Dealing with serious social problems by creating laws which only protect certain individuals is a method for avoiding root causes by making small changes in their effects. Thus we have new legislation applied to old problems which exist, in part, because old legislation was never fairly enforced. The new laws make some people feel better, especially if they’re in the legal business. But the public is usually divided along familiar for or against lines, remaining in the mindset they had before the new laws were applied to the old problems.
Serious issues of discrimination have brought legal battles which excluded much of the general public by operating over their heads, and out of their minds. The resulting victories were for some individual members of a minority , but actually more for the system which thrives on social discrimination. When privileged groups within targeted populations achieve seeming equality with the mainstream, countless members of those same groups are left still suffering from discrimination that can only be met in part by laws. What is needed is radical change in the system these laws maintain.
Among the national establishment’s favorite new legislative moves are those against what are labeled hate crimes, in a sense implying that some other crimes might be provoked by love . The implication that pain hurts more when it is the result of hate flies in the face of any supposed logic , but the reason for passing such laws seems to be motivation for justice, even if majority injustice continues under cover of minority law. Both language and law sustain rather than change systems of social discrimination which maintain power and class relations, no matter which discriminated group may gain entry level status or protection for some of its members.
Perhaps the worst case of sanitized madness is the massive hate crime called war. In war, mass murder and serial killing are morally legalized as necessary for geopolitical and social safety. This perpetuates the same system that labels some special crimes as being hateful, if they befall a class of minorities which has the legal and political power to gain some exclusion from the social norm of discrimination. But once war is started, no people, minority or otherwise, can demand exception or exclusion from the targeted population: humanity.
Since there is some acceptance of a narrowed and specific view of hate crimes, it may be time to broaden the label to encompass and cover a more general sector of humanity: Everyone.
What can be more hateful than bombing cities, destroying national infrastructures and transforming human beings into corpses, cripples and refugees? The ongoing atrocity in Iraq has seen the near total destruction of a nation and a people, unacknowledged as such by most political and media mind managers who line up in support of hate crime legislation. What if there were a movement to designate war as the most serious hate crime of all? In fact, rather than discriminate against special groups of people, warfare is an equal opportunity mass murderer, with alleged villains joining thousands of innocents in the slaughter. Can we be serious about protecting the rights of some people from being slandered in speech, when we do nothing to safeguard life itself for humans who have been falsely designated as enemies, or, more usually, are nonexistent in popular consciousness?
If the average American were witness to the carnage that our foreign policy has created in Iraq, or what it supports in Palestine, the movement against such policies and war itself might be much stronger. But as long as we are manipulated into only seeing some hardship and discrimination while missing out on most, we can be swept up in righteous indignation at one form of injustice, while we support an even more criminal form that commits mass murders in our name. Designating a physical or language assault on another human being as a hate crime, but only in special cases in which response from society is based on segments of an offended group and not all members of the group, serves to strengthen and not change the system from which the discrimination and hate originates. We can make such laws forever, and possibly even help a relative handful of people in the process. But as long as we accept and even in false patriotism fiercely support the mass hatred for humanity that is the reality of war, our law making powers are inflicted on minorities, for other minorities, while majorities remain under the hateful control of powers that show no respect at all for human life.
It makes little sense to claim that someone who hits you over the head with a bat because you are female, nonwhite, or gay commits a more serious crime than someone who hits you over the head with a bat to steal your wallet or purse. By creating new categories and sub categories of people and crimes, we simply add to the list of injustice and court case loads, while doing little or nothing about real discrimination which only rarely involves literally taking a stick upside someone’s head.
Seemingly nonviolent discrimination administered in hiring, housing and health care , widespread in our society, is not seen as criminal. But when we practice large scale social murder, our unwillingness to treat it as criminal is puzzling. Maybe it’s because it hasn’t been suggested that war is the ultimate hate crime, and needs to be confronted and dealt with as such. Consider this such a suggestion . If the mass murder of war is not a hate crime, then there are no hate crimes. And the president of the United States is a brilliant humanist.
Frank Scott writes political commentary which appears in the Coastal Post, a monthly publication in Marin County, and on his shared blogsite at: http://legalienate.blogspot.com.