white teenager that because her son was not the victim of a hate crime, his killers will get a more lenient sentence than if he were.

Why should the murderers of Matthew Shepard—the homosexual who was brutally murdered for being gay—be treated any differently than the perpetrators of any other murder? If we wish to bring esteem for protected minorities to the level of the majority, at least in regards to the law, we cannot place different values on people. A homosexual is not less worthy of protection than a heterosexual to be sure, but neither is he more worthy. A human life is a human life and should be cherished as such. I thought that's what Martin Luther King's “I have a dream” speech was about, but what do I know? As an unprotected minority, apparently the value of my opinion is reflected as such.

I wouldn't have such a hard time taking all these “civil rights” movements seriously if they would simply be consistent once in awhile. If a group wishes to live with the majority, it must leave nonsensical classifications aside and accept that we are all human beings, no more, no less. Anything else—like hate crime legislation—is pure rubbish, and should be rejected as such.

7 comments:

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troutsky said...

In a perfect world I would agree with your argument,and while I am no liberal,I worked on anti-bullying statutes and hate-crime legislation in the last session with a bunch of them ( liberals and gays, we have very few racial minorities) and believe they make a good case.
Example: last week in Missoula a car load of youths yelled anti-gay epitaths at two young men then beat the shit out of them.Had our legislation passed they would have recieved harsher penalties for having yelled the slurs (exposing motive and bias) than had they not.This sends a strong MESSAGE to our community that tolerance is NOW valued and bigotry is not, reversing a historical acceptance of prejudice,which if not directly overt was certainly implied.
In other words this is a remedy for past negligence, much the same way affirmative action policies seek to remedy a past of tolerated injustice.If you don't believe in such "social engineering", you don't understand the processes of civilization.Or the concept of justice.

The anti-bullying statute ,which would have included sexual gender into the categories of unacceptable slander, and also failed by the way, sprang from a desire to raise the awareness in the community that slurs such as faggot or queer were commonplace in schools and were being tolerated. Interestingly, our opposition in both cases was the Christian fundamentalist community whose concern was the "gay agenda".

A crime against a woman or other group ( not necessarily a minority) would only be elevated to hate crime status should intent be so established under legal tests. A white male could be a victim of a hate crime should the motive be proved to include anti-straight or white or male bias. (Say you were beat up by a bunch of black lesbians)
We already have civil rights laws protecting minorities, but our society has always treated gay bias with a wink and a nod,with a direct link to Mathew Shephard.I rest my case.

A Wiser Man Than I said...

Don't you think it's dangerous to start to judge the motives of people? From a strictly legal standpoint, I see no reason we can allow ourselves to distinguish a real hate crime from one that has nothing to do with a specific hatred towards a group. It is the cliched slipperly slope argument to be sure, but the slope is real.

It is easy to understand the reasons for hate crime legislation much like affirmative action as you mentioned. Ignoring the irony of rectifying an injustice by perpetuating a similar injustice, it remains to be seen whether or not such laws help.

And of course intolerance must not be tolerated. It is unfortunate, moreover, that those who come in Christ's name act so horribly. The love the sinner hate the sin mantra should be observed by these pitiful Christians.

Still though, instilling tolerance starts in the home, and the government should not step in to play parent, if only because it allows adults to abdicate responsibility. There is something to be said for negative sanctions, but we are not dealing with the most rational or reasonable people here.

My stance remains the same.

Jeff said...

Look at Canada where Priests and preachers face the very real possiblity of going to jail for preaching the Gospel. That is where hate crime legisation ends up going.
Read Michael O'Brien's novels, especially Eclipse of the Sun and Plague Journal.
Laws on the books can work just fine if enforced. We don't need mind police.

Seth said...

Excellent post. I especially liked your use of turning the question around concerning the mother who's son didn't committ a hate crime.

I've got a question, however. Can one classify marriage--for which the state affords benefits and incentives--as a "special group receiv[ing] legal protection...beyond the standard give to the rest of the populace"?

Seth said...

oh yeah, i almost forgot...

I wrote about this issue myself, but with more of a racial focus. I like to call the way society artificially treats blacks today "Reverse Racism."