18 August 2018

Racially aggravated offences ...

In this country, we have a system whereby certain crimes, usually involving violence or disorder, are held to be more serious offences if there is a manifest element of religious or racial bigotry involved in their commission.

I am uneasy about this. If someone were to injure or kill me simply because he didn't like pompous old gits, I really don't see why this should be regarded as vastly less serious than a similar offence perpetrated out of racial or religious hatred.

When I worked in  London, I had the privilege of taking part, vested, in Orthodox Liturgies at the Cypriot Orthodox Church along the Camberwell New Road (Proprietor: the Bishop of Telmissos), and  I became very fond of the Church and its congregation. One Monday, the Church was broken into and the resident monk was kicked to death because he wouldn't tell the thugs where the money was. I'm obviously missing something, because that still seems to me every bit as horrific as kicking somebody to death because you don't like their race or religion.

Similarly -- when (to give an example) someone drives a van into pedestrians on a pavement and kills them, the only thing the Meejah seem to want to know is: was this "terrorist-related"? When it becomes clear that a particular example cannot be assigned to this category, you can hear the relief in the news-reader's voice as he/she says "It is not thought that the incident was terrorist-related". Oh good. Thank goodness for that. So that's OK, then. Well, not actually OK, of course, but nothing like as serious and newsworthy as if it were done by somebody with a dark skin who shouted Allahu Akbar.

I think I dislike the dragging of ideological preoccupations into criminal law.



Scelata said...

I would agree that it should not be enshrined in law, but I do understand the sense of relief. Terrorism is committed on behalf of the tribe to which one belongs, or aspires. The crazy guy who lives next door has no cohort, the idealogue may well be one of a group.

Calvin Engime said...

That's the trouble with you, Father, your paradigms are all out of date. Now, these men whom you Other by calling "thugs" may indeed have lived at a certain distance from the ideal by kicking a monk to death for money, but did it even occur to you to ask what they needed the money for? You can't just lay down abstract rules from an ivory tower, you have to have the empathy to understand that in the concrete circumstances of life in the real world, every act is a symbol that can be assigned meaning only relative to all other symbols to which it stands in relation, and understanding the nature of a so-called "murder" requires an examination of the power dynamic between the so-called "killer" and the so-called "deceased." Now, if you kick to death a person of colour, you have to view that in the context of the whole history of oppression of people of colour by the British Empire, the Catholic Church, and old white men generally. Such an act is an exercise of power and privilege. As we read nowadays in our most prestigious newspapers, "racism" is the combination of racial prejudice and power, such that Louis Farrakhan cannot be a racist against Jewish people because Jews are too wealthy, educated, and privileged relative to black people...likewise, murder is really the combination of killing and power. If a person of colour kicks you to death, it is an act by the powerless against a sector of society that frankly deserves to be taken down a peg.

Arthur Gallagher said...

I agree, Father, the so-called "hate crimes" are a perversion of justice. If I kill you through malice, the origin of that malice is unimportant. Historically, enhanced sentencing for racially and gender connected crimes is something quite new, and is designed to punish not wickedness, but non-compliance with liberal ideas. It is also used to equalize the number of each racial group in prison, but this has not worked out in practice. If I smash a shop window on a gay bookstore, hate crimes treatment allows me to be treated as a serious criminal, and I will be punished as if I maimed someone, or committed some heinous crime, not as a vandal of property. That is wrong.

Sue Sims said...

Calvin Enigme - a masterly* analysis. In fact, the real 'hate crime' here is clearly the arrest and prosecution (assuming that the swinish arm of the ruling class actually managed to catch anyone) of the underprivileged man* who so gallantly protested in this fashion against racism, capitalism and theocracy.

*Sorry about the sexist, patriarchal terminology.

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