Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Charleston church shooting is a hate crime. Should that matter?

Posted by sanityinjection on June 19, 2015

The recent shooting of innocent people at the Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina is a tragedy and an abomination. There can never be any rationale or justification for such an act. The shooter – presumably one Dylan Roof – deserves the death penalty in my opinion. Roof may be tried on federal charges if the Justice Department determines that the shooting constitutes a “hate crime”.

In fact, this incident is pretty much the textbook example of a hate crime – a crime in which the primary motive for the act is hatred toward a particular ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or other protected class. Roof apparently chose his target specifically in order to attack black people in hopes of starting a race war.

Now, just for a moment, let’s imagine that was not the case. Let’s imagine that Roof shot those people for some other reason – he was angry with one of them, or just angry at the world in general and taking it out on innocent people. Absent his racial animosity, this would not be a hate crime. But I ask you, would that make it somehow less heinous? Would that make it less awful for the people who have to figure out how to go on living without their loved ones?

The only difference between a hate crime and any other crime is the ideological motivation of the criminal. But think about what that means: Hate crime legislation criminalizes not the criminal act itself, but the opinions held by the criminal. That is a direct violation of one of the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by our Constitituion: the freedom of conscience, or the freedom to think and hold whatever opinions we choose – no matter how offensive they are to the majority. In fact, it has been argued that you cannot have freedom of speech without first having freedom of conscience.

Should Dylan Roof – assuming he is found guilty of this terrible crime – be subject to additional prosecution on the basis of his racist beliefs? Specifically, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 mandates higher penalties for hate crimes. Should it really matter what he was thinking – or speaking – when he pulled the trigger?

I find racism abhorrent, but I think Roof or any other American has the right to hold such abhorrent beliefs. What he doesn’t have the right to do is shoot people, regardless of whether he dislikes them because they’re black or because their shoelaces are tied a certain way. Trying him for a hate crime is not going to somehow convince other racists to see the error of their ways. In fact, the opposite could be true – by making Roof’s racism the crime, he might become a martyr for white supremacist groups.

I believe South Carolina already allows the death penalty for murder. Let Roof be tried under that statute. Or, if the Feds have to be involved, let them try him for domestic terrorism, which trying to start a race war by murdering innocent people arguably is. But any prosecution under a hate crimes statute – of Roof or any other bigot – is itself an attack on the liberty of all Americans to hold unpopular opinions. When the government can tell us what we are allowed to think, then we are already living in a totalitarian state worse than anything Hitler or Stalin could have imagined in their wildest dreams.

Posted in Domestic News, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Why Rachel Dolezal’s race deception matters

Posted by sanityinjection on June 17, 2015

If you’re an American and you haven’t been living under a rock, you are surely aware of the recent controversy surrounding Rachel Dolezal, who until recently was the president of the Spokane, WA chapter of the NAACP. Dolezal resigned after her parents revealed to the media that while she has frequently claimed to be black, she is in fact white. It also emerged that while a student at predominantly black Howard University, Dolezal sued the university alleging racial discrimination against her because she was white. Dolezal continues to maintain that she considers herself to be black.

Some questioned why the racial identity of a person should matter so much. If Dolezal, or anyone else, wants to identify herself as black, why should that be anything other than a personal matter? The NAACP has pointed out that you don’t have to be black to head one of their chapters.

Indeed, in an ideal world, I would agree that it shouldn’t make any difference.  The reason that it matters is that in the USA, African-Americans have been declared to be a protected class by virtue of the long history of racial discrimination against them, and can therefore be the recipients of various accommodations through “affirmative action” programs, particularly in hiring and academic admissions. When a person chooses to list their racial status on an application, hoping to qualify for affirmative action, it is no longer simply a personal matter. It is a public one.

Dolezal has made her racial identity a public matter on multiple occasions. Ironically, the first time was her lawsuit against Howard, in which she publicly identified as white. More recently, she has reported herself as the target of multiple hate crimes for being black, most of which authorities now believe were fabricated. Why on earth would anyone do this?

As the Daily Mail’s Dominic Lawson writes:

Rachel Dolezal is merely the most spectacular example of the growing phenomenon of people posing as victims — itself the consequence of a culture which portrays victimhood as a form of moral superiority…It is what comes of putting ‘victims’ on a pedestal once accorded to genuine heroes.

People like Dolezal seek to be viewed as victims because it gives them – among certain segments of society, particularly in academia and the media – a measure of respect and attention that would normally have to be earned by actual accomplishments, which is much harder to do. She clearly learned from her failed lawsuit against Howard that she could never be truly viewed as a victim as long as she was white. So she began attempting to be perceived as black – not least by moving to Northern Idaho, where there aren’t that many actual black people around for comparison. Like Walter Mitty, she worked so hard at this goal that she not only persuaded other people, she ended up persuading herself as well.

As a society, we can remove the incentive for frauds like Dolezal by ceasing to provide special advantages to anyone based on their status as a minority – racial, gender, sexual orientation, or whatever. Giving a minority individual preference in any situation does nothing to undo previous discrimination, but in fact constitutes a new act of discrimination. Would we provide the victim of a robbery restitution by committing a robbery against someone else and giving the stolen goods to the first victim? Without affirmative action and the societal celebration of the cult of victimhood, there will be no more Rachel Dolezals.

Posted in Current Events, Domestic News, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sanity Injection is back!

Posted by sanityinjection on June 17, 2015

After a 5 year hiatus, I have decided to revive Sanity Injection. At first I may be somewhat sporadic in posting, but I hope to get back to making multiple posts per week within the next couple of months. I hope you’ll find the blog to be as relevant as it was in its first incarnation. Thanks for reading!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Sanity Injection to close down

Posted by sanityinjection on April 21, 2010

I have decided to close down Sanity Injection after nearly two years. Due to some changes in my life I will not be able to continue to put in the time and effort to take the site to the next level.

Thank you to everyone who has read and commented here. I have learned a lot from you and enjoyed sharing my thoughts with you as well.

I’ll leave the site up for a little while so you can catch up on anything you might have missed.

Sincerely yours,

Sanity Injection

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

Representation without taxation?

Posted by sanityinjection on April 12, 2010

Doctor Zero examines the question of whether the 47% of American households which pay no income tax should have the right to vote. It’s a politically impossible idea that hearkens back to the days in which only those who owned land had the vote, because they were the ones who had a permanent stake in the proper functioning of government (not to mention being more likely to have had sufficient education to vote intelligently.) The idea is that if you pay nothing toward the cost of government but receive benefits from it, your vote is all too easily bought with more government benefits which cost you nothing.

In discarding the idea, the author notes that it is not benefits for the truly poor and needy that are bankrupting America, but rather entitlements for the middle class who do pay taxes – Social Security, Medicare, and now ObamaCare.

I confess I have long found the idea of restricting the franchise attractive. However, even if it were politically feasible, any such restriction puts in the hands of men the right to establish who deserves to be represented in government and who does not. We might feel we could draw that line in the right place today, but then what would stop future leaders with less foresight and integrity from redrawing it in less wholesome ways? After all, it was not so long ago that poll taxes and literacy tests were used to enforce the  disenfranchisement of blacks for no better reason than simple irrational racism. The true value of America’s founding mythos that “all men are created equal” lies less in its truth than in the safeguard it represents against tyranny.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Health insurance: A tale of two states

Posted by sanityinjection on April 12, 2010

Check out this article in Fortune contrasting the health insurance markets in New York and Arizona. Shawn Tully explains that ObamaCare is going to have the same burdensome regulations that have driven premiums in New York sky-high:

http://money.cnn.com/2010/04/09/news/economy/healthcare_insurance_affordable.fortune/index.htm

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CNN rediscovers reporting, covers Tea Party rallies

Posted by sanityinjection on April 8, 2010

One of the worst-kept secrets in journalism is that the major news organizations rarely engage in any actual reporting. The majority of the news they report is lifted from the wire services or from another news agency. Rather than spend the time and money to send a human reporter to check facts and interview people, it’s much easier to depend on what their colleagues have already done. The trouble with this is that any errors or bias in the original story get repeated, reflected and magnified on down the line until they attain the status of fact.

So it has been with coverage of the Tea Party movement. Most new desks have been quick to pick up on the reports of isolated racist comments and signs and reflect that as characteristic of the movement as a whole, without ever sending a reporter to a Tea Party rally.

With this in mind, I applaud CNN for bucking the trend and sending reporter and producer Shannon Travis to attend several Tea Party rallies in Utah and Colorado. Travis, as it happens, is African-American, and his reporting makes clear that he did not find anything like a racist or hate-filled atmosphere at the Tea Party events: “Almost everyone I met was welcoming…Some of them e-mailed me after my trip, thanking our crew for fairly giving them a voice.” He also noted that his was the only national news team that covered the events in person.

To CNN’s further credit, the story was not buried in some obscure corner of the site, but was linked prominently yesterday with a photo on the CNN homepage.

Here’s hoping other news networks and media outlets take a cue from CNN and start doing more reporting and less repeating.

Posted in Domestic News, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

New Jersey Democrats: The law is whatever we want

Posted by sanityinjection on April 6, 2010

One might be pardoned for thinking that in the current anti-incumbent climate, with voters uneasy about the health care reform law, elected officials and political parties would be at pains to avoid anything that seemed like arrogance or disregard for the will of the people.

Unless, of course, you live in New Jersey, where the Democratic Party has made it clear on multiple occasions that the laws and Constitution are only important to the extent that they benefit New Jersey Democrats. The most recent example relates to an effort begun by New Jersey voters to hold an election to recall Democrat Senator Robert Menendez. Like a number of states, New Jersey law allows for a process by which an elected official can be recalled before their term expires (as happened with former California Governor Gray Davis.) The process is fairly involved and requires a large number of signatures and steps to make sure that it is not something that can be easily done.

Naturally, Menendez isn’t too happy about this development. But instead of vigorously making the case to the people of New Jersey why the recall effort should be opposed, Menendez wants to make sure they never get to have an opinion at all. He is asking the New Jersey Supreme Court to rule the recall effort unconstitutional  because there is no language in the US Constitution that specifically authorizes the recall of US Senators.

This should be a slam dunk from a constitutional perspective. The Constitution reserves all powers not expressly given to the federal government to the several states, and New Jersey’s recall law has never been challenged under that state’s own constitution. So Menendez should be wasting his time, right?

Wrong. Because this is New Jersey, where the state Supreme Court sees the law as something to be casually hacked to pieces whenever it suits the Democratic party. It was just eight years ago that this same New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously upheld the Democrats’ illegal last-minute substitution of Frank Lautenberg for incumbent Bob Torricelli as their Senate candidate – after Torricelli had been chosen by the voters in the Democratic primary – simply because the party wanted to dump Torricelli after he was the target of federal corruption charges. The Court held that the law had never envisioned a situation like Torricelli’s (really? a crooked politician is an unheard of concept?) and that keeping Torricelli on the ballot would constitute an unfair advantage for the Republicans (who held a gun to NJ Democrats’ heads and forced them to nominate a crook?) Lautenberg’s name went on the ballot, he won and remains the other Senator from New Jersey to this day.

So given that shameful history, why shouldn’t Menendez think the corrupt New Jersey Supreme Court might well rule in his favor? After all, he and the Democrats have a second argument: Because Menendez is Hispanic, the recall effort *must* be racially motivated and therefore shouldn’t be allowed no matter what the Constitution says.

Next time they screw up my order at the local Burger King, which is staffed almost exclusively by racial minorities, I am going to claim that the deficiency was racially motivated. How far do you think I’ll get with that one?

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

You have the right to attract attention to yourself

Posted by sanityinjection on April 5, 2010

I don’t know Ty McDowell of Portland, Maine personally. I allow for the possibility than in other aspects of her life, she may perhaps be an intelligent person. But on this past Saturday, at least, Ms. McDowell may have qualified as the Dumbest Person In America.

McDowell, you see, believes strongly in equal rights for men and women. To her, that includes the right to bare one’s chest in public. So she arranged a protest in which she and two dozen other female true believers walked topless down a main street in Portland. Of course, this was hardly the first protest involving female nudity, and if that were the end of the story, I wouldn’t be making derogatory suppositions about McDowell’s intelligence.

In fact, McDowell and her fellow protesters were not arrested. Under Maine law such behavior is only criminal if the genitals are exposed. So in fact, legally McDowell and company *were* within their rights to do what they did, and were treated accordingly by the law.

Nonetheless, McDowell was by her own account “enraged” after the demonstration. But not because of the police or the law. She was angry because a crowd of hundreds of onlookers – mostly male – had watched and followed the demonstration – some snapping photos and videos. (To be fair, she might have been equally furious with some of her own group who didn’t seem to mind posing for photos.)

You see, it turns out that what McDowell really expects is not that a woman should have the right to walk around topless, but that the rest of us should all act like this is no big deal. And I’m sure there are places where that might even be the case. However, Portland, Maine wouldn’t be on the top of my list.

It strikes me as the height of stupidity for a female to walk around in public with her top off and not expect males to ogle her. While she certainly has the right to remain unmolested, if you don’t want people to pay undue attention to you, don’t attract undue attention to yourself. Duh. Furthermore, it seems inherently contradictory to simultaneously seek to draw attention to your cause and then be angry when you in fact receive attention.

Ms. McDowell is certainly entitled to her views, but if she thinks that the factors of human biology which inherently lead men to be attracted to female breasts as a secondary sexual characteristic are somehow going to be altered by protesting, she is definitely the Dumbest Person In America. Heck, even *women* notice other women’s chests.

I am all for equal rights under the law, but that is not the same as pretending that there are no biological differences between men and women. While it is always impolite to stare at someone no matter how underdressed they may be, let’s face it, there are impolite people out there. If this is truly a great social injustice, the best solution would probably be to have men refrain from going topless in public also. In fact, I would argue that such should in fact be the norm outside of a pool or beach environment.

Do you ever wonder when you hear about people like McDowell where their parents are and what they could possibly be thinking?

Posted in Domestic News | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

A conscience in Hollywood?

Posted by sanityinjection on April 2, 2010

Normally the film industry does not receive much attention here at Sanity Injection, as I tend to believe they receive far too much of it to begin with. But I thought it would be nice to start off the month of April with some positive praise. So our subject today is actor Neal McDonough.

McDonough is one of those actors you have probably seen and would recognize (he has sort of a distinctive face) without necessarily knowing his name. Anyway, he’s appeared in a number of movies and TV shows over the past several years. The reason Mr. McDonough comes to our attention today is his recent sacking from a new ABC TV series just three days into filming. According to Nikki Finke over at Deadline.com, McDonough refused to participate in steamy love scenes with co-star Virginia Madsen. McDonough is happily married and a faithful Catholic, and feels that getting naked on screen with an actress is incompatible with his marriage vows.

Apparently, McDonough has made this reservation clear in past projects he’s worked on, including ABC’s “Desperate Housewives”. So it’s not as if they can claim that he suddenly sprung it on them at the last minute. More likely, the show’s producers didn’t really believe that a Hollywood actor would actually have morals that couldn’t be bought for enough money. Still, if the love scenes are integral to the project, and McDonough won’t do them, it’s right for all parties that they find someone else, and McDonough foregoes the money he would have made to stand on his principles.

The point is not whether any of us agree with McDonough’s beliefs. The point is that he was willing to stand up for those beliefs even when doing so cost him wages and potentially could label him as “difficult” to work with. You can imagine what it must be like to take such a stand in the middle of a Hollywood culture that views nothing as sacred and any values beyond the worship of glamour and special effects as strictly for the hicks. How many other actors and actresses might there be out there who are similarly uncomfortable with things they are asked to do for roles, but lack the courage to say “No”? Nor is the film industry the only walk of life in which people face such choices – it happens every day. The pressure is always on to conform, to go along with what is expected of you by the culture that surrounds you. It is not easy to defy that culture in favor of an ethos that may not have any outside support at hand. Being true to what you believe is right in the face of pressure is something to be admired no matter where or when it is found.

Posted in Current Events | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »