A blog article by Bonniejean Alford (Educator, Activist, World Citizen)
I was listening to talk radio the other day. Yes, I know it seems crazy.
Well, they were discussing the new hate crime law. I am so excited about this law, as now maybe their will be some further equal treatment in the American legal system in terms of the severity of the crime. There has been historical evidence to support the idea that some people just aren’t treated equal in the system (that should go without saying).
Or, at the very least, the punishment doesn’t always fit the crime.
And here I am referring to the fact that someone can be assaulted, even murdered, simply because another person dislikes, or hates, the culture the attacked is part of. Not that violence of any kind really needs a focus on some particular issue or another. It happens and it is horrible either way. But throughout history, violence against marginalized groups, such as women, racial ‘minorities,’ and homosexuals, has often gone unnoticed, unpunished, and definitely under-punished, whereas crimes committed by many of those same groups goes over-punished.
This is categorically, absolutely, and without a doubt wrong. Period. End of story.
So why then has it happened? Why the differential in treatment? Simply put, those at the top of the political food chain, the ones who have the power, want to keep said power. The best way to do that is often to strike fear into the hearts of those deemed socially below them on the ladder.
This is exactly why the new hate law is so important and necessary. One caller on the show made the comment that we shouldn’t single any kind of crime out because they all should be treated equal. They are right, they should be.
But they aren’t being treated equally and neither are the people involved.
This law is designed to balance things out within the legal system, to ensure that those treated unfairly and unjustly in the past won’t find the same maltreatment in the future. Maybe, one day, the law will become unnecessary, but for now it is very much needed.
And here is why:
Despite what the constitution says about “all men being created equal,” we aren’t. We all have differences. People exist in different walks of life, religiously or secularly. People come at the world from different places and conceptual frameworks. People simply have different ideologies. That said, people also have a right to be treated with dignity and equality, as if they were created exactly the same, without difference.
But this isn’t our reality.
We have difference, and are ultimately treated as such.
Instead, it should be known that it is an amazing thing to recognize the differences amongst people. With that difference, however, there comes great responsibility to treat people well. This law is working to stabilize the legal system and aims itself at treating people well. It wouldn’t be necessary if people just respected one another and followed that old age golden rule: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
But then again, if everyone followed that golden rule, then life might become boring and predictable. In some ways, that may just be better.