Tuesday, September 27, 2011


For those local the current topic is the apparently high-handed manner in which the Cabinet is dealing with the allocation of sites for travellers/gypsies as well as exactly why these are being created in the first place. Sadly as in so much the Contextualization Fairy appears and this becomes an issue of racism and, in the case of some comments, this may be a fair point. What this does demonstrate though is an interesting process.

Group A the majority dislikes/hates Group B. The cause or who's right or wrong is of no consequence at this point simply that this exists and leads to discrimination. Group B find it difficult to be served in some establishments, they may be rejected from jobs and all because of their membership within this group.

However not all of Group A are like this and think it's wrong to discriminate. They either end up in power or gain the ear of those in power and laws are passed to make it illegal to discriminate on the grounds of membership of either or any group.

On the face of it this seems a noble and worthy endeavour however it has certain consequences. Firstly it hasn't changed the fact that some of Group A still dislike/hate Group B it just means they can't be overt in this dislike/hatred; it pushes it underground where it's more difficult to root out.

Secondly it becomes a free-pass to either group when dealing with any other. It's no longer a case that you're not serving me because I'm not wearing a shirt it's because I'm not a member of your group. It's not a case that I didn't get the job because there was a better candidate it's because I'm a member of another group. Now such claims should be taken to court and the frivolous weeded out; except that takes time and money - it's a big hassle. Far simpler just to give in; after all does it matter if they're not wearing a shirt/it's not as if they're much worse than the candidate we were going to hire?

This leads to the third consequence - positive discrimination. This is either through adherence to the 'I don't need the hassle' of the second consequence or some well-meaning legislation on the part of those in power to make-up for the discrimination that was done. However all this does is exasperate both of the previous two consequences. The underground group now has even more reason to hate the minority group and the minority group now has legitimacy/precedent on their side when making complaints.

I'm not saying we shouldn't have anti-discrimination laws or that in some cases there may be a requirement for positive discrimination. What I am saying is it's not racist to ask questions about why such actions exist and to point out any negative consequences.

[update] Due to the continuation of comments at the Shuttle of those who don't quite get what I'm saying I feel the need to add more here. If we again we posit a set of groups again Group A (the haters) and add Group C (those in power) the conversation currently taking place boils down to:

Group A: We don't want members of Group B here because they're Group B.
Group C: The law states we have to accommodate members of Group B because they're Group B

Now those of Group A should be quite rightly castigated for their racist views, but the flaw arises when the subject becomes polarised, or binary. In that instance anyone who criticises the statement by Group C is seen as automatically taking the side of Group A and thus deserving of the same levels of vilification. This is despite the fact that Group C's argument may be seen as being just as racist.]