Monday, October 20, 2008

Why racism should not be a crime

I don't know about you, but when I see someone who clearly isn't disabled parking in disabled spots I tend to ask them why they do it. The last time was when I saw a BMW convertible slide into a disabled spot outside Homebase and two obviously very fit and perky young blondes leaped out without even bothering to open the doors. The car did indeed display a blue badge, but when I asked in what way the young ladies were disabled and therefore entitled to park there I was informed that the car belonged to the father of one of the young ladies.

It wasn't quite as simple as that. My enquiry was along the lines of "Excuse me, but which of you is actually disabled?" and the response was (very loudly) "It's my dad's car so f*** off you old c***" at which point they laughed and flounced off into Homebase. I wasn't surprised by their response and neither am I surprised by this.

On parking on front of the hospital, in a disabled space, she remarked that the large Volvo adjacent did not display a disabled badge. I foolishly indicated to the driver, who was sitting in his car, to lower his window and politely asked him whether he was a disabled person and , if so, why he had not displayed his badge. He replied with a torrent of abuse, which included many applications of the ‘f’ word. I explained that I was a consultant at the hospital and that I thought that his behaviour was very unfair. More applications of the ‘f’ word were delivered and I withdrew indicating that I would inform the hospital security staff, which I did.

Nor am I surprised by the following.

I saw two officers in the waiting room. I thought to myself that perhaps the security chaps had been a bit heavy handed in involving the police. To my amazement the officers were there to arrest me!

I was interviewed on tape (rather a ‘deck’ of several tapes) and explained my version of the events. Prior to this I was informed that the driver of the Volvo ( who I noted had a ‘Mediterranean’ appearance) had accused me of the most insulting racist abuse including recurrent applications of the’f’ word and of calling him a ‘Paki.’

This is the problem, you see, when you make racism a crime. It is, of course, unacceptable, but it is not and should not be a crime. By making it so, the government have ensured that no white person (as this law applies only one way) may ever question the actions or motives of a non-white person. Even if they have independent witnesses who will corroborate their version of events, by the time the police get round to interviewing those witnesses the white person will have been cautioned, arrested, banged up in a cell and interviewed. They will also be swabbed for DNA and the record of all of this will remain on the police computer for 100 years.

We should do all we can to make racism socially unacceptable, but it should never be a crime to voice an opinion no matter how abhorrent that opinion may be.

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