Sunday, 27 November 2011

"Who, Whom?" Not "Rule Of Law"

"The notion of hate-crime undermines the ideal (and I think is intended to undermine the ideal) of equality under the law, to the great advantage of political entrepreneurs, who see nothing in a polity or an economy but spoils to be divided in their clientele's, and therefore in their own, favour."
The excellent Theodore Dalrymple, at the Social Affairs Unit, writing in response to a Guardian report on the horrific murder of one Stuart Walker in Scotland late last month.

The notion of "hate-crime" distinguishes crimes according to motive, in particular the hatred of a given demographic group - almost always a collective "minority" of some sort. In the case of Stuart Walker, it was supposed that his vicious murder was motivated by his homosexuality. As Dalrymple correctly points out in his piece, however, this is morally irrelevant: murder is murder, regardless of whether it was motivated by the victim's membership of demographic group A, B or C - at least that is, if we are to presuppose the sanity of a Liberal political paradigm in which individual rights are not punctuated according to demographics.

From the perspective afforded by the collectivist premises of those who advocate unlimited democratic government however, a victim's demographic profile is morally relevant since that data may have implications both for the "just" allocation of administrative resources and the pursuit or maintenance of political power. Here is the likely consequence of this tacit perspective both in the press and in the administrative organs of government per se: crimes will be ranked according to the demographic (i.e. political) importance of the victim.Victims who happen to be members of favoured demographic groups will receive greater press attention than those victims who do not have quite the same pretextual demographic "status". The administration of the police and judicary may or may not show favourtism - depending on the political import of the case.

The existence of this tacit line of thought in the press and the administrative organs of government alone is sufficient to refute their claims to that old "rule of law" canard. As long as Taiwanese society is dominated by a very poorly limited State, there can never be any "rule of law"; there can be only a more or less benign or more or less malignant application of Lenin's "Who, Whom?" principle.

And so it is this that must be borne in mind in reading about the case of a certain "Taiwan Teacher" (a U.S. citizen whom I have met previously, though I forget his real name) up in Hualien who was viciously assaulted by a gang of Taiwanese youths earlier this month. Perhaps the police will eventually catch them and the case will go to court. Perhaps not. Either way, I doubt the Taiwanese press will take an interest - why? Who cares? It has no great political implication for either the pan-green or pan-blue political establishment. If it were a gang of foreigners beating up a Taiwanese on the other hand, then that almost certainly would get the attention of the Taiwanese press.

This is why I made the point that, living here as foreigners, we have to be very careful and must not be so complacent with our own safety as to merely assume that we are protected either by the friendliness and good will of 99% of Taiwan's people, or Taiwan's supposed "rule of law".

Mr 1% is always out there, and either side of the green-blue political establishment has no great interest in what happens to a mere foreigner - unless he has political or, shall we say, "underground" connections.

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