Our Obsession with Inter-Racial, Inter-Sexuality and Inter-Gender Violence Has Gone Too Far
Society has a problem. Instead of focusing on a general campaign to end all forms of violence, we devote disproportionate attention to violent acts where the victim and (alleged) perpetrator are of a different race, sexual orientation or gender. This is not only ignorant but it actually promotes the circumstances in which forgotten forms of violence occur.
The Politics of Difference - Trayvon Martin
The case of Trayvon Martin's death illustrates the propensity for human beings to latch onto what I call the 'politics of difference'. Rather than waiting for a proper, cool evaluation of the matter, too many individuals and groups, most notably the NAACP, fuelled a fire designed to socially crucify George Zimmerman before he was even investigated, let alone put on trial and convicted.
Facts were distorted. Though Zimmerman appears to have identified as "white Hispanic" at times, one look at his mugshot shows a man who is as likely to be considered "white" in normal parlance as I would be recognised as a Cherokee in Australia. Immediately the case became one of a 'hate crime'. Few terms could evoke such a sinister and mob-like reaction. Ignored was the testimony of one male witness who claimed Trayvon Martin was on top of George Zimmerman and beating him before the former was shot. Emphasised instead was the auditory, not visual, recollections of a woman who claimed to hear a young man's (Trayvon's) screaming.
I am not for one moment saying George Zimmerman did not commit the crime in question (though on a hunch, I'd lean towards the idea he didn't). Yet he should not also be considered guilty before he is able to prove himself innocent. That is not how our system of law works, although unfortunately the media, along with biased organisations and those wanting to score political points, can help successful invert (and bastardise) the process. The trial and courtroom of public opinion frequently convicts, even if the legal authorities do not in the end.
My point is that Trayvon being a black male, coupled with Zimmerman being perceived as a white, created this firestorm. Nonetheless, tonight in the United States, how many more people will be hacked to death by a knife, beaten to a lethal pulp by fists or bleed their insides across the ground from a fatal gunshot wound? The crimes will be black-on-black, white-on-black, white-on-white and every shade in between. Some will be so gruesome they will make Trayvon Martin's death, for lack of a better phrase, look like a children's birthday party.
People are entitled to their opinions. Trayvon's parents can say, though there should be some restrictions for the sake of a fair trial, if they believe Zimmerman murdered their son. So, too, can the NAACP, even if their historical baiting and overreaction-without-an-investigation after these incidents calls into question their integrity and objectiveness. But if we want to focus on this form of violence, hastily surmised as a 'race crime', we should also broaden the picture to, say, black-on-white crime, which is much higher when the more violent categories (serious assaults and beyond) are analysed.
When was the last time we heard about an African-American committing a hate crime against a white American? Statistics regularly show whites are many times more likely to be the victims of black blue-collar crime than vice versa. The black-on-white rape figures, for example, dwarf the white-on-black rape cases by dozens of times.
Let me state emphatically that the vast majority of people from any race are not murderers, rapists or otherwise thugs. But if we want to lambast perceived white racism against blacks, also force society to take a glance at the other side of the coin.
If you were to take the approach of Eric Holder, America's first African-American Federal Attorney-General, when put under Congressional questioning, America's hate crime laws only focus on protecting historically disadvantaged groups, such as African-Americans, Jews, Native Americans and non-heterosexuals. This is despite a Supreme Court ruling casting such a ridiculous interpretation aside.
Regrettably, guilt against George Zimmerman is already cast in stone by those calling for his head, literally and metaphorically. If the Archangel Gabriel came down from Heaven tomorrow and showed the world proof of his innocence, the man would still not be able to live out his days without fear of mass harassment, vigilanteism or even death. Compounding this tragedy is the fact that in this situation we only tend to see whites chased into the doldrums of society for their 'hate'.
Domestic Violence versus Public Violence
Domestic violence, at least in its harshest forms, is clearly something more males than females indulge in. But we forget a) there are also far too many male victims of domestic violence and b) the biggest percentage of violence in this world is public violence between males, often where the victim has done nothing to deserve it. Far from being mutual fights, these are most often cases of one sadistic fool ruining the night - or life - of another man. But we are ashamedly conditioned to think both men are at fault, which is a double standard considering the automatic guilt attributed to men in male-female violence, whether the male is the victim or perpetrator.
As much as this may sound delusional, what I am about to say is completely accurate. Thugs and other lowlifes do adhere to a primitive code of chivalry. When they hit a girl, it is usually with a force they would double, triple or quadruple if they were striking a fellow man. This may sound like a cop-out form of morality and it certainly is; regardless, it proves itself time and again in countless interactions we have in our own lives and see in others.
Look at the case of Chris Brown beating Rihanna. As much as the act was deplorable and the damage to Rihanna's face clearly visible, I can think of 200 cases in public where a male victim preyed upon by a larger, more agile or just less drunk male perpetrator fared ten times worse in the injury stakes. The public outcry ar Chris Brown was beyond justification. Not because the violence itself was excusable, but because the outcry failed to raise awareness of violence in broader society. Sure, different approaches are often needed to combat different forms of violence (domestic abuse, for example). This, however, does not justify drawing an arbitrary distinction between those who encounter violence on the basis they have a vagina or penis!
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson is bigger and stronger than me. If a man of his size and conditioning hit me, I'd want to leave pretty damn fast, not that I'd be given much of a chance after receiving just one of his fists to my temple. Admittedly, Dwayne is reputedly one of the nicest 'tough guys' in Hollywood but let's pretend for a second he turned thug for a day and beat my ass, and then a petite woman in his own home. He's going to hit me harder, that I can guarantee. Even if he didn't, and the woman and I received the same force, why should society cry over the woman and not me? We're both functionally powerless to defend ourselves against a man of such musculature and skill. But society, clinging to outmoded ideas of gender difference, would not give a male victim the time of day.