Hate Crime Laws, or… Three Lesbians Walk Into a Bar

Assume these are lesbians. It's not that much of a stretch.

Well, they walked into a T station.  And then beat up a man for being gay.

The women were arraigned today for committing a hate crime, a charge they and their family deny could be possible since all three are out lesbians.

Is your head spinning yet?

Of course it’s not impossible for lesbians to be biased — or hate — gay men (I’ve always found it odd that two groups that could not be more different are yolked together in the fight for gay equality).  Nor is it impossible for Jews to be anti-semitic.  Or for any member of a protected class to have hatred for other members who may not wear their identity differently.

And herein lies a problem with hate crime laws: they lead to a lot of arbitrary, bizarre results because proving motivation is an abstract, subjective thing to do.  And humans don’t readily fit into neat categories.

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Thoughts on Which I Have Lots of Authority to Speak: Marriage Equality in Jerz Edition

The NJ State Senate has passed the marriage equality bill by a vote of 24-10, a gain of TEN yea’s since the 2010 vote (TEN!). It’s going to the Assembly next where it’s likely to pass and then on to the Governor’s desk where it’s likely to be approved quickly because our governor is committed to freedom, equality, respect, and true conservatism.

Just kidding!

It’ll actually be vetoed with aplomb.  But, Governor, as a fan of yours, allow me to remind you why marriage equality is a mark of a real conservative and your approval will only help you in your next race.

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Thoughts on Things On Which I Have Little Authority To Speak: Affirmative Action Edition

I bet you didn’t know you wanted to hear about Affirmative Action today! Well, you did, and I’ve got the perfect blog post.  A plethora of follow-ups, addenda, qualifications, nuances, exceptions, new thoughts, etc. are likely on their way.  

Affirmative action has well-intentioned and even effective underpinnings.  In practice, however, formalized affirmative action lends itself to rigid quotas and uses minority status as a proxy for all kinds of potentially unrelated characteristics.  It’s a huge disservice as it only furthers negative stereotyping, bitterness, and distance between majorities and minorities.

It makes sense to recognize that success and potential success don’t always translate into GPAs and SATs or degrees. That one must take into account the whole person — including background, race, gender, geography, income, family, etc. — when reviewing an application.  And, most importantly, it makes sense to promote and reward and empower people from historically underserved communities.

Because having a role model who looks like you, who talks like you, who comes from where you come from, who has banged up against the same glass ceiling as you did can make or break your own path to achievement.

But when all you are is a minority to a college admissions counselor or an employer, the totality of your experience is lost in the balck-and-white waves, and your success or failure becomes a metaphor for the success or failure of those you represent. U of Mich philosophy professor Carl Cohen:

Preferences…“do serious, long-lasting injury to the minorities concerned. Terrible damage,” said Cohen. “It raises questions about their competency for their whole lifetimes. It reinforces outrageous racial stereotypes.” If those admitted with lower academic qualifications turn out to do less well, “racists will say, ‘We told you so,’” he predicted.

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