Quick Ramble: On Hate Crimes and Justice

Are you affected by hate crimes? Graffiti, vandalism, verbal abuse, threats of violence, physical assault?  Homophobia, transphobia, religious bigotry, racism, disability-related crime?  Do you know where to report it?  Stop hate.

Yes, stop hate.

In the USA as well – stop hate.  In a free country, where you have freedom of thought, freedom of speech, conscience and religion – stop hate.

One of the few things I disagree with some people on – including my own husband – is the topic of “hate crimes.”  More specifically, the tacking on of a more severe punishment because a crime has been deemed as one of hatred based on prejudice or intolerance toward a person of a specific race, religion, gender, or social group.  Are hate crimes worth punishing someone more over?

My simple answer is no.  My not-so simple answer is no, hate crimes are not worth punishing someone more over, because it borders on policing speech and even thought.  Punish the person for the crime, not for what they thought at the time. We need to live in a world where punishments reflect the crime, where criminals are criminals who happen to be prejudiced against someone else – not in a world where the prejudiced are made criminals.

I’ve only been to one courtroom in my entire life that I am aware of, and that was to serve on the jury of a trial where one man was being accused of entering into someone’s house and breaking a photo frame intentionally.  Our job as the jury was to figure out, based on the presentation by both lawyers and their witnesses, whether or not it could be proven that this man entered this other person’s house to intentionally break a photo frame, beyond reasonable doubt, meaning that it fell upon the prosecutor to prove that this guy did this crime – and to do it so well that we had no doubts about it whatsoever.  Later on we the jury found that there was reasonable doubt, and so the accused was found not guilty.

See, the problem with classifying a crime as a ‘hate crime’ is that it doesn’t work with the concept of ‘reasonable doubt’.  You can’t know all of someone’s thoughts at any given time, let alone prove it beyond reasonable doubt.  It’s just not possible to know what any one person is thinking.  You can’t just say, “Jane Doe was thinking hateful thoughts about wheelchair-bound people at the time she pushed her disabled co-worker down a flight of stairs, so she needs to be punished for a hate crime, not just an assault on a disabled person” and expect it to fly, beyond reasonable doubt.  Sure, Jane Doe is a douche for thinking the way she does about disabled people, but it’s her right to think these things.

It’s not reasonable or just to lengthen or shorten a sentence based on the thought the person had at the time.  If you go the opposite direction, lessening someone’s sentence because they were emotional or distraught at the time, it’s the same.  If Jane Doe pushed the wheelchair-bound co-worker down the stairs because she was upset that the co-worker put her husband in the hospital, that does not excuse the fact that Jane Doe committed a crime.  It does not excuse the fact that Jane Doe took the law into her own hands.  Jane Doe should still get charged for her crime, and that sentence should be the same across the board – whether she did it out of hatred, emotion, or just because she felt like it, Jane Doe committed a crime and the punishment should fit the crime.

Don’t take my words as saying that it’s okay to commit a crime against people that you hate.  I hate racism, religious bigotry, sexism, and plenty of other prejudices that are apparent in the world.  I’m not trying to defend the actions that criminals take – just their thoughts.  Just their right to free thought and free speech.  It’s a pretty dark and ugly example, but you can’t arrest a pedophile for just being a pedophile, he has to take some sort of illegal action before he can be arrested for doing wrong.

Last quick example before I go make my morning coffee: Say you made a tray of cupcakes for St. Patty’s day, and covered them in green frosting.  While you’re in the other room, your son, who you know absolutely hates the color green, decides to eat all of the cupcakes.  When you discover that your child has eaten all of the green cupcakes, what do you do? Do you punish the child for eating all of the cupcakes, or do you punish him more harshly because he ate all of the green cupcakes?

“Atheists are true believers in God.”

Over the last year or two, I’ve been carefully considering my own personal beliefs, and because of all this thought, I feel I’ve gotten just another step closer to knowing just who I am as a person.  I’m not going to get into deep explanations or rambling paragraphs about the ins and outs of my beliefs, but to put it simply, the closest title that I can give myself is a Pagan Atheist. Or Atheistic Pagan.  I don’t know.  What matters is, that’s what I identify myself as, that’s what I feel comfortable being, and there you go.

Now, this particular ramble falls on the topic addressed by an older video (2009) by one of my favorite Youtubers, NonStampCollector, a well-known atheist on who makes videos on Youtube.  I wish I could speak as clearly and eloquently as this guy does, but he has a way of taking the jumbled up words in people’s brains and putting them into videos that just makes you sit back and think, Ugh, why couldn’t I say it like that?!

I’ll share the video below, and feel free to watch others if you wish.

Are Politics Evidence of Humanity’s Continuing Evolution?

As I sit here after reading article after article written by people of different political opinions, I wonder to myself, “How can these people BELIEVE this stuff?” It simply does not make sense to me, not a bit. Yet somehow, others are able to make sense of it, and stand behind those differing opinions. This opens up the question to me, is there some sort of physical cause for this?

It turns out that there may be.

A study done by the University College of London found that people who identified themselves as liberals generally had a larger anterior cingulate cortex – a region near the front of the brain that is involved in decision making, empathy, rational cognitive functions, and emotion.

By contrast, those who identified as conservatives had larger amygdala-structures that are linked with the processing and memory of emotional reactions, fear and anxiety.

The researchers suggest that liberals tend to be better at managing conflicting information, while conservatives are thought to be better at recognizing threats, adding that such personality traits are linked with specific brain structure.

In 2010, researchers from the University of California San Diego and from Harvard University identified a “liberal gene,” which has been linked with a personality type driven to seek out new experiences.

I found this information startling, and interesting all the same. The fact that it could be possible that our political inclinations are tied in with the way that our brain is formed is very interesting to me, and leads me to wonder whether or not this could be considered a sign of the continuing evolution of Homo sapiens.

Looking through history, you may notice that things tend to get more conservative the further you go back: slavery has been abolished, women have been given the right to vote, and now homosexuals are being given the right to marry – all forward-thinking and liberal ideas at the time of their occurring.

My simple thought is this: Maybe it’s not a mistake. Maybe Mother Nature is trimming the fat by making us more tolerant. It’s definitely in our best interests as a species, right? Survival of the fittest? We’re evolving to become more tolerant and accepting of new experiences, because that is the best way for our species to adapt, grow, survive, and thrive.

Perhaps it’s just hopeful thinking, but one maybe one day, racists will cease to exist. Maybe one day, people will be able to live and let live. Until then, I guess we’ll just have to sit back and enjoy watching the antics of the GOP.

Interesting Stuff to Read or Watch

 

Art Update

Thought I should update a few drawings that I’ve done lately.  It’s not much, but mostly political cartoon stuff, I guess.  Not amazing, but I like ’em.  They focus on Santorum, but to be fair it’s only because he’s a really easy target.

"Don't mind me. I'm just making sure you don't have a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be."

 

 

"Wanna see a magic trick? You gotta elect me, first."

Mabon and Life

Well, for us down in Australia-land (and everywhere else on the southern hemisphere), it’s Mabon, or the Autumnal Equinox.

The Autumnal Equinox is all about the balance between light and dark, life and death, summer and winter. It’s celebrated on 21 March in the s. hemisphere, and 21 September in the n. hemisphere. It’s a time of thanksgiving and harvest, one of which I have not been able to fulfill because my tomatoes got eaten up by bugs!  (I definitely do not have a green thumb).

I do have a lot to be thankful for: a loving and supportive husband, an awesome family, my health (well sorta!), a somewhat creative mind, and of course all those other things, like a roof over my head, food to eat, stuff like that. 🙂

I can’t help but reflect on the darker stuff, though, what with the impending darkness of winter coming up.  Lots of emotional stuff, things like anger and anxiety.

I’m supposed to be starting my course on Business soon – technically I am all registered, all enrolled, all ready to begin, but I’m still waiting to hear from the instructor.  Been two days going on three now since I was supposed to receive word from them.  :/ Studying from home… I thought it was supposed to be less of a pain.

Been spending some time reflecting on where I am in life and where I want to go.  I’ve had some passing thoughts – maybe I should get into graphic design, or maybe open up a store… But lately I’ve been getting ideas like, maybe I should be a photographer, or a journalist… Take pictures and sell them, like Spiderman!

I’m sort of frustrated that I still don’t even know what I want to do professionally.  It feels like a giant roadblock.  I want to find something that I will love doing, but until then I’ll need to study and  cross my fingers hoping that someone will hire me. :/

What is with Politics these days?

I think there’s something inherently childish about the Republican Party as it stands today. More specifically, I speak of the right wing media. Even more specifically than that, I’m talking about Fox News frequently referring to Bill Maher as “Pig” Maher and Rush Limbaugh’s recent comments about college student Sandra Fluke, calling her a “slut,” a “prostitute,” and inviting her to post videos of herself having sex on the internet so everybody could watch.

Of course, when I speak of these things, particularly recently what with the whole Rush slut comments, I’m faced with responses like, “But…But Bill Maher called Sarah Palin a c*nt!!!”

My response?

Bill Maher is a comedian. There’s a difference between a comedian telling a bad joke and a famous right-wing radio talk-show host calling a woman a slut because she is standing up for women to receive contraceptives paid for by their employer’s insurance so that they can get the reproductive health care that they can’t afford.

I’m sorry. I used to be a pretty conservative person. But then I grew up. I started forming opinions as to why I believed this or why I opposed that. After that happened, I was able to decide that I did not want to have any part associating with those who would deny my brothers and sisters the right to marry whomever they want, among many other things. It’s just not who I am, not who I want to be, and not what I want for my home country.

I just don’t know what’s going on lately. The political climate of the US has become one of tolerance toward religious bigotry, blatant sexism, obvious homophobia and juvenile name-calling. It’s tiresome and frightening all at the same time.

End of the World

With every generation, there’s always the folks who think that this is it. This is the last generation that will ever be.  These are the end times. These are the days that will cause the destruction of humankind altogether.  This is the end of the world.

I remember watching a documentary about a cult focused on the end of the world around 2008, and thought it was pretty interesting.  In wandering around the internet, I’ve stumbled upon it once again.

It’s definitely worth a watch, if only for the “Holy Crap” factor.  I’ll link it below (Click the “Read More” link to see all of the parts).

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