Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Hate crimes soar after bombings

This headline sounds bad but the article says "most were verbal abuse and minor assaults". So bad names and threats of violence then (if actual violence they would have been batteries not assaults).

That is not to be praised but it's rather provocative to call it "hate crime". "Soar" is pretty loaded language too for an organisation which thinks it's rude to call the London bombers "terrorists".

After 9/11 some panicky passengers on US internal flights refused to sit down and buckle up until Muslim passengers were removed. Was that hate crime? Again, it wasn't nice but it was what Bentham called a case "unmeet for punishment".

it is ludicrous to think that the government can protect you from being called nasty names or having a fist waved in your face. Surely, it has happened to all of us? Various Scots have tried to use "English bastard" as a term of abuse over the years. I am inclined to regard it as a compliment. Certainly that attitude irritates one's assailant most satisfactorily. I was more hurt to be called a "Welsh yuppie" by a sour old fellow-countrywomen. I had just been nice to her, but I was too articulate and insufficiently scruffy to be Welsh, apparently. I think that insulted her kind of Welshman rather more than it insulted me.

I have been called a "fat bastard" on occasion. I find that less complimentary, but feel it reflects worse on the speaker than me. I try to see it as nature's way of reminding me to watch my carbs. I have certainly never felt the need to call a policeman and would expect to be considered rather a wuss if I did.

Is "Paki bastard" or "Muslim bastard" really any worse? Only if you think Pakistani origin or the Muslim faith somehow shameful. I guess it might reasonably irritate a Hindu, but even that faux pas scarcely seems to justify the intervention of the state.

Certainly such behaviour is not polite, but is it surprising that feelings run high and our less intelligent brethren of all races are tending to lose their sang-froid? All on the receiving end of "verbal abuse and minor assaults" might like to begin assimilating to English culture by learning the expression "...sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me..." Given how overstretched the police claim to be at present, they might do well to focus on other issues than soothing the recipients of school yard insults.

BBC NEWS | England | London | Hate crimes soar after bombings

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