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Calling for religious harmony or ecumenism as an attack on all religions, and on secularism too.

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Donald Ian Rankin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 12:12 PM
Original message
Calling for religious harmony or ecumenism as an attack on all religions, and on secularism too.
Edited on Mon Jan-17-11 12:13 PM by Donald Ian Rankin
Laws which prevent "incitement to religious hatred" or similar are as much trying to impose your religious position on other people by force rather than argument as laws mandating or prohibiting a specific religion.




I think that encouraging people with different religious views not to view that as a cause for hostility, and most especially not to resort to violence, is an excellent thing.

But when you go beyond that to suggesting that they should bury or ignore or supress their differences, or that they should stop trying to convince one another that they are wrong, you are essentially saying that questions like "how should I live my life" are not important - essentially, you're doing exactly what you're attacking, by trying to convince everyone else that their views are wrong and a particularly wooly and poorly-thought-through type of agnosticism is right.

Trying to prevent a war of ideas escalating to a shooting war is clearly very desirable. But I have no intention of stopping trying to non-coercively convince people with whose beliefs I disagree that those beliefs are mistaken, and in many cases foolish, harmful, or even actively wicked, and I certainly have no intention of stopping them trying to do the same to me.
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polmaven Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 12:24 PM
Response to Original message
1. Do you not, however,
agree that violent actions based solely on another's religious beliefs are as much hate crimes as are violent actions based on ethnicity, gender or sexuality?
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Donald Ian Rankin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 12:42 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. I don't think that "hate crimes" is a meaningful term.
I think that violent crimes should always be treated seriously; I do not think that there are good reasons to divide them up into "hate crimes" and "non-hate crimes", and it appears that most of the people who want to do so don't have a terribly clear idea of what the distinction is.

One possible definition would be "crimes motivated by the fact that the victim is a member of a demographic group, rather than by something about the victim themself".

But a) I had to supply that definition myself, I haven't heard proponents of hate-crime-specific legislation put it that clearly (which is not, of course, to say that they haven't - I haven't listened to them much), b) I see no reason why "I did it because I hated him personally" should be a mitigating factor in a crime, and c) nearly all the attempts at drafting hate-crime legislation I have seen have been in terms of listing specific motivations, rather than a similar one - e.g. punishing crimes motivated by ethnicity, gender or sexuality but not ones motivated by religion, or vice versa.

The one good that I can see hate-crimes legislation doing is sending a message that the state things that certain forms of prejudice are bad. But I do not think that laws should be drafted to send messages; nothing other than the rights and wrongs of the specific cases tried under them should be considered.

If someone commits a violent crime, punish them for committing a violent crime.



So since you phrased your question in terms of "as much as", I guess technically the answer is "yes"...
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moobu2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 01:12 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Hate crimes are treated differently
than other crimes because the hate crime sends a message to the entire targeted group. Hate crimes can intimidate whole communities, they can cause people to hide and keep a low profile and not participate in the democratic process. Hate crimes are different imo because the hate crime can harm an entire community in very different ways than an ordinary crime can.

later.
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eShirl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 01:45 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. maybe they should be considered terrorism
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Donald Ian Rankin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 02:29 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Not usually, I think,
If an act of violence was committed with the specific intent of intimidating a large number of people for specific political reasons, then possibly. But most "hate crimes" aren't nearly as thought-through as that, I suspect.
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Igel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 02:47 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. I don't think you're clear on your terms.
In your first two sentences you shift meanings rather thoroughly by going from "sends a message to the entire targeted group" to "can intimidate whole communities." These are different things and accounts for a lot of the difficulty in discussing "hate crimes" as a legal category.

"Hate crimes" are those committed out of animus against a protected group. That's all that has to be proven. Some groups have counted more than others, some are accused of being more prone to out-group animus than others.

There's even been cases of "hate crimes" alleged where the perp wasn't provably aware of the victim's status as member of a protected class. Those usually fail. Intent matters. If you uttered a homophobic insult without knowing the guy was homosexual, it matters that the insult is used for people that aren't actually gay.

But in the public discourse and rhetoric about hate crimes intent doesn't matter in the least. That's an entirely different definition of "hate crimes" and one that's extremely pernicious. It interacts with the first, tries to influence it, but doesn't quite succeed in most cases. That people don't keep the distinction clear makes for muddied debate and made for a lot of indignation when an obvious hate-crime perpetrator is "unjustly" not convicted.

In the second definition, "hate crimes" are those that are potentially perceived by a group that the victim belongs to as having a message behind them. Whether a message is "sent" and whether an entire group is "targeted" is immaterial. Both refer to the criminals' intent and goals. The hate in "hate crimes" isn't about the criminal, and it's not really about the victim; it's all about the bystanders, making those not directly involved and potentially of little interest to the criminals the center of attention. "Sent" is entirely in the perceptions of the perceivers; "targeted" is entirely determined by those who see themselves targeted.

In some cases, the victims were targeted because they're members of the group but it's not obvious there was a message apart from "You two there, I want you dead"; in other words, a message was sent and the recipients clearly specified--it wasn't about controlling the victim's future behavior, it was about expressing an opinion or committing an act. In yet other cases, there's a message to the victims to not be "uppity" or that the victims should "mind their place"--clearly intended to intimidate and control future behavior--but it's not evident that the message is actually intended for others of the class that the victims belonged to. In both cases, intent is explicitly irrelevant--it's not the message that's sent, or the intended recipients themselves that matter, it's not even whether or not a protected group was intended as the target. In these cases it's the message that bystanders believe was intended, it's that bystanders think that they were attacked vicariously. People may be dead, maimed, beaten, or otherwise battered or assaulted but the "real" victims are the bystanders.
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Deep13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-19-11 12:47 PM
Response to Reply #1
9. Violence and legal discrimination = bad. ...
Argument and disagreement = good.

I would not oppose a penalty enhancement if an act of violence were motivated by religious hatred.
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Bad Thoughts Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 10:08 AM
Response to Original message
7. Why is agreement necessary?
I have no intention of stopping trying to non-coercively convince people with whose beliefs I disagree that those beliefs are mistaken, and in many cases foolish, harmful, or even actively wicked, and I certainly have no intention of stopping them trying to do the same to me.

It's not clear to me that this form form of consensus is necessary or even desirable to all religious or ideological groups. Certainly there are some religions (or denominations thereof) that emphasize knowing the exact truth. However, for many such aggressive proselytization runs contrary to the values of the religion or ideology.
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Donald Ian Rankin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-19-11 09:34 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. Not necessary, just desirable.
Edited on Wed Jan-19-11 09:36 AM by Donald Ian Rankin
I wouldn't have become a mathematician if I didn't think that more people knowing the right answers to questions, and fewer people believing things that are not true, was desirable.

I wouldn't bother posting on a political website if I didn't think that more people agreeing with me about ethical issues was desirable.

If I thought people agreeing with me was *necessary* I wouldn't have added the "non-coercively" clause; I would try to force people to agree with me rather than just trying to persuade them. A lot of of people do think that other people agreeing with them is necessary; they are among the people I would most like to persuade that they are wrong and I am right.


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Deep13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-19-11 12:48 PM
Response to Original message
10. Agreed.
You can't force people to pretend that their religious views don't contradict other religious views, just like you can't force people to pretend that religious belief is somehow reasonable and valid when it has no factual basis.
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