Is racism a crime?

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Usually, in the western world, racism is a bad thing. but what exactly is racism?

Is it about treating people differently because of their skin color, origin country, etc? In that case, racism wouldn’t always be bad. Choosing mostly black actors while shooting a movie that takes place in Africa in the 17th century is definitely not bad, so is it racism?

Then, is it treating people badly because of their skin color? Obviously having slaves was racist. I’m pretty sure beating up an asian person because you hate china is racist. It’s also definitely bad.

Meet Tom, a decent human being:

Tom

 

Meet John, a racist:

John

And Meet Fred, a black person who has to deal with Tom and John all the time:

Fred

Say John is in a group of people where there are 4 Toms  and 1 Fred, and then he decides to steal 5$ from Fred, just because John hates black people. That’s racist, that’s bad, and that’s a crime. Then think about the same situation, where John also hates black people, but he doesn’t want to be arrested. He then decides to give 5$ to every Tom around him, but gives nothing to Fred. Is that still racist? Obviously, he discriminated on the basis of skin color, and he treated the Fred worse than the Tom, but it’s definitely not a crime. So is it bad? Also, for the sake of argument, try to reverse the skin colors in this situation, and see if your answer changes.

From my experiences, it seems like the only situations where being racist is a crime, are the situations where the person’s actions would also be a crime regardless of race. Is it worse to steal 5$ from Fred because you hate his color, than stealing 5$ from a Tom because you hate him in particular? John will definitely get charged for the same crime, since motivation is very hard to prove (providing he isn’t dumb enough to say out loud that he hates black people).

But there are exceptions. In America and Canada, there are laws that are specifically created to prevent racism. It’s not a crime to refuse service in your restaurant to a person because they didn’t bother putting a shirt on, but it is illegal to refuse service because they are black.

Kick for no shirt

Kick for being black

The problem is that you can’t prove this. It is perfectly fine to deny service to someone in particular that you hate, even if it’s very unprofessional. How do you prove John (the owner in that case) denied service because of race, if he then pretends it’s for another reason?

This kind of law is really asking to be abused. Fred can use it to sue anyone who denies him service for whatever reason, while the actual racists (John) can always find another excuse to act racist. How can we expect those laws to work?

I feel like being racist, while being bad, should be treated pretty much the same way being an asshole is currently treated in society (There’s a lot of overlap between those two categories actually). You’re allowed to be like that, but everyone else is allowed to dislike or hate you because of it. If you commit a crime because of your racism, then you are charged for it. If you’re just racist in your own mind and don’t act on it, go ahead. Just don’t expect respect from the majority of people.

Bad is not equal to illegal.

Don’t you disagree?