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Perceiving Hate

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Apparently, according to the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service, a hate crime is "any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice, based on a person's disability or perceived disability; race or perceived race; or religion or perceived religion; or sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation or transgender identity or perceived transgender identity".

Of course, we must remember that in the UK at least, we operate to the spirit of the law and not merely the written word. We also have to interpret law in a way that is reasonable to a general, indifferent and rational member of the public thus eliminating as much bias as possible.

Using these ideas, it ought to be straightforward to identify a hate crime through perceiving motives based on hostility and prejudice. Most of the time this is reasonable. We can identify hatred through the visceral reactions of those who meet the object of their hatred. We hear name-calling, see houses covered in graffiti, businesses set alight - all because of an unreasoned hatred of people whose skin has a hue that is darker than pale or whose voice contains an accent that does not originate from these isles.

We have to understand that hatred of people is always unreasoned, or at least poorly reasoned. In Psalm cxxxix, after proclaiming the utter transcendence of God coming into contact with little humanity, the Psalmist shockingly cries upon God to slay the wicked whom he hates right sore. This might suggest that we must necessarily hate wicked people whom we them should go out and eradicate in some kind of Biblical extermination. But that is not the way forward. We need to read the psalm carefully.

 19 Wilt thou not slay the wicked, O God? Depart from me, ye blood-thirsty men.
 20 For they speak unrighteously against thee, and thine enemies take thy name in vain.
 21 Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?
 22 I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.

Who is to slay the wicked? The Psalmist recognises that the prerogative to slay the wicked is God alone, not him. It's as if he knows that he is incompetent to judge what is wicked. Clearly, he knows that Evil exists and he hates it because where Evil is, God is not. Of course, the Old Testament is filled with instances of men and women being the instruments of God's judgement and slaying wicked folk like Eglon, Sisera, Haman and Jezebel. Even then, we cannot possibly comment with any certainty on their Eternal condition because that decision lies with the Almighty. Death is not a barrier for God's judgement. However, Death is no barrier for God's mercy nor for His Love.

The Psalmist wants the end of Evil and the cause of Evil. I would have thought that this would be common to every human being, really. We should not tolerate Evil in any form. However while human beings possess the faculty to tell Good from Evil, they have the tendency to allow this faculty to be corrupted by their desire to define what is Good and Evil based on their their false perceptions. This perception is now critical when it comes to defining what a hate crime is.

Of course, an accusation of hate crime needs to take into account three perceptions:

The perception of the accused as to the alleged hated characteristic of the victim;

The perception of the alleged victim as to whether the action of the accused arises from hatred;

The perception of the indifferent observer as to whether the perceptions of those involved are reasonable and accurate.

For example, in Ruritania, extending a hand has long been associated with stabbing someone and is thus a gross insult communicating the message "I wish you were dead!". On a state visit to Ruritania, Donald Trump offers his hand to the Grand Duchess for a handshake. Has a hate crime been committed?

You can see the headlines, can't you?

Trump declares war on Ruritania! 
Trump calls fake news on reports of insult to Ruritanian Royals 
Trump gaffe cools Ruritanian relations 
Archaic Etiquette to blame for Ruritanian crisis

Is there a hate crime? Surely there are lots of different perceptions here. The only thing that is objective is that Trump extended his hand to the Grand Duchess. What needs to follow is not a frenzy of media speculation muddying the waters and thus muddying the eyes of perception, but rather an immediate clearing of the air and a search for mutual understanding.

If Trump intended a friendly gesture which, to be honest, comes quite naturally in the West, then the perception of hatred is quite unfounded. However, how do we know what is truly intended? Actions speak louder than words, don't they?

The  foundation of Western justice is the assumption that we are innocent until proven guilty. It's an extension of the principle of Charity in which we assume the best of our brothers and sisters until they demonstrate otherwise, and even then beyond reasonable doubt. This is a Christian principle in which we afford in our neighbours the same generosity that we would wish for ourselves. Of course, in this age we tend to divorce the second commandment "love thy neighbour as thyself" from the first, "thou shalt love the Lord thy God." The second commandment is not something we can base our morality on alone because we can choose not only how to love, but also what "love" means.

In the Ruritanian Crisis above, the principle of Charity allows us to defuse a situation.

Yet, we know full well that this is not going to be allowed to happen. Instead, Trump will be tried by media, like Boris Johnson, Sir Cliff Richard and Bishop George Bell rather than in the proper places of the law courts and debating chambers of informed and unbiased democracy.

Of course, the public need to be kept informed and allowed to cultivate an opinion. What seems to be happening, though is that these opinions are being founded on sensationalism and popularity rather than by reason, careful consideration, and awareness of our own tendencies to confirmation bias. It is this process that needs to be taught carefully.

As a Christian, I am accused of hating Science. As a Catholic, I am accused of worshipping Mary. As a non-Roman Catholic, I am accused of not having valid orders. As an Anglican Catholic, I am accused of hating women priests, homosexual peopke and transgender folk. All of these are false assumptions that will colour people's perceptions of me.

I cannot and will not marry two people of the same sex, not because I am homophobic but rather because I believe that to do so would not be an act of love to them from me, but rather a means of pushing them away from God by giving affirmation to what is not possible and not what God wants. In not marrying such a couple, I am offering them an opportunity to see things as I believe God would have them. I am willing their good by offering them something better than the world can give. By accepting same-sex marriage, they are settling for second best which is just not good enough when the best is within reach.

Is this prejudice on my part? Given that I have reached my position through careful thought and prayer, I don't really see how I can be charged. My belief in God and my desire to worship Him necessitates my obedience to what He says is Good and Evil because Good and Evil have their definition in relation to His character. He ordains marriage between men and women as a place of protection as a family.

Likewise, I believe it to be an act of love to regard someone as they are rather than who they define themselves to be. Self-definition is an isolation from others through a restriction and control of language and communication. I don't accept that changing one's gender changes one's sex because I believe that, in rejecting God's creative capacity, one is swallowing a lie to the detriment of the good of all humanity.

I am a Christian which means that I believe it to be an issue of Eternal salvation to hold fast to Our Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God than accepting the prophecies of Mohammed. In so doing, I regard the Q'ran as being deficient in the truth and thus deceptive. Since I want everyone to be saved from Hell regardless as to who they are, I see it as a gross error of judgement to allow a deficient text to be read in Church.

Now I have said this, Society would accuse me of hate crimes on the grounds of homophobia, transphobia and islamophobia despite the fact that I hold my positions through a genuine regard for each human being on a level deeper than physical appearances and social constructions. This is because the idea of what is a reasonable perception in the definition of Hate Crime is being altered by social and political influence and is thus skewed away from seeing Good and Evil as being qualities that transcend any society.

I am not perfect and I have my biases as does everyone else. I do try to love my neighbour as myself, but I know that I fail. I pray to God that this failure is due to weakness and not malice. If it is the latter, may God show me and correct me accordingly. If I am weak, then I pray for strength in future. If I am to be judged hateful by Society on purely human understandings of Love, Hate, Good and Evil, then I must bear that judgement all the while praying for the Day of Judgement to put all things right.

In turn, I pray and urge everyone to seek the truth with reason and charity so that true hatred may be revealed and put away and that true Love may abound.

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