All people are not created equal, but they should be treated as if they were

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.


42 thoughts on “All people are not created equal, but they should be treated as if they were

  1. Nice article – It is unnerving to think that all is power-webs spun before oneself yet this is a concept that needs to be meditated on more.

  2. I believe that the new hate crime law is benificial to our society in many ways. It will stop hate crimes amongst the lesser minorities that go unnoticed or unpunished by the law. It will bring the people in all societies one step closer to being equals. It will also bring the legal system into check. By this I mean the leagl system will become more aware of hate crimes being committed and not taken lightly. With this new law hate crimes will surely go down because there is a bigger consequence for the actions they have committed. Thus slowly creating more equality for minorites.

    1. True, it will decrease the amount of hate crimes on the minorities, and yes we will become more aware of hate crimes. But, is this not discrimination in itself? Why should the punishment be any greater for a crime against a minority? Is he any greater than the majority? And the same can be asked of the majority to the minority. But why should the minority get any special treatment? And why must we label it as a “hate” crime? Any killer or abuser of any sort has the rage of hate boiling inside them. Yes, at times the crime is done solely on fact that they are a different skin color, religion, ethnicity, etc. But why solve discrimination with discrimination? We are getting trapped in an endless circle.

      1. I believe what is meant by this article is that the punishment of hate crimes should be greater for a crime against a minority, because currently they are being underpunished compared to the majority. The attempt is only to make the punishments equal amongst groups, not to create further discrimination and separation.

      2. Right, but when we make the punishment on the minority greater than that on the majority, it is discrimination towards the majority. When one punishment is greater than the other, it is discrimination.

      3. I agree with Alex on this and this is something that drives me nuts. It seems extremely counterproductive to me. By putting this “handicap” on the minorities and the victims of hate crimes it is CREATING an inequality in itself. It is like reverse discrimation. The best way to be completely equal is to have a laisse-faire type attitude where less intervention is better. There needs to be a standard for punishment of crime, no matter race, religion, sexuality, or any other difference in the people.

      4. However, when a hate crime is committed, is sitting back and letting it be (laissez-faire attitude) really going to solve the problem considering the state of American society as it today? I think the better comment is that “there needs to be a standard for punishment of crime, no matter race, religion, sexuality, or any other difference in people.” The only addition to that comment I would add would be that the only difference in punishment should be based on the severity of the crime itself.

      5. I agree with Alex and Andrew for the most part. The fact that a law is being created to make people more equal is self contradicting because it takes for granted that the law makers are the “right” ones to do so. A law in itself intersects with equality as its aim is to set limitations and restrictions on what people can or cannot do. This is stupid. Maybe if we stopped listening to media outlets, we could concentrate on living…

      6. I’m convinced. Alex, Andrew, and PDZ, thanks for clarifying my own confusion. Reading from your view point makes a lot more sense.

      7. Thank you Andrew. Although Ashley does make a good point in the quote, there does only need to be a standard. and if we only base the punishment on the severity of the crime it would not discriminate at all. But then that would spark the question, is killing a minority more severe a crime? I think not…

      8. Alex, your comment actually draws the attention to a new comment I just made on this article. It’s sad to me that sometimes our law makers’ and enforcers’ personal views and standings can affect the equality of punishment. Although, this isn’t supposed to happen, I think it does and this could be a cause of the very problem we are discussing now with hate crimes.

      9. Actually Ashley when maybe saying laisse-faire was not the correct term. What I was simply trying to say was that the more we try to intervene with leveling “the playing field” and creating in a sense handicaps for minorities, we then are creating more inequalities and further distancing these groups. By no means did I mean that crimes should be unpunished, but rather that there is a standard of punishment upheld to everyone regardless of race, religion, or other factors. After reading your comment I believe we are on the same page, however I just wanted to clear up what was meant behind my initial comment

      10. That is a very good point Sarah, I didnt think of that. but in a sense it still comes down to the people… we are the ones who elect the law makers and enforcers. Although we are not in control of the decisions they make when they are in office, we are the ones that put them there. Again, good point.

    2. I agree with Amy i think the new hate crime is good.It will make people think twice before they commit the crime. I also think if they stone people for committing crime in public , that will stop a lot of crime. People will think of the consequences before committing the crime. If they passed a law like that it will be less crime.

      1. I think that makes a lot of sense Deborah, but there are still those arrogant people that don’t care about the consequence ands are like “I don’t care what my punishment is, as long as my task gets done.” And the worst part is, we can’t point those people out. Once we’re able to do that THEN there will be less crime. But that’s a long shot, a very very long shot.

  3. I really like this article since it represents a little bit of hope for every women or minority out there in our society. Coming from a third world country, where assaulted women haven’t received justice because of the authorities’ ignorance, this law could represent a hope for all the Salvadorian women since we are very influenced by the American culture, which means that things could change for us as well. It could even represent a hope for women and every victim worldwide, since American culture is so influencial.

    1. I do agree that this change could cause great influence worldwide and cause others to follow suit. However, I also think that there will be the other side who will view this change as a sign of weakness in our society and probably tighten their already strict rules. After all, the ‘old way’ of life is a hard thing for some to let go… Even my own grandparents show some (and I emphasize some) racism towards others, not because they are mean or anything, but because that is the way they grew up with and they don’t want to embrace the changes happening all around them.

    2. Sonia R., be careful, social influence has a why of changing a society. Not all change is for the better, it’s important to remember your heritage.

  4. I think that this new hate crime law definitely has a great goal behind the creation of this law. Realistically, however, human nature will always remain present. I don’t mean to look at this in a pessimistic way, but will this law really create a significant change? Look at the movements led by our important past hero, Martin Luther King Jr. with the integration ideology, the march of May 1, 2007 made by those thousands for the fight to legalize the immigrants of the nation; they happen and then there is change and then decades or months later, their efforts go unnoticed again because US society continues at its normal pace. It continues to judge, to speculate, to create differences even greater than what we have now. I’m not saying that the nation is doomed to be an unfair society, but just that one hate crime law is not going to change decades of the damage brought upon by human nature and stereotypes.

  5. I agree with the hate crime law. I feel that it puts some needed attention on hate crimes and shows that they will not be tolerated. Discrimination and racism is a huge issue in our country and I feel that it is really important that we put laws into place that attempts to end it.

    To murder, assault, abuse, etc. a person based on the color of their skin, who they do (or don’t) pray to, or their preference of sexual partners should NOT be tolerated and I think that having hate crime laws is a great idea and shows that we are making progress.

  6. I agree that this seems to be a good law. My one question though, is will it be upheld and what about the people that have already been subjected to hate crimes? I mean what about rape against women? I mean often times the victims do not open up about the crimes commited against them. I do think this law is a step in the right direction though and something obviously needs to be done.

  7. I agree with Daisy g. human nature will always get in the way. It’s a sad reality we must face. It weighs my heart to say this but this law means nothing, unless the victims change. Most hate crimes go unpunished because most go unreported. And that’s the cold sad fact, people being victimized must change. Until that happens, things will never change.

    1. See, I believe that this law will create a change. In a society like ours, sometimes it is the little things that make a big difference… just like Iowa allowing same sex marriage, it is such a small step… but means so much. This law may be a small step, but it may cause great change. I personally agree with youforgotyourpass that “most hate crimes go unpunished because most go unreported”… but hopefully this new law will encourage more people to take that chance and even perhaps encourage more laws to be set in place that will offer additional protection and security to those who have suffered.

      1. Great point Mitch. Honestly, it is very true that one little thing can create a revolution. With this new law I still don’t think that it will be the case, but at least the government is realizing that it IS an issue and they are doing something about it.

      2. Mitch, I also think you have a great point. Change has to begin somewhere, whether it begins big or small. Change is many times what people make of it and if society is enthusiastic about this law, than I believe it can do great things for society, and most importantly the victims of hate crimes. If we as a society agree with this new law then I believe we should back it so that it may have the power to stir up great change in the way the legal system is run.

  8. This has been the issue since day one. The color of one’s skin or the appearance of one person can mean their life. It’s horrible that we judge so strongly and have taken so many lives for such a thing. Hopefully, this law does something to improve society and balance things out. It’s not ok to treat someone unfairly. Making things predictable and boring is better than having people treated poorly for their appearance. Human Rights is something I feel very strongly about.

  9. This law would benefit our society in many ways but I can see problems in this law if it does get passed. In one way, it would still be the majority vs. the minority (his word vs. your word). This would still make the judge responsible for the ruling on the case and if he is racist in any way this law will never be properly enforced. I would nave no problem with this law if I thought it would really be like it looks on paper.

  10. This rule is good and should help out our society by treating everyone equal. Over time, it should help us all out. I agree with Bonniejean, if we all followed that old quote “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” who knows where the world would be at now? People have to dissagree on somethings, otherwise this could be a really boring world.

  11. Youforgotyourpass, I know what you mean, but I personally think that this law may have a good change in the American Culture, as well as worldwide. Probably is not gonna make a huge difference, but it will change a little bit And, I must also tell that it’s because of my heritage that I agree with this article. My culture has always been a culture where machismo dominates, and where women have and are always been looked at as objects.

  12. This hate crime law will take a very long time to come into full effect. People are always going to be judged by what they look like, race, color..etc. Remember we also have stereotypes in our society that also play a big part. People should all be treated equal but that doesn’t mean that it is going to happen anytime soon. Over the years our nation has improved greatly on racism and segregation. We are kind of stuck in a rut though of past events that people keep remembering and that keeps us from moving forward.

  13. This quote catches my attention and I believe it is a key truth to corruption: “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.” I can agree with this for any chain of control. The government, and police officers just being two of them. Profiling is how cops abuse social justice everyday. Up with new hate crime laws, down with abused powers!

  14. I agree with the hate crime law, this at least shows that our society has finally come to an understanding and is willing to change and make progress. Although I think that with this new law it may just focus on women and minorities and groups of that sort, But back to what Mitch has said, change has to start somewhere, regardless whether it’s big or small. Change has to start somewhere and I’m sure this new law will help, because every little bit does. That being said, I think in order for this law to work society needs to recognize the problem and be willing to make changes within.

  15. Just a comment. I just finished watching a movie on Liftetime called “A Girl Like Me”. This movie was about a transgender who was brutally murdered. At the end of the movie, the two teenagers who killed this person were convicted of voluntary manslaughter, BUT were not convicted of a hate crime. How is this allowed???? The anger I felt after watching the movie was tremendous. This was clearly a hate crime and these two boy who commited this act of hatred were not prosecuted along these lines by any means..

    1. I agree with Charli. I watched that movie too. I was very angry because it was considered a voluntary man slaughter and not a hate crime. No one deserved to die because their lifestyle or the way they choose to live their lives. We all choose our pathway through life, whether it is good or bad , but no one deserves to be brutally murdered.

  16. People are now created equal for a reason. To show the difference in everyone and to keep the world inbalanced, to keep everyone in there place. But at the same time, people should be treated equal and it should be, but it never will. I think people in the world will never get along with people who are different in the world because people are scared of what they don’t know and can’t change and they will always get along with people of their own.

  17. People are created at all different levels. depending on the situation of the family your born into. I agree with Travis though, people are going to be people and everyone is never going to get along with everyone.

  18. I think another interesting point is that ultimately one person or a small group of people have to decide someone’s punishment. I think its important to recognize the inequalities in people’s thoughts and views, which may, therefore, affect an individual’s punishment. It seems sometimes that our own law makers’ and enforcers’ views can be manipulated by their personal stand or view of a subject.

  19. yeah I agree with Ashley S. The law enforcers can decide on things coming from their personal opinion. More laws should be voted on, specially for big laws.

  20. People are not created equally we all have our own situations and backgrounds, but regardless of where you come from , we all should be treated the same. That virtue is instilled when we are young but it does not seem to carry over. I’m taking a criminal justice class and the rates of how many African Americans get convicted compared to how many white people get convicted is shocking.

  21. I completely am for the hate crime law. So many in our society feel superior to other’s of a certain race, ethinicity or religion. Like the constitution states we are ALL equal, no matter what we look like or who we are. I think this law will encourage those who are less tolerent to think twice before comitting a crime against someone based on race or other charachtertisitcs. No one has the right to decide what race is acceptable and should be tolerated and which ones should be harmed. We are all members of this country and at some point people have to realize that it’s not okay to discrimate against someone based on ignorant topics. There is a fine line between tolerence & hate. People need to realize that our community/country needs to work on acceptance and this law will really benefit everyone.

  22. I agree with the part in this article where you talked about the constitution saying that we are created equal, because we are created equally but were are not the same people, I guess is what I am trying to say. When the Constitution was created there wasn’t much diversity at all so I mean back then it was a good statement but now I think it needs to change. There are so many different people in the United States now and we really aren’t equal, unfortunately. But then again if we were all equal things would get boring and it would be this perfect world. So I am also kind of torn with this article, I really do like the idea but I just don’t think that everyone being equal will ever be achieved, I feel like such a Debbie Downer saying that. I also think that it would be a really good idea to revise parts of the Constitution because I know this was not the only thing that the Government has had issues with in the past. Society changes over time and yes I know that it is the foundations of our country but there needs to be rules that coincide with our society. People just need to learn how to respect one another, that’s all there really is to it, but will that ever happen? There really is no way to tell.

  23. We’re taught that being different is a good thing and that being different makes us each as individuals ultimately unique. However, when a uniqueness is shunned upon in society, we tend to bandwagon on in the pact. Being mistreated shouldn’t be the end result of being who we are and who we want to be. If everyone’s thoughts and opinions revolved around one atmosphere, then what a boring culture that would lead us. It’s sad to think though, that in a world that’s so vastly filled with people of many variances, we tend to find the smallest detail about them that we don’t appreciate, only to make them feel inferior. I have to agree that in the end, the cause of the need to derive naturally born uniqueness to mistreating someone until they can’t take it anymore, is power.

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