What exactly is considered racist , or hate talk in Canada and is there really anyway to stop it? Is it politically motivated and driven? Can, or is our government doing enough to eradicate it? I ask these questions because I do not think that I have met a truly unprejudiced person, at anytime in my life, anywhere. Most of the people that I have talked to see prejudice as a race issue and so when they claim they are not prejudice they feel that because they do not hate any race of people they can be exempted from being called a racist, prejudiced, or a bigot. For instance when a person states that the Holocaust did not happen is this person really committing a hate crime, or is this person an idiot and ill-informed?
Once we have determined what is prejudice and what constitutes an act of bigotry so bad that it is considered hateful what then are we supposed to do about it? We could send everyone committing such an act to jail, but that seems a little unrealistic and would be very costly. We could post their names and pictures along with their convictions on a web site and in other public places, because usually bigots and racists do not like to be shown for who and what they are. Lately there has been a disturbing amount of bigotry and racial slurs coming from all levels of the Canadian government and from just about every political party and it makes me wonder why there are not specific laws to cover this and specific punishments that are automatically imposed when an officer of the government commits one of these acts.
What of our freedoms then are they all just talk, or is the right to freedom of speech really conditional on it not hurting anyone else and what pray tell does that mean exactly? I ask because when addressing reporters in Montreal a police commissioner actually admitted that his police officers brought their prejudices to the job when dealing with Black people, but he did not think that it made his officers any less professional when fighting crime. When cartoons are offensive in the newspapers and a certain group is being made fun of complains of racism, or bigotry or, hatefulness the papers shoot back with they have the right to freedom of speech and expression and as a rule suffer little by way of sanctions, fines or even governmental slaps on the wrist. In Nova Scotia a white male was fined for burning a cross on the lawn of a black and white couple and although it made headlines for a moment it was treated like an isolated incident, so what was the message to the couple and the rest of the bigots looking to do something outrageous? The only race, or religion to hold the right to have not even the slightest amount of bigotry, hateful expression, or even have a name for the prejudice directed at their race is the Jewish race. In Canada Anti Semitic behavior is the only voiced, or written hatred that could find you in front of a judge and perhaps in jail. Did not an old First Nations Chief find that out when he let his views and thoughts be known about his feelings on the validity of the Holocaust?
What I am getting at is when is it a crime to be a racist and how do we go about stopping it? Is it our right to like and dislike who we want and do we have a right to publicly state our reasons why, or does this constitute racism, hate literature and other such related crimes? I remember going on road trips with white guy who thought that the only prejudice that existed was that between whites and blacks and since we were as close as brothers he was therefore not to be considered prejudice and voiced that thought whenever he got the chance. One time as we were entering Toronto we heard over the CB radio a driver asking for help and I realised that none of the other truckers were answering him, not even my white brother. Now when I started working with him we were often late because if we spotted a trucker in need of help we stopped and helped the best that we could. When I complained I was told that this was part of a truckers code so I did not understand why nobody was helping the driver. I knew the driver asking for help was of East Indian heritage by his accent, but he was a trucker and there was the code, so I asked the driver of my truck what was the problem, or did he not hear the repeated requests for help? He said that he did not help Pakis and that he would not piss on one of them if they were on fire. I was shocked and asked him what his problem was with East Indians and what had they ever done to him to make him hate them so that he would, or could hate a total stranger and cause all truckers to ignore their code to help all truckers in need? He said that they had never done anything to him, but that they were immigrating to Canada and taking over all of the small businesses in Toronto and all points west. When I told him that made him a racist he said that if he was a racist he would hate me too for being Black and all. We debated his hatred for seemingly no reason other than jealousy of East Indians, but to this day I do not think that he got it.
I think that if you are found to be guilty of a non violent race related crime you should be made to volunteer in the community to which you have insulted like doing community service and be forced to learn about those you hate. I think a better idea for non violent offenders would be to force them to take counseling at the same time and find out the real reason that they hate a certain race, or religion so bad that they would want to do them harm. I think that in non violent cases of bigotry, ignorance, peer pressure and even government phobia and fear mongering are the causes of the hate in Canada. I think that people are afraid of what they do not know and that education usually stops the fear and when there is nothing to fear the hackles go down.
A couple who lived in the apartment across the hall to me and my wife are the subject of my next little story. They were older than us, but we often enjoyed a beer on a hot day. On the day we announced our intent to get married and have children, everything changed. They told us that we were being unfair to get married and have children of mixed heritage and how the children of our union would be forever lost, not wanted, or accepted, by the Whites, or the Blacks. They advised us to just stay the way we were and when we decided it was time to marry and have children then they thought it best that we should find someone within our own race. I was shocked by this sentiment and found it hard to be around them after that. They claimed it not to be prejudice, but realistic. They commented on the many pitfalls and challenges that being a mixed couple presented and how love was not the only thing to consider when getting married and having children. The fact is that they thought that we were being selfish. So this is why I say that the nature of the problem of racial bigotry, prejudice and intolerance needs to be addressed with education and counseling.
My last story involves the same wife as I speak of in the story above, the mother of my first child who was as shocked, insulted and hurt by the reaction to our wedding announcement as I was. One day about 6 months into our pregnancy she called me into the bathroom where she was bathing and asked me how dark I thought our baby would be? I asked what difference it would make and she said none. Just as I was leaving the bathroom she said you do not think that the baby will be very Black do you? I looked at her a little shocked by the question and said that the possibility of the baby being dark-skinned was definitely in the cards. As I started to close the door she said,” Honey you don’t think she will be Black, Black do you? Here was a woman who had tons of black friends, had married a black man and was pregnant with their child and was now facing her deep-rooted racial fears. We did not stay married for long after the baby was born. She is presently married to white guy and she never had other children.
I believe that only through making friends out of enemies can we wipe out prejudice. If you put someone in jail for non violent hate related issues like words, or art work, they only get angrier. I believe exposing and making public the actions of these type of offenders goes a long way to helping the problem. I think all levels of government must make it clear what will, or won’t be tolerated in this grey area and the penalties for non compliance. I think also that the governments have to get out of the fear mongering game, they use for political gain. This type of game makes the average citizen feel that they have a patriotic right to make it as tough on some races as possible. The government must lead the fight against racism and not encourage it by its own actions and policies if we are to win this battle and the definition of what is racism must apply to all races the same. We can not raise our children with prejudice and hateful thoughts, make these thoughts part of governmental strategy and policy and then seek to punish and imprison people for acting on what they have been taught since childhood. My mother once told me, ” Son try to make a friend out of an enemy. If you do this your once enemy will forever be your friend. If you do him the same wrong, or worse he will forever be your enemy and the two of you will gain nothing.”
I guess for the time being we will just have to put up with the all-knowing, we can hear only ourselves talking people like Robert Lindsay. He certainly has his views on what he considers the “Black Problem” and is certainly articulate in his presentation, but I do not think he is open to comments that differ too far from his, but I guess he is within his legal rights to think and say what he wants on his blog. I do not think he should go to jail I think he should be forced to do community service in a Black neighborhood untill he at least got a clear image of both sides. I think he would be there for a long time though, he seems quite set in his ways. I am glad to have found him, because he is exactly the type of non violent racist that I am talking about, that needs help not jailing. He does not see himself as a racist though and I quote, “I fashion myself some sort of White Bill Cosby.”
- Halifax police charge teens with hate crimes (ctv.ca)
- Why we must tolerate hate (theglobeandmail.com)
- Discriminating Against Race On Grindr Doesn’t Make You A Racist (queerty.com)
- Let’s Talk About Race Baby: The Rise of the Self Loathing White Person [1/4] (intentious.com)
- Who Are The Real Canadians? What Does that Statement Mean For You And Me (archemdis.wordpress.com)