Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Lode 11-2 II

Last week I argued against the wisdom of adopting "hate crimes" legislation, stating: "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 nor she more worthy. A human life is a human life and should be cherished as such."

In other words, hate crimes are unjust. That is a fact that—I thought—could not be disputed. Evidently I was wrong. A reader informed me of this, noting:

"When was the last time you sat down with a 'minority group' and asked their opinions on hate crimes legislation? Wouldn't that be appropriate if you didn't want to be seen as merely a "heterosexual white male from suburbia". At the very least it would help you make a stronger argument for your case. I would think that would be appropriate, considering your misconceptions written in the article. In my opinion, "Anything else," like your article,"is pure rubbish, and should be rejected as such.""

There are several points of interest here. First, minorities have—apparently—a monopoly on the standard for justice. It does not matter what I have to say on the matter because I am a heterosexual white male. My opinion would only have weight if I belonged to a special group deemed worthy of societal protection. My opinion is dismissed as "pure rubbish" merely because I did not feel the need to ask a minority what he or she thought of hate crimes. The open-mindedness is almost suffocating.

To be quite frank, I do not care what minorities think of this legislation, any more than I care what Haliburton thinks of the war in Iraq. It is just as sensible to ask NBA stars if they think the salary cap is fair. Or better yet, ask the CEO of dreaded Wal-Mart if his business practices are ethical. We can all argue that the system has it in for us, and at times, it does. Yet a philosophical concern for justice for all demands we do not bow to to the petty concerns of every individual. We cannot allow a subjective viewpoint to dominate something that must be decided objectively because it effects us all.

When it comes to these questions of justice, one need not be a protected group member to find the answers. One need only be a human being. Racism, homophobia and misogyny—or, for that matter, any other form of hatred based on silly characteristics—are abominable because they treat humans as less than such. Yet it is no less deplorable to have a law in place which does the exact same thing, even if its aims are noble.

The most interesting thing about the reader's reply is that there is so little substance. There are several fronts—albeit only moderately tenable ones—from which hate crimes legislation can be defended. One can argue that these laws will rectify previous wrongs and bring about a greater good. One can say that in order to strongly discourage the reprehensible behavior of narrow minded goons, the penalties mush be made stiffer. What cannot be done is to pretend that this legislation is moral. It is quite the opposite. It only takes a simple human being—any will do—to see such a simple truth.

7 comments:

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Seth said...

Wiser, you may want to consider adding word verification to your comments because you get quite a bit of spam...

Excellent post, by the way.

A Wiser Man Than I said...

Consider it done Seth.

troutsky said...

Ill wade in Eric.While we ask that justice be blind when deciding guilt or innocence we ,as a society, have established that it need not be blind to the priveledge and historical preference bestowed on certain demographic groups,primarily straight, white males.Acknowledging that bias exists we wish to remedy this "inherant affirmative action" with a countervailing force.This would be necessarily temporary, until equal opportunity can be shown to have been established.I don't see how this compromises anyones rights or liberty.

A Wiser Man Than I said...

You make the necessary distinction, that is, the policy must be temporary. However, the equal protection's clause seems to suggest that this would be an uncouth law. Moreover, I am hesitant to okay a divisive practice in order to unify. Affirmative action and the like, though noble, seem to do more harm than good.

This is from someone who will probably not be effected in an extensive way by these policies though, so take it for what you will.

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