Thursday, July 9, 2009

Victim-Blaming: Hate Crimes Edition (featuring special guests Camille Paglia and Eric Cartman)

I used to be against hate crime legislation, when I was a teenage feminist. Mainly because of a South Park episode I saw:

The gist of the episode is "Every crime is a hate crime! Why punish them more because the victim of their crime just happens?" The episode is a perfect example of how Trey & Matt use characters who are members of oppressed classes to justify the enaction of some ism. The father of their only regular black character other than Chef, "Token", expresses the belief above, thus making Cartman, who's a straight-up sociopath, blameless.

(Moral of the story: South Park's great, but not exactly a font of feminist wisdom. Duh, I know.)

South Park doesn't have a clear understanding of how a hate crime is classified - not because the victim is a member of a protected class, but because the crime was motivated by the victim's belonging to that class. Basically, it's in cases where the victim's race is clearly not a coincidence - it's the basis for the crime.

I was also against, like, affirmative action (mainly because a good friend, a feminist told me it wasn't right). Clearly I didn't have a great understanding of the structures in society that make feminism and womanism and anti-racism necessary. Accordingly, I was over those opinions by the end of first semester freshman year.

Anyway! Via Jesse at pandagon comes evidence that Camille Paglia doesn't exactly get this. In the context of talking about hate crimes, she wrote:
Only a week before, Shepard had expressed fears about being killed. Given that apprehension, it is still inexplicable—if the case is examined only through a political lens—why Shepard would leave a public place in the company of such blatant thugs. A hate crimes law that claims to be able to penetrate the mind of the perpetrator should be equally open to questions about the victim. If, out of fairness or pity, one avenue of inquiry is shut down, then the other must be too.
Oh yes. Let's blame the victim, shall we? Let's figure out how victims of violent heinous crimes made themselves vulnerable, and make that a mitigating factor in the people who killed them willfully and with hate in their heart for an entire group of people. It's not their fault that their victim, you know, existed as an oppressed body while being in their lives. Or, you know, crossing the street near them.

Also, out of fairness and pity to folks accused of rape, let's take into consideration the shortness of the victim's skirt, or the amount of booze they had. It's not their fault that their vadge was just right there for the taking! How could any red-blooded American man resist a woman who was passed out? We've really got to be fair to them, after all. It's not like rapists get a fair shake, ever.

Camille Paglia May Be A Really Horrible Person, By Which I Mean She Is


  1. Great post. People like Camille Pagila (does that name rhyme, by the way?) don't understand that the reason to categorize something as a *hate* crime instead of just any old crime, is that *hate* crimes by their very definition don't just punish the victim of the crime, but produce an atmosphere of fear for the entire community to which the victim belonged (gay, minority, whatever).

  2. i look back on my teenage self with a sort of self-loathing, and relief that it's past. i was certainly ignorant of a lot of issues then.

    but yeah, good old victim blaming. because we're not immersed in that in our culture as it is, let's legitimize it with laws!


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