Wednesday, October 03, 2007
And the SJP stuff
Finally, in the saddest part of the day, the Senate made what I think was a terrible decision in terms of equal protection in regards to SJP. I've taken this portion of the minutes and posted it at Beetle Beat Extended, and I suggest you just look through it yourself.
People come up to the SJP table and ask if they were wearing a suicide belt. People who table for the group had to be trained on how to deal with people who were hostile and aggressive.Yes, that happens when you have an opinion that people don't like. Just ask the Republicans. I don't think that makes you a victim of hate crimes.
Kicking the sign in two pieces inspired fear and hindered free speech.Who was scared? I really want to know. I want SJP to stand up and say they were scared. If they weren't, then they're bullshitting, as most of us recognized immediately. They're the victims of people who don't like them. It happens. That doesn't make every problem a hate crime.
Gabe Weiner focused mostly on the definition of hate crime in law, insisting that this didn't meet it. That's probably true, but the Senate can say whatever the hell it wants, probably. I say it's not a hate crime because it's just stupid to try to claim such a broad identity as SJP does. They are a political advocacy group, no matter how they try to pitch themselves. They aren't the Palestinian Student Association.
It's important to remember that no one knows who did it, which means no one knows the motivation. Was it hatred of the Palestinian people? There's no evidence of that. Maybe it was just folks who think they stand for suicide bombings (who exist, according to SJP). Maybe it was the brother of some cop that some guy bit once.
They weren't looking at State law and legal definitions. The person who kicked the sign in two was not asking about definitions.That makes absolutely no fucking sense in terms of trying to decide whether or not it's a hate crime. And, as far as they know, maybe it was kicked in by a guy reading California Hate Crime Law at the same time.
What happened was people were assaulted politically.Boo fucking hoo! That happens in the real world. Your politics are attacked. That doesn't mean you're a victim of a hate crime.
[Husam Samir Khalil Zakharia] said hypothetically he agreed that it would be ideal if they knew the exact intentions of the person who did this vandalism. But they didn't. But they do know what the political context was and how people in the group feel. That’s what the Senate should base its decision on.Senate! Hop to accommodate our feelings! (And yes, that's exactly what the Senate did)
[Jeremy Anapol] said the first Resolved Clause stated that the ASUC will support SJP in its attempts to raise funds for and reconstruct the sign. That seemed good on its face, but he believed that would be a violation of the principle of equal protection, because other groups that might not enjoy as much political support as SJP would have no guarantee the Senate would act and give them the same support as SJP. He would suggest striking that, or replacing it with wording saying the ASUC would support victims of vandalism or censorship.Remember that. It'll come back. Watch how bravely the SJP folks and their supporters stand up for this concept.
Mr. Weiner asked if she would be willing to call it a hate crime if other signs were broken. Ms. Winston said she would be willing to listen to that argument. SJP was a political group and a group of individuals, many of whom were affected by events that took place in Palestine. So this was a valid argument for a hate crime. The Cal Dems, e.g., wouldn't have such strong support for damage to its sign being a hate crime. Mr. Weiner said that based on its mission statement and membership, the SJP was not a national group but a political group. Ms. Winston said they were a political group that supported a nationality.Haha! Nice call. Do Cal Dems support America? Does that make an attack on the Cal Dems a hate crime against Americans? No, no, that's the wrong type of victim. And if the key is hostile climate and folks who go up to the table to accuse them of ridiculous things, just replace Cal Dems with Berkeley College Republicans.
And don't miss this one:
Mr. Shams said he wanted to thank Mr. Anapol for being civil and for the Jewish caucus for working on this. Ms. Coleman said there was no "Jewish caucus," and not all Jewish members of the Senate felt the same way. Mr. Shams said he thought they met. Ms. Coleman said there was no meeting.Don't Jews have those secret Jewish Caucus Meetings?
Mr. Osmeña yielded time to Mr. Anapol. Mr. Anapol said that in a last-ditch effort to ensure equal protection for groups that encounter this in the future, he would ask the Senate to consider the following Resolved Clause: "Resolved, that in future cases of bias or hate-motivated crimes against any student group, the ASUC Senate will provide appropriate support, both monetary and rhetorical, to the targeted group, regardless of its membership."As you might expect, that amendment never happened.
Mr. Anapol said the idea was that even if a group didn't have the same support politically that SJP had in the Senate, the Senate will have committed itself to giving it the same treatment. He thought this would be good step in combating hate crimes and bias on campus in general.
At this point, though, the Senate has sort of tied itself into a corner, because it's possibly obligated, under equal protection, to take this sort of action on a content-neutral basis, no matter who comes bitching. It also may mean they have to provide the same free insurance to all other student groups as they did for SJP.
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