Friday, August 05, 2005

Discrimination: the costs to society

This is in response to the article "When discrimination is right"

Where do I start?

I can write a thesis on this but ultimately we all know what we want to think and what we don’t want to hear.

I will start by stating the obvious – discrimination exists in all its forms (mild and extreme):
1. One colour against another,
2. One sex against another,
3. One tribe against another,
4. One region against another,
5. One religion against another,

The single most consistent point that precipitates from all the above forms of discrimination is that people prefer to ignore it/pretend it doesn’t exist/justify it, everything but admit it’s wrong and then subsequently proceed to help curb it.

For instance, some might argue that women these days are paid the same as their male counterparts doing the same job or that "minorities" in any given context are paid the same as the "majority" doing the same jobs. Some people even want to justify racial profiling . To these proponents I say read the numerous credible surveys/studies (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and stop talking rubbish.

Call a spade a spade:

Life would be far easier if people just stopped pretending! Why do I say this? Because in doing so, you fool nobody but yourself. Those you are discriminating against "feel" the undercurrent* of your discrimination, though they may never be able to prove it. So, if the perpetrators of discrimination know they are engaging in it and the "receivers" of discrimination know they are receiving, then what is the pretence about?

I have far more respect from the onset for people that not only
speak their minds (because apparently even cowards speak their minds) but also and more importantly back their opinions with valid evidence.

The problem is that discrimination can never be validated, on whatever grounds. Anyhow you dissect it, it leaves a heap of collateral damage, a vast group of innocent people who were not the precise/intended target but because of the representative heuristic, they get marginalised, maltreated and left feeling dehumanised.

Principally, what happens when people discriminate in society is that relations become irreconcilable and respect is lost. There is too much downside risk, no medium to long-term benefits. However, in the short-term, the perpetrators may feel a sense of accomplishment.

So to answer all those who spend time splitting hairs on issues that are quite obvious, discrimination is wrong full stop. All that gibberish that follows on about how it can be right is just undercurrent* that finally found an outlet. Plain and simple; you've been told!

Ask yourself, why capitalise on an incident to channel your undercurrent*? The answer maybe that before the incident, you may have felt wrong to think a certain way, maybe even guilty. But, once you realise that you are not alone in feeling that way, it is easier to voice your opinion under the guise of collective opinion. This is a coward's stance that warrants no respect. You want to be in a crowd shouting "stone them" when you can't do it on your own; just voices, no faces.

Discrimination is most effective when the "majority" or those in power find a channel for a common, collective undercurrent* and use it. This is why those that are the minority need correct legislation as their insurance that undercurrent* will not become mainstream life. Let’s not dismiss this, I submit to you that apartheid existed in South Africa for many years because the undercurrent* of those in power became mainstream life until the victims decided to claim social justice, even at the cost of mass loss of life. In fact, some of the offenses committed by those in power were inhumane (man fed to lion). Correct legislation is unquestionably the only form of insurance for the real potential victims of discrimination.

Above all, discrimination makes the victims feel dehumanised and no monetary premium can be worthwhile recompense for that feeling.

It is easy for the majority or those in power to maltreat the minority or those without authority, too easy. But, just because real discrimination has never/is not/will never be a real issue at your doorstep (all else constant, e.g.: where you reside) doesn't mean that you need be a perpetrator because even in the collective act of discimination, all those involved make personal decisions.

So before we air our views regarding an issue such as discrimination, we should ask ourselves:

  1. Have we been a victim of it?
  2. Do we personally know somebody that has been a victim of it?

The short answer is that if we can't answer yes to the above two questions, then we don't deserve to give our twopence. For some opinions in life, one has to walk in the shoes. There is no point in casting our inexperienced views - a bit like recommending medication without medical training.

If you ever get discriminated against in a real sense, you will know about it and it will cost you sleep.

* Undercurrent : Pent-up emotions/predisposition from personal biases channeled through any opportunity (however unrelated) but at the required/desired target. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


Anonymous mshairi said...

How do the Police know without asking whether the young Asian man they have stopped is Muslim? They stop and harass as many Asian looking men they can. How can this be right?

Your posts are very good and thought-provoking

Friday, September 23, 2005 12:59:00 pm  

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