Seeking joy and meaning in a joyless mind and meaningless existence

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hate Crimes Demonstrate the Hate

I am opposed to hate crime legislation.  I know that is not a particularly popular opinion in the eyes of my queer brethren, but I believe hate crime laws overreach the government's role in policing its citizens.  Behavior is an objective standard by which crimes can be determined and punished, but taking it upon ourselves to divine the motivations for those behaviors is woolly at best.  I believe hate crime laws are fundamentally flawed in their own right, but the inevitable "slippery slope" scenario is that hate crime might lead to a ban on hate speech or other forms of free expression.  Could thought crimes be far behind that?

Of course, I've met a lot of LGBT people believe that hate speech should be illegal.  I can certainly appreciate their sentiments, as could anyone who's been the victim of derogatory epithet.  However, I am passionately, vehemently opposed to any such ban, and I rue the fact that they are a common feature on college campuses across the nation.  Hate speech is extremely hurtful, but we simply can't arbitrarily start deciding who has free speech and who doesn't.  In a free society, bigots have the fundamental right to be bigots, and the ugliness of hate speech is one of the prices of freedom.  Purging the world of such rhetoric certainly seems noble, but it is a misguided—and ultimately dangerous—proposition.  In an afterword to Fahrenheit 451, author Ray Bradbury warned that the distopia of censorship presented in his book is just as likely to be the result of minorities overzealous to get rid of the offensive:

The point is obvious.  There is more than one way to burn a book.  And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.  Every minority, be it Baptist / Unitarian, Irish / Italian / Octogenarian / Zen Buddhist, Zionist / Seventh-day Adventist, Women's Lib / Republican, Mattachine / FourSquareGospel feels it has the will, the right, the duty to douse the kerosene, light the fuse.
{Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, "Coda"}

I bring this issue up because yesterday I read a story about an Omaha, NE woman attacked in her home.  A hate crime is being investigated because anti-gay slurs were spray painted on the walls and possibly even carved into this poor woman's chest.  Please do not get me wrong!  I want justice for this woman!  This is a heinous, heinous crime, and the people who perpetrated it should fry.  And I am definitely not denying that this woman was the victim of a hate crime (whether or not she is actually a lesbian), but I still don't think the state should be in the business of trying to get into a criminal's head.

On a personal note, I want to say that my heart goes out to this woman, and I wish her a speedy recovery from her physical and psychological injuries!

If you read further the story, you will see that Omaha recently passed a "fairness amendment, a proposal to ban discrimination in housing and employment based on a person's sexual orientation or gender identity."  Unfortunately, anti-gay groups have attracted enough signatures to challenge the measure.  While I may be against hate crime laws, I am definitely for these legal protections for LGBT persons.  The senseless violence of this attack demonstrates the need for such protections.

Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

My parents gave me two inexpensive IKEA-type chairs for my new apartment.  I have manages to break not one, but both chairs.  How, you ask?  Merely by sitting on them.  That's right, the stress of supporting me was so great that both chairs said "fuck it" and gave up.  I broke the second chair last week.  When I landed on the floor, I happened to catch the eye of my older cat Bailey.  I could swear he was thinking, "Smooth move, fat ass!"  But then he's always been the snarky one.

Definitely Needs Something

My friend Jonathan is right...Plain yogurt is disgusting.  I cannot find a flavored Greek yogurt with less than 10 grams of sugar.  So yesterday I tried my first plain yogurt, but I could hardly choke it down.  I think all of the sugar balances the overly tart taste of the yogurt, and there was no way I was going to be able eat that every day.  I added some Stevia sweetener a co-worker had.  That made it palatable, but it was still not great.  So last night I bought some fresh cherries and made a fruit purée sweetened with half a cup of Splenda.  I'm leery of artificial sweeteners, but the amount I would actually be consuming daily is negligible.