Racism victim, Asian, must appear in court. Racist aggressor, white, not charged.

In Asian Teen in Keswick Fights Back Against Racist Bully, Maysie predicted:

And finally, here are my dumbass predictions of the future:

1. The white racist bully will not be criminally charged

2. The charges will not be dropped against the young man

York school board stands down, reinstates bullied student (Globe and Mail, May 4, 2009):

The 15-year-old will return to Keswick High School this morning with the suspension removed from his academic record and his upcoming expulsion hearing cancelled, the boy’s father said Monday.

The turnabout began Monday when the student and his parents were invited to a hastily convened reconciliation session with his antagonist and that boy’s parents. At that meeting, the white student apologized for directing a racial slur at the 15-year-old and for punching him in the mouth. The 15-year-old apologized for breaking his classmate’s nose.

[…]

The boy still faces a charge of assault causing bodily harm even though his opponent’s parents have twice called York Regional Police asking that the charges be dropped. Mr. Koven said once charges have been laid, however, it’s up to the Crown to determine whether to proceed or not, which probably won’t be decided until a first court appearance on May 13.

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Considering intent to evaluate morality is an ancient Western tradition.

Contemporary Western intellectuals embrace secularism as ‘modern’, and they often perceive Eastern and African cultures as ‘traditional’ cultures that are steeped in ancient religious practices.

Many Westerners even describe Japan, an arguably more technologically advanced nation, as an interesting blend of the very old with the very new. A white man told me that he visited Japan to meet the parents of his Japanese wife. He said that Japan’s technology makes Canada look like a developing country. However, he insisted that Japan’s culture is very ancient in addition to being futuristic, because ancient cultural beliefs and practices are still part of contemporary Japanese culture.

I found it odd that Western culture is rarely perceived as ancient, even though so many of our beliefs and practices can be traced back to ancient traditions. It is difficult to look at Western culture directly, when we are so accustomed to looking through Western cultural frameworks.

An example of an ancient Western cultural artifact is the Christian tradition of considering intention when judging the morality of an action. This Christian concept is institutionalized in our legal systems as mens rea. For a very recent example of factoring in intent, Clay Shirky claimed that the filtering out of LGBT books from Amazon.com was only a “perceived injustice” and an “injustice that didn’t actually occur” since the delisting was done unintentionally.*

The overemphasis on intent is so pervasive that the effects of an entity’s actions is now considered less important or even unimportant. Furthermore, a culture that trivializes the importance of effect encourages people in power to prioritize image management over correcting bad behaviour. If intent is more important than action and effect, then showing that you had good intentions absolves you from your bad behaviour and your responsibility to correct your behaviour.


Related articles:


* For the record, I was unaware of the #amazonfail twitterstorm until I read Shirky’s article, as I had Internet troubles during that time. Although he makes a good point about people’s tendency to rationalize their actions, because I wasn’t involved, I have no emotional investment in maintaining that an injustice did occur.

When Muslims cry “freedom of speech!” … opponents cry “freedom of speech!”

Four Muslim, law students from Osgoode Hall Law School at Toronto’s York University filed a Human Rights Complaint against Canada’s Maclean’s magazine on December 4th, 2007. In a Maclean’s article titled “The future belongs to Islam” published in October 2006, Mark Steyn had argued that Muslims will eventually take over the Western world. The Osgoode law students, on March 30, 2007, had asked Maclean’s to “publish a response to Steyn’s article from a mutually acceptable source.” Maclean’s refused, allegedly claiming that they “would rather go bankrupt,” which resulted in the law students filing the Human Rights Complaint.

Here is an interview with one of the law students, Khurrum Awan:

When the interviewer asks Khurrum how to strike a balance between human rights and free speech rights, the Osgoode law student responds:

I don’t think that this issue is about freedom of speech versus minority rights. This is really about the right of communities to participate in our national discourse on issues that relate directly to us. […] We just simply want to extend free speech to make it more inclusive of the communities in question. And if we do that, we don’t have to, you know, get into this false trade-off that we always assume that somehow free speech and minority rights — or free speech and multiculturalism — are somehow diametrically opposed.

What is ironic is that while many of the critics of the Osgoode law students criticize them for suppressing freedom of speech, the Osgoode law students claim that they are filing the Human Rights Complaint on behalf of freedom of speech (i.e., the right to publish a counter article in Maclean’s). While many critics accuse the Osgoode law students of censorship, the Osgoode law students feel that they themselves are being censored.

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