Real hate of course stinks. Real bullying also stinks. We have heaps of both, and they are to be resisted and challenged. But the problem is, we can go to unhelpful extremes in combating such things. Indeed, we can go overboard, and destroy basic freedoms in the name of a good cause.
All over the West we have quite unhelpful and even harmful legislation known as hate crime laws. Many of them are ostensibly to stamp out bullying, and much of it is fomented by the homosexual activists. But all that such laws tend to do is harm freedom of speech and enforce by state power political correctness.
I have discussed this at length elsewhere, eg:
But I wish to speak to this a bit further, in light of a new call for hate crime laws. Often it is the case that some tragic case of bullying results in calls for more such laws to go into effect. And when a tragic suicide occurs, then it is even more of an emotive appeal.
Consider the case of a UK girl who killed herself because of her red hair. Now her dad wants to make red hair jokes a hate crime – really. One news story goes like this: “The father of a girl found dead after being bullied over her red hair has called for ginger jokes to be made a hate crime. Enda Farrell, 56, said he believed his daughter Helena, 15, might still be alive had she not been picked on because of her hair colour.
“The teenager was found dead in woodland half a mile away from her home in Kendal, Cumbria, in January. The cause of her death has not yet been officially established, but yesterday her father said he believes Helena killed herself. Mr Farrell, a former town councillor, said she had been tormented all her life by bullies’ taunts about her ginger hair.
“He called for a change in the law to make it illegal to discriminate against people because of their hair colour. ‘People need to realise that when they say the things they do, it can have deeply traumatising effects and can lead to self-harm and suicide,’ he said. ‘Helena’s death was not just because of it but the bullying she faced all her life certainly contributed’.”
Now as I said, bullying is just not on, and suicide is always a tragic outcome, regardless of the causes. But we live in an age in which we want to turn everything into a legal issue, and make every type of behaviour punishable by the law.
That is certainly a dangerous direction to be moving in. We of course already have laws on the books to deal with basic criminal behaviours. But hate crime laws tend to stifle freedom of speech, and turn people into even worse criminals because of supposed intentions or motivations.
And the simple truth is, almost everyone is bullied at least sometime, and for a whole host of reasons. I certainly was bullied at various times while growing up. I got my fair share of it at school. And even now I can still be bullied for various reasons. In one sense this is just a part of life.
We need to deal with it and move on. Sure, serious and sustained bullying must be thwarted where and when possible. But taking every conceivable reason for bullying and teasing (such as red hair) and turning it into some sort of crime is really going over the top.
As I say, probably everyone has experienced bullying. At my schools when I was a child, there were plenty of candidates: if you were tall, or short, or poor, or rich, or fat, or skinny, and so on. Of course if you were ugly that could be bad news, but in fact, I knew of good looking people who were bullied as well – and basically because of their good looks.
I can even remember one gal – I think her name was Kathy Weber (I don’t think she will be reading this!). She was an attractive blond for a young kid – dunno, we might be talking second or third grade here. Because she was cute, as well as a bit polished and higher class than many of us, and also somewhat of a new student, she too was often criticised or teased or made fun of.
So there you go, even those who seem to have it all – looks, glamour, prestige, etc – can still be targeted. So should we ban all jokes about blondes? Should we make it illegal for folks to poke fun at rich kids, or pimpled kids, or skinny adults, or gawky teens, or overweight spinsters, or red-headed truck drivers?
The list is endless of course, and adding a thousand new laws to the books does not seem to be the way to proceed here. Again, all teasing and bullying is unpleasant and wrong, and some of it is quite dangerous and nasty. And no suicide can ever be taken lightly.
So we understand the father’s grief, but his calls for yet more laws is missing the mark. We are well on the way to making everything illegal. It is time to stop and reassess. Societies burdened down with a plethora of laws quickly move from being soft tyrannies to hard tyrannies.
We may already be too far gone in this regard. We dare not go any further.