Wednesday, November 4, 2009

When Did Equality Before the Law Become a Principle of the Far Right?

But there is nothing out of keeping with our legal traditions--contrary to the ravings of far-right wingers--about special penalties for hate crimes.

Some twenty-five years ago, rearing two and three year old boys, I received my comeuppance from my two year old. Though fervently believing in equality of treatment, I also subscribed to dealing with each child according to their personality. The elder of the two had such a tender conscience or need to be in the good graces of his parent, that whenever he broke the rules, he would more often than not bash himself, sometimes physically, for his transgression. The younger sibling didn’t seem to care. Therefore in meting out discipline, I was loathe to add insult to injury to the eldest’s self-flagellations while the younger would receive the customary correction. That is until I heard one of toddler’s favorite phrases “that ain’t fair”.

I have to believe that my two year was not that sophisticated to incorporate the intricacies of a far-right winger political worldview. And I am not clever enough to indoctrinate a two-year old whose vocabulary may not exceed a hundred words. So where do such sentiments emanate?

What I did learn is that such inequality of treatment, even if motivated by intents like equality of outcome or by nothing more than to do whatever necessary to ensure order, could undermine the moral authority of my position as a parent. I would always appear as playing favorites. My parents certainly thought so.

As a young pup, and incurring the wrath of the conservative element, I detested these greater punishments for assaulters of police. Furthermore, lenient jury decisions regarding errant cops galled my internal sense of justice. Rather than being excused for their behaviour because of the peril of the occupation for the public good, I believed that having to execute the law, they should be expected to abide by that which they execute. General reverence for law is undermined when the legislators and exactors of law fail to practice what they preach. Besides, the police, being of the same flesh and blood, are not, by nature, superior in virtue to the rest of society.

Minimally, increased sanctions against violence against police set a dangerous precedent. Well, the fester of this precedent is certainly reaching cancerous proportions.

Equality of treatment, perhaps originating as a Jewish idea in history, but surely elemental in man’s soul, was taken up by the West and enshrined in the U.S. Constitution to counter the preferences, that Kings and Nobles among others with influence, gave unto themselves.

But just as basic is man’s cri du coeur for justice is his propensity for seeking advantage. However, there is no justice to be found in special sanctions against intemperance towards special groups. Indeed there is no such thing as real justice in this age. For such to occur, there would need to be a coherent body of laws in which one could detect a rational balance and consistent thread. No, justice is no more than which is defined by whichever lobby group garners the most political clout and presents the more cunningly sophistic argument.

Punishments against rape, the most vital property possessed by a person often results in considerably lighter sentences than other forms of theft, because of the needs of capitalist entities. We have witnessed a decades-long campaign towards criminalizing tobacco while a corresponding movement is afoot to decriminalize marijuana although the latter contains many of the same cancer causing substances, usually in higher concentrations as well as psychosis-inducing elements.

Should two of my children, one gay and the other an intellectual nerd got to fisticuffs, one calling the other “f…ing fag’ and the other calling ‘f…ing browner’, each scratch each other eyes out and blood is spilt, can you honestly expect me to excuse the one and punish the other? Is the hate that one temporarily (hopefully) manifests for the other any different than the other, both on an individual level and towards the ‘group’ to which the other belongs? Isn’t hate manifested in all violence and murder? Isn’t there always that sentiment “that that other person is not fit to live” down in the depths of our nature that we tend to look away from, when we cave in to our violent urges? Why are we differentiating the quality of hate on the basis of which type of persons are in vogue at any given time?

Rather than sending a message to our society’s miscreants, hate laws breeds a general contempt for law and in my case (being Canadian) the Constitution for its inequity.