Peace in a World of Minorities
A 15 year old has been found guilty of murdering a Goth Woman. What is highly significant is that the judge has acknowledged that her identity as a Goth was central to the crime. In a world of diverse identities, it is sadly no surprise that this should happen, nor that many people find this difficult to understand.What if we change some key details in the crime. It seems quite an overused way of looking at things, but I feel this might be worth investigating. Had the woman been black, there would have been a great deal bigger outcry; ‘racism!’ would be shouted from all corners, and rightly so. Had she been a lesbian, there’d have been a little less protest. Had she been trans, I suspect there’d be little to no protest what so ever, and quite a bit of bewilderment to go with it, especially if it were not a post-operative transexual involved.
I often use the goth identity as an example in debates. I am far enough removed, while close enough connected, for it to be useful. I go to a church which appeals to goths, and have been friends with several in the past. Its not something people are born as (unless, like a 3 week old I met on Easter Sunday, your parents are both goths, though I suspect teenage rebellion will take its toll).
Its quite a new identity, one which many people haven’t got their heads around (though perhaps more so than gender-ambiguity) and one which often marks people out for bullying and social exclusion. When sat around a table in the all-night cafe after Goth Eucharist at Greenbelt one year, someone did a quick straw poll: “who here was bullied as a teenager”. Everyone present (including the non-Goths) had a hand in the air.
I guess its also a useful identity in debates because its a very strong identity, but not one thats tied up in religion, politics or ethnicity. If you accept that society is no longer made up of a majority, with minorities around it, but instead made of intersecting minority identities, and you believe that these can and should interact with, and hold respect for, each other and live together in the same geographic communities, then hopefully you believe Goths should have the same protection as Muslims, Blacks or Gays.
Sadly, political correctness is not a wide open field. It is reserved for a few hallowed groups, of whom those who define on the historically disadvantaged end of the gender binary, and those from ethnic minorities. But what if instead, when the government tries to create simplified legislation to cut right across the board, it simply said that any violence or other acts fuelled by hatred towards a person on the basis of their identity are to be condemned in a modern, diverse, society?
Sadly such legislation is still fragmented. Moreover, it doesn’t even manage to cover everyone it should, with Genderqueers left out of the few shreds of protection Trans people are given, and the Trans part of the good and services equality act left out and then shoved through silently on the back of something else. Oh, and apparently in the next round of legislation, we’ll be told that Trans issues don’t affect school children, even if finally Gay issues do. All in all, a pretty bad state of affairs, and not what the phrase “single equality bill” ought to mean.
But moreover, it tells us something about the society we live in, that we still need such legislation. People still feel the need to challenge minority identities around them, and to build up false-notions of majority identities. Apart from people who voted Labour in one of the last three elections, I can’t actually think of anyone who can say that they’re with the majority.
In a world such as this, surely the problem is developing open mindedness that can begin to bring together all minorities; not in some false project of unity through uniformity, but in developing a climate of safety for people of all peace-abiding minorities, a world where no one leaves anything at the door, but enters in as themselves. That, more than any political decision, would lead to a world of peace.