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Will racism ever end?



  • Registered Users Posts: 6,652 ✭✭✭Tombo2001

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 60,159 Mod ✭✭✭✭Wibbs

    "Race" is extremely dubious a definition alright. Complex populations of peoples with broadly shared genetic heritage over time with some regional overlap fits better, though is a bit of a mouthful. 😁 Those populations would roughly align with the idea of "race", in that broadly speaking modern human populations can be labelled African, Asian or European. Darkness of skin would be a small part of it. The "European" label could apply to North African, Arab and Indian as well as Northern European. There are some indicators even in our bones. For example a pathologist if presented with an African, Asian or European skull would have a fair chance of narrowing down ancestry by that alone.

    Our evolutionary history follows the same basic trends. Africa, that is East and Sub Saharan Africa has the highest genetic diversity on the planet as that's where Modern Humans first evolved, had the largest population and were around for the longest(circa 150-200,000 years), Asia and Europe would have lower diversity, as Modern Humans arrived there much later(circa 70,000 and 40,000 respectively). Two African blokes living a few miles apart could have more genetic diversity going on than a Swede and a Greek, or Korean and Japanese. We see similar in the genes of archaic humans we met(and shagged) along the way. Europeans have Neandertal admixture, Asians have Neandertal(different mix than Europeans) and Denisovan admixture(and possibly Erectus), Africans have neither, though do show evidence of their own ancestors getting jiggy with more local archaic populations.

    'Racism' per se only came into play in the 1700s and 1800s with the onset of the slave trade, where Africans were dehumanised in the same way that Irish were dehumanised, so that the imperial powers of Europe could justify treating them like animals and sending them off on slave ships to America and elsewhere. Race and Racism is an invented concept.

    Not quite and that's a very eurocentric/American viewpoint. As is the modern first thought when the word slavery is mentioned. We pretty much automatically associate that word with the Atlantic slave trade. Slavery has a far longer history and across the world than that horrible time and was just as likely to be Whites or Asians in the mix. In Greece and Rome slavery was part of the social fabric. Their societies couldn't function without the practice. In Rome many doctors were Greek slaves. In Sparta the enslaved Helots outnumbered free Spartans by about five to one. Never mind that in many African societies it was also a fact of life and remains so in a couple. White Europeans arriving to the Slave Coast(Nigeria/Benin/Cameroon) didn't bring something new. Quite the contrary. They were simply new customers for a long established and highly organised business. Even today there are people from that neck of the woods who would have had great grandfathers who were slavers(BBC link to one such I love how she justifies it. No way would she apply the same criteria to a European). The Arab trade in African(and European) slaves was also going long before and long after Europeans were in the mix.

    As for racism itself? Well there has always been a Them Vs Us, belonging, not belonging trait in humanity and from the earliest writings we can see this. If the Other was a different colour, then all the easier to mark them out. Tutankhamun a north African/Southern European had among his funerary goods slippers which had images of Black African(Ethiopians/Kushites) on the soles so he could walk on them with each step. Egyptians knew of and illustrated many different "races" as they saw them and also had the broad notions of African, European and Asian. The Greeks and Romans had their barbarians. Those considered uncivilised, open to subjugation and slavery because they were essentially born to it. Most cultures did and in many ways do and it's why that word and concept has remained intact over the millennia. In many East Asian cultures going back into antiquity pale skin was lauded as a sought out positive over darker skin along class lines, just like it was in Europe. "Blue blooded" comes from the rich not having to toil outside remaining pale so you could see the veins through their alabaster skin. Shakespeare's Othello was written in the first years of the 17th century, before the Atlantic slave trade really took off and illustrates and considers the attitudes to the "Moor"*, the dark of skin, the Other.

    So racism and prejudice towards the Other has always been around. Later European thought added a "scientific" angle to it in the midst of the Enlightenment and after, though there had always been some "explanations" brought to bear on the matter when seeking to excuse and dehumanise the other.

    *Moor generally meant North African/Arab, rather than Black African and there is still debate over what Othello was in period, but he could have been anything non White and it would still make the same points.

    Rejoice in the awareness of feeling stupid, for that’s how you end up learning new things. If you’re not aware you’re stupid, you probably are.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,177 ✭✭✭Fandymo

    There was no defence given by The Dunne, he gave a hypothetical example. How do you prove intent, without getting into someone's head. It's not possible, unless there is evidence of intent. In a one off, random incident, between two parties, there would be literally no evidence of intent. It's Schroedingers intent. So you would be convicting someone on the word of someone else, and nothing else. A very slippery slope.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,825 ✭✭✭RobbieTheRobber

    We already leave the decision on intent in relation to other criminal matters to the courts why is racist abuse any different.

    Why would the courts suddenly not be able to make a decision in relation to intent after hearing both evidence for the prosecution and the defence.

    Is our current justice system flawed in this regard?

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,754 ✭✭✭✭One eyed Jack

    There was? It’s precisely why you asked me would I accept the defence that it was a joke. In the circumstances as described by the OP, it doesn’t appear as though they were sharing a joke with a random stranger, which is the circumstances which the dunne was referring to, and why the dunne suggested that the person could be lying, as if that makes a difference?

    The only person actually tying themselves up in knots is the person offering a defence, and then tanking their own defence! The example the dunne gave was unrelated to the defence they offered for the behaviour of the person as described in the opening post, which is why I said they could offer the defence that they were being threatened with a gun to their head by their granny in the boot, that they would be shot if they didn’t shout racist abuse at a random stranger. The point is we just don’t know. Anything could be offered as a defence, and still nobody has to believe them!

    It’s not Schrodingers intent, Minority Report or slippery slope stuff at all. That’s why the proposed legislation includes the conditions of intentionally or recklessly inciting hatred against individuals or groups. It doesn’t suggest anything about it being unlawful to think thoughts that could be construed as examples of racism. Helen McEntee even makes the point that the intent of the law is communicated clearly to prevent thousands of people who may have taken offence at an Internet post or comment “trying to press charges and going to the Gardaí.” -

    Speaking Thursday at the launch of a report recommending stronger hate speech and hate crime legislation, the Minister said the laws will target people who “intentionally or recklessly” incite hatred against individuals or groups.

    The test for criminal hate speech will be the perpetrator’s intentions, not how the speech was perceived by the victim.

    It is It is important that the intent of the law is communicated clearly to prevent thousands of people who may have taken offence at an internet post or comment “trying to press charges and going to the gardaí,” the Minister said.

    As you quite rightfully suggest, and I’m not sure how this was in any way unclear or misunderstood - evidence of either recklessness or intent would be required in order to determine whether or not a person or people had committed an offence, and under what Acts they COULD potentially face charges. It would depend upon the circumstances in each and every case!

    “Thought crimes” though - not a thing, relax.

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  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    It is as clear as mud jack.

    You can't prove the intent of the example in the OP. (For clarity, I believe the OP and am not doubting them for a second)

    And for the record, you are mixing up two of my posts. I asked Robbie if he considered someone joking with their friend using a bad word that was overheard by a third party and was offended.

    That was my hypothetical question which you answered by showing the proposed legislation. That was grand. End of that discussion regarding the hypothetical scenario.

    After reading the legislation again, I said it boils down to proving the intent to cause "hate" and what constitutes hate.

    I said that in that case, surely a defense for the person in the OP's situation ( a single incident of someone shouting out a window at a stranger) could be that they say that they were joking and no hatred was intended, which would be impossible to disprove.

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 60,159 Mod ✭✭✭✭Wibbs

    "Speaking Thursday at the launch of a report recommending stronger hate speech and hate crime legislation",

    As an aside when did Irish journalist start aping American English? It should be "speaking on Thursday" in this neck of the woods. Then again much of our media and enough Irish people ape 'Murican politics in all her forms too so not such a shock.

    Rejoice in the awareness of feeling stupid, for that’s how you end up learning new things. If you’re not aware you’re stupid, you probably are.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,809 ✭✭✭Hector Savage

  • Registered Users Posts: 21,018 ✭✭✭✭Ash.J.Williams

    it will never stop it can't . scum will always aim as low as possible .Race, sexuality, weight , looks ....all ammunition for idiots with nothing going for them .

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,177 ✭✭✭Fandymo

    You are literally arguing the same thing as me

    "The test for criminal hate speech will be the perpetrator’s intentions" - how do you prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, someone's intent? In the case of the OP, how would intent be proven? You would need witnesses and/or an admission of guilt. Only the person doing the shouting knows their intent!!

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  • Posts: 18,749 ✭✭✭✭ [Deleted User]

    People that commit any crime can come up with any defence.

    Also, there is no such thing in criminal investigations as 'impossible to disprove ' a defence.

    you prove guilt.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,230 ✭✭✭alan partridge aha

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,754 ✭✭✭✭One eyed Jack

    I’m not mixing up your two posts, I’m applying the example you gave of two friends sharing a joke and whether or not that would constitute hate speech, to the circumstances in the opening post, such that the person shouting racist abuse could offer the defence that they were only joking, and then you later suggested that they could be lying.

    Well yes, they could be lying, but since you believe what happened in the opening post, and you have plenty of your own experiences of racist abuse (which I gather you determined they weren’t joking then either), you’re in the fairly admirable position of being able to determine using your own judgement whether or not a person or people had committed an offence in any given circumstances.

    It isn’t impossible to prove a persons intent, or whether they were reckless in any case, and one is not required to be a mind reader to make any determinations based upon the evidence before them. That’s what the evidence is for.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,887 ✭✭✭✭Rothko

    Just for once, I would love to see you respond to someone without twisting their words. Then again, that would mean that you would have to be able to form a coherent argument which you have constantly failed to demonstrate. Oh, well.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    My point is that there is no evidence in the OP's example that would hold up to any investigation.

    Look, we are obviously talking over each other and don't think we will reach an agreement so lets leave it at that.

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,754 ✭✭✭✭One eyed Jack

    Evidence, Fandymo. That’s how you prove either intent or recklessness. The standard of evidence required admittedly increases the more persistent a person is that they are innocent and they intend to make unnecessary work for everyone else.

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,754 ✭✭✭✭One eyed Jack

    We’re not talking over each other at all. You just don’t have a point. You’re struggling to make something out of nothing with trying to offer a defence for the behaviour of the person as described by the OP in the opening post, and then putting forward the idea that the person could be lying, but you believe the OP, and then declaring that there’s no evidence in the OP’s example that would hold up to any investigation, when clearly there is - the account of the victim, whom you believe! That’s a good start to any investigation.

  • Posts: 18,749 ✭✭✭✭ [Deleted User]

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    I'm not making any defence. I simply am pointing out that its impossible to prove the intent in the particular example in the OP because there is no evidence!! That is not defending the behaviour!

    I of course think the person who did the shouting would be lying if he said he was joking but because it would be impossible to prove that he intended to incite hatred in this one off incidence because of zero evidence of his intent other than his recounting of the incident.

    I do believe the account of the victim but according to your own article her testimony would be moot if the other party denied it was hatred because it is only based on intent and "not how the speech was perceived by the victim".

    You may not feel I have a point and fair enough, but please do not make it out that I am defending the behaviour of someone who shouts racist abuse.

    I am just of the opinion that legislation would be useless in situations like this. I am not defending any behaviour.

  • Posts: 18,749 ✭✭✭✭ [Deleted User]

    Many crimes are committed where intent has to be proved.

    Many crimes are committed where it is one persons word against anothers.

    Many of these crimes are successfully prosecuted. So, unless you are an experienced investigator who has investigated the OP fully, then pretty sure you cannot claim that the crime is unprovable

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  • Registered Users Posts: 6,825 ✭✭✭RobbieTheRobber

    One of them would also have to report the other. Otherwise there is no victim. So not very good friends if they share a joke and the other reports them for racist abuse.

    Its a really strange argument against this.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    FFS perry mason. 🤣

    If you think it's in any way possible to prove a random stranger who shouted an insult and drove off had the intent to incite hatred then fill yer boots.

    Unless the OP comes back and says that he has multiple witnesses, the car registration, video footage and an admission of guilt, I am still going to stick with my opinion that the proposed legislation would be of no assistance to the OP's wife in this instance.

  • Posts: 18,749 ✭✭✭✭ [Deleted User]

    Lol, I'm Perry Mason?!

    Says you that wrote off a complaint without even trying to investigate.

    Which is what gardai do when people make a complaint. And yes, many of those things you mention would be involved in the investigation. So, why do you think it couldn't be proven?

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,177 ✭✭✭Fandymo

    Unless there is a recording or a witness, there is no evidence of verbal abuse.

    Words don't hang in the air. So unless someone is an absolute idiot and abuses someone on camera, or around other people, there will be no way to prosecute someone for verbal racist abuse when it is one persons word against another.

  • Posts: 18,749 ✭✭✭✭ [Deleted User]

    Yep, no one ever gets prosecuted when it's one persons word against another's. Never happens.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    My example was two white friends sharing a joke which contained the N word, which was said in earshot of a black person who took offence and felt the slur was directed at him. I wondered what your opinion would be in this hypothetical, would that be racist hate speech?

    But in the meantime, OEJ kindly showed where the legislation would decide that no, it wouldn't be unless the perceived victim could prove the two white men intended to incite hatred.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Have you many examples of people being prosecuted for hate crime based purely on one word against another?

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,825 ✭✭✭RobbieTheRobber

    We are entering philosophical thought experiment territory but instead of

    "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

    It should be replaced by for this thread

    "If a crime is committed and there are no other witnesses is it even a crime?"

    The answer is yes, yes it is still a crime.

  • Posts: 18,749 ✭✭✭✭ [Deleted User]

    Not offhand. But then I don't know every prosecution that has been taken in Ireland.

    Also, as pointed out, by yourself, there maybe more evidence in this particular case.

    for someone that is against racism, you seem to be putting an awful lot of blocks in the way of prosecuting people for it?

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  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 60,159 Mod ✭✭✭✭Wibbs

    Again I think that assuming idiocy in such things is problematic and over simplified and explains things far too easily. Many if not most of the greatest minds in human history have been prone to some "ism" or other, including racism. I'd say racism came second only to sexism. If so called cancel culture were to go down that list to expunge such people there would be remarkably few left on it. Looking over my own life I've met a few people who mightn't have been the sharpest axes in the toolshed but who were anything but racist, and on the other side of that coin some of the most intelligent people I've met were incredibly racist. If were only scumbags and thickos it wouldn't be the problem it is in societies.

    Rejoice in the awareness of feeling stupid, for that’s how you end up learning new things. If you’re not aware you’re stupid, you probably are.