The Freedom To LiveOctober 31, 2009
I’m suspicious of anyone who declares they don’t have a prejudiced bone in their body. Having likes and dislikes through the prism of experience, or something less tangible and logical is part of the human condition. Most of us work hard to not be led by our basest feelings and instincts. The laws of the land are the nicotine patches to help us. Some of us are changed positively by having our prejudices dismantled. Some of us, however, cultivate our prejudices, then let them loose like Pitbulls at the first opportunity.
I’m musing on this because I was at the vigil last night for Ian Baynham, a homosexual man who died because he had the temerity to stand up to the people who taunted him as he enjoyed a September evening in Trafalgar Square. It was very moving to be among the crowd in the square, witnessing people holding candles aloft in defiance as the two-minute silent was observed at 9pm. Although that night was about the attack on the LGBT community, which is increasing at an alarming rate, it served as a reminder of other communities in danger, including of course the black and Asian communities, along with an increase in religious intolerance. Fear and insecurity is often in the hearts of people who name call and attack those who are not like them. The esteem is low enough for them to use the only weapon they have available which is to pick on whoever they think is weaker so they can feel strong. And of course media outlets with their silly, vicious articles (Jan Moir, anybody?) and slanted reporting of events regarding race (remember hurricane Katrina?), bolster the righteousness of the people who would go out and do these things.
So here’s my message to those people; I couldn’t give a toss if you think what you’re doing is OK, I’m here to tell you it’s not. Here’s what it is, rather than what you’d like it to be. If you go around calling names, it’s a hate crime. If you physically attack, it’s a hate crime. If there’s a death at the end of it, it’s murder. Simples.