Something to Ponder on A Sunday in May
“It kind of comes down to what one is doing at the moment. That is why the concept of racist is not as reliable as racism. When it comes to the action/ISM, it is the conduct that matters. When it comes to the individual, it is the human that matters.”
——Bitey, in a comment at: https://bindlesnitch.com/youre-a-racist-if/
The suffix “Ism” means adherence or the following of an ideology, while the suffix “Ist” indicates a person involved in a certain activity, field or mindset.
So, here’s my question:
In the fight and struggle for human decency, human rights, civil rights, and social justice, should we distinguish and separate the racist from his/her racism?:
05/07/2023 @ 8:16 am
I’m so glad you asked. I feel like I have over contributed.
My view is that a focus on the racist is not helpful. As long as it is derogatory, being a ‘racist’ will almost always be denied, and any point of confrontation becomes stuck in the mud. First of all, a personal characteristic can easily be denied, even to oneself, since it exists within the mind. Secondly, that particular characteristic is entirely legal. There is nothing that can be done about what one feels, nor should there be…as it applies to public business.
Conversely, racism requires conduct. Conduct in public, or crossing areas which are public, are public business and can be regulated as such. Who is or is not a racist is always going to be private business. It is fruitless to make the accusation. Racism, however, is everyone’s business.
A more careful reading of your question brought the following clarification of my response. “Should we separate the racist from his racism…?”
That is the focus on the racist. We should forget about the racist altogether and focus only on the conduct. Regulate the conduct. When the conduct arises, address the conduct, not the existence of the perpetrator. If someone breaks a window, and we want to address the crime, we would not say, you’re a vandal, you’re a vandal. We would say, that is vandalism, and vandalism is a crime. The public response is focused on penalizing the act rather than the philosophical predisposition for the act.
05/07/2023 @ 12:40 pm
“I feel like I have over contributed.”
There’s no such animal!
05/08/2023 @ 9:02 am
“We would say, that is vandalism, and vandalism is a crime. The public response is focused on penalizing the act rather than the philosophical predisposition for the act.”
“The suffix “Ism” means adherence or the following of an ideology, while the suffix “Ist” indicates a person involved in a certain activity, field or mindset.”
If you can accept the definitions given here re the suffixes ‘ism’ and ‘ist’, your construction misses the mark, e.g. racism as a belief/thought is not a crime in and of itself unless it is overtly expressed during the course of committing a felonious criminal offense such as a felonious assault which becomes a ‘hate crime’ in jurisdictions where racism is openly or overtly expressed or manifested while the crime is being committed.
When a prosecutor goes after a criminal defendant charged with a ‘hate crime’, he/she is most assuredly is saying to the perpetrator(s), “you’re a racist” and declaring the same to the court.
It is in this regard that the intangible underlying (racist) motive for the
criminal behavior(couched in racism) becomes a required element of the prosecutor’s case, i.e. CRIMINAL INTENT…
05/08/2023 @ 11:24 am
Sorry, Ron. You have that wrong. When a prosecutor goes after a perpetrator of a hate crime, the prosecutor prosecutes the action. A perpetrator is someone who “carries out a harmful or immoral act.” There are no thought crimes. Hate crimes are separate from other crimes, not from other thoughts or feelings. A crime requires means, motive and opportunity. Motive and means may be present, but without opportunity, there is no crime. As an example, I may want to physically assault someone, but if I am standing across the street, and I swing my fist as hard as I can in the direction of my target, that is not a crime. Motive may be present, but the means and opportunity are not. I would have to be within striking distance. Hate and racism are not crimes. Racial hatred motivating other criminal acts can be a hate crime.
05/08/2023 @ 3:08 pm
My last sentence draws the distinction between ‘hate crime’ and crime. (I understand it quite clearly.) I said hate is legal…and it is. The thought and the feeling are legal. “…while the crime is being committed…” is a partial quote of your statement. This is the essential part. Hate can exist without crimes. It is a hate crime when it is “expressed while…”. Exactly that.
This is contextually significant because of your previous title, “You’re a racist if…” Your title implies that one achieves a certain distinction, indistinguishable from one who does/acts in ways which are only connected philosophically. This is wrong in American law for a variety of reasons. First of all, thoughts and feelings are free from legal consequence unless they are combined with illegal acts. The reason why someone did something is significant…as long as that someone did something. Without the act, it is not a crime. Secondly, “if one seeks common ground with…”, (you know the portion I am referring to), is a violation of the concept of freedom of association. Guilt is not conveyed by association. Guilt requires action. (Or failure to do some required action.)
05/08/2023 @ 4:20 pm
Addressing the diagram you posted showing a relationship between thoughts, behaviors and feelings, the diagram is not helpful. Your statement with the diagram implies that the relationship is causal. It isn’t. It only shows a relationship. The point remains that having the thought does not make the action by necessity. The thoughts, feelings, and actions can all exist independently. We all already know that the three categories of things exists. We also know they can be related. To support your point, you need to show causality. Not only does it not do that, it also does not say which happens first.
05/08/2023 @ 12:30 pm
“Racial hatred motivating other criminal acts can be a hate crime.”
“…racism as a belief/thought is not a crime in and of itself unless it is overtly expressed during the course of committing a felonious criminal offense such as a felonious assault which becomes a ‘hate crime’ in jurisdictions where “…racism is openly or overtly expressed or manifested while the crime is being committed….”
What part of this don’t you understand?
You want to disagree but your last sentence suggests otherwise…
“It is in this regard that the intangible underlying (racist) motive for the
criminal behavior(couched in racism) becomes a required ELEMENT of the prosecutor’s case (not the ENTIRE case), i.e. CRIMINAL INTENT…(to commit a crime predicated on racism or racist thoughts and beliefs…)
If you stand on the assertion in your last sentence, we’re in agreement!
05/08/2023 @ 3:25 pm
Your capitalized words only highlight what you are not understanding. “Criminal intent” is not a crime…without the act, not even when they are capitalized.
“Elements” of a crime are not crimes in and of themselves, not even when they are capitalized. They are merely how we understand/contextualize a criminal act. Assault with a deadly weapon is a crime. “Deadly weapon” is an essential element of that particular crime. The deadly weapon in and of itself is not a crime. Often they are not even illegal items. A tire iron can be used for ADW. I tire iron in the trunk, on a table, or in the hand, is not a crime. The elements have to be combined with an action, or a failure to perform a required action. Elements in and of themselves are not crimes…they are how we understand the action.
Drinking alcohol is not a crime. Being inebriated is not a crime. Doing so while in public, or while operating machinery is illegal. Combined, they can be elements of many crimes. As elements without action, they are not.
05/08/2023 @ 4:44 pm
A prosecutor must establish and ‘prove’ each ‘element’ of a crime ostensibly, beyond a reasonable doubt.
Otherwise, she/he is likely to bargain down to a lesser offense that doesn’t include the unprovable element…
So that we’re clear; an ‘element’ of a. criminal offense is, indeed, the ‘action’ you speak of…
Re the diagram, it’s circuitous. It’s there only to show that a relationship exists…
It doesn’t matter where you begin…
05/08/2023 @ 6:06 pm
No, Ron, it is not the action that I speak of. You could, or should, read it again. I referred to illegal acts which become qualified by other elements. Some are motivations. Motivations are not actions.
And secondly, the order of the actions most certainly is relevant. It is intuitive that those things are related. That is not in dispute. But, for one thing to elevate a certain type of crime to a higher crime, it must be present before or during. A thought or feeling can not occur after a criminal act and have bearing on the criminality, as it would in the ‘hate crime’ context. You placed “criminal intent” in capitals. Intent can’t arise after the action. Intent has to precede the action, or it is not intent. The diagram was used in that context. Furthermore, a relationship does not mean it is causal. Your theory, in context, is that racist thoughts and feelings cause racist actions. That is not true by necessity.
05/08/2023 @ 11:35 pm
‘Intent’ is that intangible element of a crime that is often most difficult to prove…
Burglary is classically defined in Common Law as:
“The breaking and entering the dwelling house of another in the nighttime, with the intent to commit a felony therein.”
Burglary, at Common Law, was the trespassory breaking and entering of the dwelling of another at night with an intent to commit a felony therein.
It is an offense against possession and habitation. The common-law elements of the offense have been modified in most jurisdictions by statutes that tend to make the crime less restrictive.
Each element contained in the definition of the crime had to be proven against the defendant in order to satisfy the requirements for a verdict of ‘guilty’
When taken separately and independently, the elements are not crimes in and of themselves…
As a separate matter:
The diagram illustrates the relationships between thoughts feelings and behaviors. It is admittedly circuitous and has no real legal value or meaning other than to generate discourse on the rhetorical questions/ issues raised here…
05/12/2023 @ 10:08 am
I don’t think we’re distinguishing feelings from intentions well enough here. Feelings aren’t relevant but intentions are. Maybe I should back up a step further: I don’t think we’re distinguishing feelings from motivations. Motivation is when feelings become causal.
05/12/2023 @ 1:09 pm
Motivations and intentions matter, but only when they are connected to actions. The crime does not have to be completed to be illegal. It only needs an attempt, but an attempt is action.
05/12/2023 @ 1:14 pm
I agree with that completely, from both a moral standpoint and, oddly enough, in my case from a religious standpoint.
That a crime does not have to be completed to be a crime is something I’ve pointed out repeatedly elsewhere in conversations about rockets coming out of Gaza aimed at civilians. Whether or not those rockets hit any, they constitute attempted murders.