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Racial discrimination is A-OK with Alaska's finest
April 22, 2010 10:55 AM   Subscribe

"All Islanders looked the same to her, she explained. She couldn't tell them apart. So none would be allowed in." In Anchorage, police uphold the right of businesses to deny service based on race.

It gets worse. Even when the courts find evidence of discrimination, as they did in the case of Carolyn Mitchell, there's no guarantee of justice. Carolyn Mitchell was awarded damages of $1 by a jury in 2004. In 2009 she was ordered to pay $45,594, the cost of the trial, minus $1.
posted by stinker (151 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Great post. Looks like there's a lot of civil rights pain today on the blue.
posted by toodleydoodley at 11:09 AM on April 22, 2010


If a fraternity of Alaskan-Samoans come into your bar last week and upturn your place of business, then another group comes in this week, what are you supposed to do?
posted by polymodus at 11:10 AM on April 22, 2010


If a group of men come into your bar last week and upturn your place of business, then another group of men comes in this week, what are you supposed to do?
posted by King, in the hall of the mountain at 11:13 AM on April 22, 2010 [53 favorites]


Let them in and keep a close eye on them. Why?
posted by gottabefunky at 11:13 AM on April 22, 2010


If a fraternity of Alaskan-Samoans African-Americans come into your bar last week and upturn your place of business, then another group comes in this week, what are you supposed to do?
posted by gottabefunky at 11:14 AM on April 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


polymodus How's business at the Asian Garden?
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 11:14 AM on April 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


group of men

But not just any group of men. Generalization is lossy.
posted by polymodus at 11:15 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


We have it easy in big, urban cities. We have social infrastructure.

This bartender probably had an Alaskan high-school education. Put yourself in her shoes—If a cultural sample comes into your bar last week and upturn your place of business, and sample of the same culture returns the following—how would you feel, and what is your response.
posted by polymodus at 11:18 AM on April 22, 2010


polymodus How's business at the Asian Garden?

Sorry, not into fusion cuisine.
posted by polymodus at 11:18 AM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


If a group of men come into your bar last week and upturn your place of business, then another group of men comes in this week, what are you supposed to do?

Turn it into a lesbian bar
posted by thesmophoron at 11:21 AM on April 22, 2010 [15 favorites]


"He's a foreigner. I think he's probably Samoan. But that doesn't matter, though, does it? Are you prejudiced?"

"Hell no. I just suffer from a highly specific form of racial agnosia which causes me to be unable to distinguish between various Pacific Islanders."

I'm pretty sure that last sentence didn't make it into the working script.
posted by adipocere at 11:21 AM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Put yourself in her shoes—If a cultural sample comes into your bar last week and upturn your place of business, and sample of the same culture returns the following—how would you feel, and what is your response."

You're right. The next time a cultural sample of some rowdy white guys get into a fight in some bar, that bar should just ban all white guys from ever coming again. I hope all bars start taking up this standard.
posted by shen1138 at 11:22 AM on April 22, 2010 [30 favorites]


"I get really upset about it. I know there's fights at bars. But if a black person gets into a fight at a bar, are you going to ban all the black people?"

The answer to that is probably no. Alaska has one of the largest Pacific Islander communities, percentage-wise, in the United States. We rank third behind Hawaii and Utah. The community in Anchorage has many strong but separate churches and several community organizations, but no equivalent of the NAACP.
Apparently, they need one.
posted by zarq at 11:24 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Turn it into a lesbian bar

Or not. From the second link:

"Corinna, don't bother."
To which he replies
"Yeah, listen to your lesbian girlfriend."
posted by stinker at 11:24 AM on April 22, 2010


that bar should just ban all white guys from ever coming again

All bars tolerate some threshold of rowdiness. That's not the problem Fei Harding was seeing here.
posted by polymodus at 11:26 AM on April 22, 2010


Reading the comments on the linked blog, it's remarkable how many people seem to believe that businesses have the legal right to discriminate on the basis of race. Even commenters who oppose such discrimination seem to think that it's legal.

Is this some sort of Alaska thing? It's not like this is exactly an obscure, esoteric area of the law.
posted by tdismukes at 11:27 AM on April 22, 2010


@shen1138

You quote my question and pretend it's rhetorical and that you know my own answer to it.
posted by polymodus at 11:28 AM on April 22, 2010


Alaska has one of the largest Pacific Islander communities, percentage-wise, in the United States.

Why is that, exactly, I wonder? Aside the jokes about "Our ancestral homeland is a glorious tropical paradise, but we got sick of that so all we moved to Anchorage," is there a particular reason that Alaska has such a comparatively high Pacific Islander population?
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:29 AM on April 22, 2010


Put yourself in her shoes—If a cultural sample comes into your bar last week and upturn your place of business, and sample of the same culture returns the following—how would you feel, and what is your response.

I might feel worried.

My response would be "Make sure my two biggest bouncers keep a real close eye on those guys."

The insinuation that this person is behaving just like any of us would in a similar situation is INCREDIBLY insulting. She's wrong, and racist. Straight up.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:29 AM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


This bartender probably had an Alaskan high-school education. Put yourself in her shoes—If a cultural sample comes into your bar last week and upturn your place of business, and sample of the same culture returns the following—how would you

If the bartender has an Alaskan high school education in a place lacking 'social infrastructure', I'm not sure they know what a 'cultural sample' is and with their limited education should not be making such 'cultural' judgments. They should let customers in without discriminating on the basis of what is, in effect, a racial sample.

Out of curiousity, polymodus, how do you distinguish between a 'cultural' and a 'racial' sample?
posted by Azaadistani at 11:32 AM on April 22, 2010


I'm not sure polymodus is trying to defend the owner's behavior so much as to attempt to understand where it's coming from. I certainly hope so, because the owner's behavior is pretty indefensible; ignorance and local culture might explain, but it certainly doesn't excuse.
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:34 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


All Islanders looked the same to her, she explained. She couldn't tell them apart.

Does the business owner look like an elf? She may be living with Williams syndrome.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:35 AM on April 22, 2010


Alaska has one of the largest Pacific Islander communities, percentage-wise, in the United States.

0.5%, according to Wikipedia. Hawaii, California and Utah are 1, 2 and 3, respectively.
posted by electroboy at 11:42 AM on April 22, 2010


I will frame my concern a different way.

We all know and understand that racial discrimination is bad for society. (I'm using the non-neutral definition of discrimination, which, by the way, modern dictionaries use as the first definition.) Through the hard work of many people, all minorities in America now enjoy formal protection through anti-discrimination laws.

Now, there are still people out there, for instance in the cold reaches of Alaska, that hold incorrect views about society. But too often, those of us that are so-called "enlightened" are content with throwing the law at them, with ridiculing or belittling their existence. Just look at the way the OP is framed--I rest my case.

I am calling for more sympathy, for every party involved, because it's a much better way to get people on our side. We build communities through shared understanding and experiences.
posted by polymodus at 11:45 AM on April 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


is there a particular reason that Alaska has such a comparatively high Pacific Islander population?

This is just a guess, but the article mentions that Samoan culture pushes them towards physical occupations, and it would seem like Alaska has a lot of them (logging, fishing etc). Again, total guess on my part, but it seems logical. I doubt Samoa has a lot of jobs.
posted by desjardins at 11:47 AM on April 22, 2010


Dude, seriously. Your earlier comments had no such shared understanding attempted or communicated. They simply look like and come off as trolling and/or knee-jerk defenses of racist behavior.
posted by hincandenza at 11:47 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry, that was confusing. Alaska has the 4th highest population of Pacific Islanders, percentage-wise. Although considering the total population of Alaska is only about 700,000, that would mean there's 3500 Pacific Islanders in Alaska.
posted by electroboy at 11:48 AM on April 22, 2010


polymodus, ignorance of the law is not a defense.
posted by desjardins at 11:48 AM on April 22, 2010


Oh! I've heard this one!
A group of Samoans walk into a bar.
You'd think one of them would have ducked.
posted by Floydd at 11:52 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


See polymodus, I take a different approach.

If you want to run a restaurant, or bar, or other place of public accomodation, you can't have racist policies. If you insist upon your right to have racist policies, you aren't allowed to run a restaurant, or bar, or other place of public accomodation. Sure, we can do without the ridicule and belittlement, but you can be damned sure I'm calling in the motherfucking strike force if my wife isn't allowed into a bar because she's black.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:53 AM on April 22, 2010 [13 favorites]


@hincandenza

Don't you see that it's your own mentalities about racial discrimination that causes you to overread my initial comments?

@desjardins

My critique of hincandenza applies to your response. I am talking about sympathy; somehow you read this into the standard ignorance-defense trope.
posted by polymodus at 11:54 AM on April 22, 2010


@MrMoonPie.

Agreed. By all means, invoke upon the law when necessary. But that wasn't my concern here.
posted by polymodus at 11:56 AM on April 22, 2010


If a fraternity of Alaskan-Samoans come into your bar last week and upturn your place of business, then another group comes in this week, what are you supposed to do?

Take them out onto the patio, throw their assed over the balcony so they fall four stories through a garden greenhouse and they develop speech impediments.
No, wait, that's what I would do if a fraternity of Alaskan-Samoans came into my bar and gave my wife a foot massage.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:57 AM on April 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


I am calling for more sympathy, for every party involved, because it's a much better way to get people on our side.

Yeah, but here's the thing: I don't really care if she has racist beliefs, I care if she operates her business according to racist policies. It's not "throwing the law" at someone to expect them to not break the law, and respectfully, ignoring a law and instead attempting to be sympathetic towards WHY someone is operating their business according to racist policies sounds like a complete waste of time when there's a LAW that already exists to prevent her from doing stuff like this.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:59 AM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


We have it easy in big, urban cities. We have social infrastructure.

This bartender probably had an Alaskan high-school education. Put yourself in her shoes—If a cultural sample comes into your bar last week and upturn your place of business, and sample of the same culture returns the following—how would you feel, and what is your response.


I learned, before kindergarten, that classifying all people on the basis of the behavior of some is wrong. I like to think that business owners in Alaska would be considered intelligent enough beings to have already figured this out. When they're not, there shouldn't really be any excuse-making - especially if its founded in some sort of other prejudice (that people from Anchorage are simply too isolated to know any better.) Your ignorance of the ethnic make-up of Anchorage doesn't make you any more correct. Racism is racism, and it's often easy to spot.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 12:00 PM on April 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't really care if she has racist beliefs

Maybe... you should.
posted by polymodus at 12:02 PM on April 22, 2010


Hi polymodus, as the OP, I want to address your concern about how this was framed. I am down with building community based on shared experiences, but dang is it hard sometimes. I woke up the other day, sun was shining, snow was melting. And under the snow I saw that someone has used weedkiller to deface my lawn. A star of David was burned into the grass in front of my porch (my family is Jewish, which the neighbors know about and have remarked upon). So in terms of sympathy for the devil, I have very little. I still talk to my neighbors, I still engage with them, even though I know that they suffer from ignorance and hatred. But it still gets my dander up and I think ridicule is remarkably effective at (1.) making people see how bad they really look and (2.) helping victims laugh at their situation.
posted by stinker at 12:02 PM on April 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


This reminds me of the moron chick I saw chatting on line, claiming she was "genderblind" and unable to distinguish between males and females. She got pissy when people called her bisexual.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 12:05 PM on April 22, 2010


You can castigate the bully, or help him and teach him something. Now, look at the title bar of this thread.
posted by polymodus at 12:05 PM on April 22, 2010


There's no discussion here. We've already worked this one out. 50 years ago There are no excuses, rationalizations, or explanations. Anyone who doesn't get this is so far behind the times as to be functionally useless in a modern society. As far as I'm concerned racism on this level needs to be considered a mental illness.
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:08 PM on April 22, 2010


If a fraternity of Alaskan-Samoans come into your bar last week and upturn your place of business, then another group comes in this week, what are you supposed to do?

So you're pro-racism. Interesting.

*makes a note of that*
posted by Sys Rq at 12:08 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


So you're pro-racism. Interesting.

Well, maybe they just hate fraternities. *shrug*
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 12:09 PM on April 22, 2010


As far as I'm concerned racism on this level needs to be considered a mental illness.

I find this statement to be unscientific.
posted by polymodus at 12:10 PM on April 22, 2010


You can castigate the bully, or help him and teach him something. Now, look at the title bar of this thread.

I would like to help teach bar owners that it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of race.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:11 PM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


@Sys Rq

Please see 11:45. <3
posted by polymodus at 12:11 PM on April 22, 2010


If a fraternity of Alaskan-Samoans come into your bar last week and upturn your place of business, then another group comes in this week, what are you supposed to do?

Treat them like customers?
posted by cazoo at 12:12 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


@23skidoo help teach bar owners

Not sure where you live, but I tend to have trouble getting their attention for longer than it takes to order a drink.
posted by polymodus at 12:13 PM on April 22, 2010


I am calling for more sympathy, for every party involved, because it's a much better way to get people on our side.

Sorry. You're sympathetic to racists. I stand corrected.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:13 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry. You're sympathetic to racists. I stand corrected.

Everyone is racist.
posted by polymodus at 12:17 PM on April 22, 2010


posted by King, in the hall of the mountain If a group of men come into your bar last week and upturn your place of business, then another group of men comes in this week, what are you supposed to do?

My understanding is if you have a problem, if no one else will help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team.
posted by mattdidthat at 12:20 PM on April 22, 2010 [14 favorites]


Empathy and understanding. These two are never wrong.
posted by polymodus at 12:20 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not sure where you live, but I tend to have trouble getting their attention for longer than it takes to order a drink.

Nice dodge, Senator, but you were the one who said "You can castigate the bully, or help him and teach him something." I wasn't making a joke when I said that I'd like to help teach bar owners that it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of race." While all the bars I go to seem to have no problem with obeying the law, it seems like some in Alaska do not, and I'm going to do my tiny, tiny part by not having any sympathy for people who break the law with regards to who they let into their place of business.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:20 PM on April 22, 2010


Everyone is racist.
Bingo!
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:23 PM on April 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


posted by polymodus I tend to have trouble getting their attention for longer than it takes to order a drink.

Well, it's probably because you're a racist.
posted by mattdidthat at 12:23 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Everyone is racist.

That's arguable, but even if true, not all of us ban Polynesians from the businesses that we own.
posted by infinitywaltz at 12:27 PM on April 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


Everyone is racist.

That's numberwang!
posted by cazoo at 12:28 PM on April 22, 2010 [16 favorites]


is there a particular reason that Alaska has such a comparatively high Pacific Islander population?

This is just a guess, but the article mentions that Samoan culture pushes them towards physical occupations, and it would seem like Alaska has a lot of them (logging, fishing etc). Again, total guess on my part, but it seems logical. I doubt Samoa has a lot of jobs.


That, and immigrants just generally tend to go where people they know went. You want to come to America, sure, but you still want people of your culture. More specifically, you often know your brother or child or friend who already emigrated to America. That's how you end up with large immigrant neighborhoods in cities. For example, there's nothing inherent about Dearborn, MI that caused it to have such a high percentage of Muslims, but there it is.
posted by explosion at 12:29 PM on April 22, 2010


For example, there's nothing inherent about Dearborn, MI that caused it to have such a high percentage of Muslims, but there it is.

Arabs. Not necessarily Muslims.
posted by electroboy at 12:35 PM on April 22, 2010


@ MrMoonPie, mattdithat.

No, you misread. To be fair it was a bit convoluted:

1. "Sorry. You're sympathetic to racists. I stand corrected."
2. Everyone is racist. (my reply)

The implication would be:

3. I am sympathetic to everyone.

Anyways. Not everyone is racist. And we all have slightly different definitions of what it means to be a racist person. But most of us have enough self-awareness to understand that in each of us exist assumptions and preferences that contradict the abstract values that we consciously and verbally hold. Every day this is a personal battle, and for anyone to deny that is to be a hypocrite.
posted by polymodus at 12:36 PM on April 22, 2010


Arabs. Not necessarily Muslims.

No, actually. Muslims. Not necessarily Arabs. If YOU want to walk up to a burly Chaldean man and tell him his mother is an Arab, God save you.
posted by thesmophoron at 12:36 PM on April 22, 2010


I find this statement to be unscientific.

And I find racist people to be crazy and dangerous.

Everyone is racist.

Because we live in a society that contains a certain amount of systemic and historical racism, there is a certain threshold of racist behavior that can be explained away as being simple adherence to societal norms. If your behavior is based on societal norms from 50 years ago, you have a problem. Especially considering the enormous amount of societal attention to this very issue in that amount of time.

Racist behavior doesn't make you a "racist" anymore than my use of a common french idiom like "c'est la vie" makes me bilingual. When your behavior goes above and beyond acceptable levels of ignorance, and you refuse to separate your behavioral mistakes from your core beliefs, that's when you become a racist.

So no, everyone is not a racist. Nobody is born racist. It's learned behavior, and it can be unlearned. Most people who unwittingly display racist behavior find it to be undesirable. They seek to correct that behavior. Anyone who finds that behavior to not only be acceptable, but preferred....is crazy. If science disagrees with me, then science can kiss my black ass.
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:39 PM on April 22, 2010 [9 favorites]


Agreed. Moreover racism is only one form of social prejudice. There's discrimination against women, against ethnicities and subcultures (opens up more subtle reasoning and issues, in contrast to the standard, rather coarse classification based on outward appearance), against youth, against sexuality.
posted by polymodus at 12:43 PM on April 22, 2010


posted by polymodus Everyone is racist.

posted by polymodus Not everyone is racist.

Ignore the troll, folks.
posted by mattdidthat at 12:44 PM on April 22, 2010 [9 favorites]


And of course against religion, as the OP mentioned.
posted by polymodus at 12:44 PM on April 22, 2010


Ignore the troll, folks.

Hate me all you like. Sorry that my earlier comments weren't worded clearly; it's a hard issue to think through.
posted by polymodus at 12:47 PM on April 22, 2010


If YOU want to walk up to a burly Chaldean man and tell him his mother is an Arab, God save you.

As opposed to telling him his mother is something else? Oh noes, I'm scared of the big burly Chaldeans! Won't someone save me from the Chaldeans!
posted by electroboy at 12:49 PM on April 22, 2010


and to clarify, I do feel sympathy for them. I feel sorry for them in the same way I feel sorry for people who never learn to read. There are a lot of people who are denied the privileges of our modern society yet shoulder too much of the blame for their own lack of enlightenment. I get that. I even understand how some people's ignorance is used against them by those who should know better.

This is not one of those cases. To be a business owner and expect in this day and age to blatantly bar an entire race from your establishment goes above and beyond any such argument.
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:50 PM on April 22, 2010


True. Though, empathy is not the same as pity.
posted by polymodus at 12:51 PM on April 22, 2010


To be a business owner and expect in this day and age to blatantly bar an entire race from your establishment goes above and beyond any such argument.

Point taken. Apparently this (and variations from it) occurs in other first-world countries such as Japan.
posted by polymodus at 12:54 PM on April 22, 2010


Glad you've switched from sympathy to empathy. It makes your argument more palatable.
posted by stinker at 12:57 PM on April 22, 2010


it's a hard issue to think through.

Not really. Don't exclude people from your place of business based on race. It's immoral and illegal. There, done.
posted by desjardins at 12:58 PM on April 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


immoral

Circular logic.
posted by polymodus at 1:06 PM on April 22, 2010


If a group of white men come into your bar last week and upturn your place of business, then another group of white men comes in this week, what are you supposed to do?
posted by hal_c_on at 1:07 PM on April 22, 2010


it's a hard issue to think through.

Harder for some than others.
posted by ericthegardener at 1:07 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


illegal

The law is meant for execution. It is bad at conveying knowledge. It's also a lower bound, a bottom line--too often, the law alone is not enough to bring about the desired benefits.
posted by polymodus at 1:07 PM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


@hal_c_on Your question was already addressed upthread.
posted by polymodus at 1:08 PM on April 22, 2010


"There's discrimination against women, against ethnicities and subcultures (opens up more subtle reasoning and issues, in contrast to the standard, rather coarse classification based on outward appearance), against youth, against sexuality."

In other news: Gay Softball Team Disqualified for Not Being Gay Enough
posted by Mitheral at 1:08 PM on April 22, 2010


Watching the bar owner (Fei) in the video(s) - she knows she did something wrong. She's just trying to justify it now, fumbling around, instead of just admitting it was messed up, and moving on.
posted by cashman at 1:08 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ethnic jokes might be uncouth, but we laugh because they're based on truth,
posted by Scoo at 1:09 PM on April 22, 2010


@ericthegardener

Perhaps you simply haven't thought carefully enough.
posted by polymodus at 1:10 PM on April 22, 2010


In other news: Gay Softball Team Disqualified for Not Being Gay Enough

Foot, meet bullet.
posted by zarq at 1:11 PM on April 22, 2010


Point taken. Apparently this (and variations from it) occurs in other first-world countries such as Japan.

I've spent a lot of time In Japan. I do business in Japan. Yes, there are certain cultural barriers to entry in some places, and they're working from an entirely different racial and historical context (for example, I don't really get bothered by blackface when I'm there) But I'm pretty certain that if I went to enter a bar with any of my Japanese friends or colleagues, and was denied entry because of my race, my friends would be horrified, upset and embarassed.

I've seen a fair bit of this world, and it's rare that I'm made as aware of the color of my skin as much as I am here at home.
posted by billyfleetwood at 1:14 PM on April 22, 2010


I have a cousin who grew up in the U.K. The owners of a certain pub would not let her in; the (Caucasian) friends accompanying her were, indeed, dismayed. By walking out with her (I suppose to find a different place), they demonstrated support and sent a message to the owners.

It was about a 15 years ago; I'm sure it has gotten "better" since.
posted by polymodus at 1:22 PM on April 22, 2010


You can castigate the bully, or help him and teach him something.

I'm not world's remedial civil rights tutor. I see a bully denying somebody their rights, I'm not going to whip out a textbook. I will deny them my money as a customer, I will mock them in public, I will support their punishment under the law, and hope that changes their tiny little minds to the point that they join us in the common understanding of civility that most except a few groups of very dedicated assholes and sociopaths have in common.

I expect my path will probably work just as well as the path of education. Hell, it is an education, and an important one: Assholishness has consequences. We teach that by creating the consequences.

Sympathy? Well, bully on you for having sympathy for the bully. I reserve mine for the victim, who has earned it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:25 PM on April 22, 2010 [9 favorites]


I expect my path will probably work just as well as the path of education.

Authoritative parenting at its best.
posted by polymodus at 1:29 PM on April 22, 2010


I have a cousin who grew up in the U.K. The owners of a certain pub would not let her in; the (Caucasian) friends accompanying her were, indeed, dismayed. By walking out with her (I suppose to find a different place), they demonstrated support and sent a message to the owners.

Not as strong a message as a blast of media exposure and general disapproval from a wider audience, though. Much as was happening here before your bizarre bait and switch approval/disapproval/feather ruffling/faux-argument for or against (I'm still not sure).

It was about a 15 years ago; I'm sure it has gotten "better" since.

"better"? Why in quotes? Surely it would just be better if that didn't happen. With no quotes.

Incidentally, I have never once heard of a bar in the UK discriminating against a patron on race through personal experience during my 30 odd years living in many different areas of the country. Nor have I known anyone who has experienced it. Low level racism, yes, but not from an establishment itself. I suspect that your example was a very unusual occurrence and I'm sure greater awareness would have ensured a solution.
posted by Brockles at 1:31 PM on April 22, 2010


I'm not their parent.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:31 PM on April 22, 2010


I cam to respect him very much, even though he continued to blow hard against my rookie colleagues and say stupid racist things that somewhere he must have believed. He did it just to put them off guard, to protect his own vulnerabilities and mask his fear. I cam to respect what lay beneath the opinion, which was a real fear that land claims would ruin his logging operation. I dismissed the racism but respected Bob and what was really at stake for him. And I think he came to respect me too.
salishea 2010-03-15-1104
posted by polymodus at 1:33 PM on April 22, 2010


I'm not their parent.

No. But I'm pointing out that your approach is questionable for the same reasons.
posted by polymodus at 1:36 PM on April 22, 2010


"better"? Why in quotes?

Just being wary of making value judgements. Nothing sinister about it. :)
posted by polymodus at 1:39 PM on April 22, 2010


That thread was about how to get along with somebody whose opinion you share, which is nice. But I'm not looking to make friends with this business owner.

You seem to be infantalizing them, by treating them as some childlike backwards Alaskan hick who don't know no better, and just needs our patient, caring, parental education to see the light. I prefer to treat them as an educated adult who has made a decision -- a business decision -- as an adult, and is prepared for the consequences of that decision.

And you seem to be under the perplexing idea that people act of of ignorance. But this business owner knew she was wrong -- watch her story change. She made a decision she was hoping nobody would call her on, and she made the decision out of convenience and stupidity and prejudice and a myriad of other elements that all add up to one sum: a bad way to run a business. People don't just deserve to be business owners. They get to be business owners by doing the work, and doing it well, and even then they often don't succeed. She'd doing it poorly, she's building racism into her very business structure, and the consequences may well be that she loses the business.

It's the way life teaches us lessons. At her age, she should have learned them already.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:43 PM on April 22, 2010 [11 favorites]


No. But I'm pointing out that your approach is questionable for the same reasons.

No you aren't. Maybe you think it's a valid comparison, but something isn't just like something else because you say it's so.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:44 PM on April 22, 2010


polymodus, this would be a more interesting conversation if you stopped replying to everyone as if this were a discussion between you and the entirety of mefi.
posted by idiopath at 1:51 PM on April 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


[polymodus, people arguing with polymodus: please cool it. Take a walk or something. polymodus in particular, do so. You're being way too hyper-responsive in here and making the thread about you, and that needs to stop pronto.]
posted by cortex at 1:52 PM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


That thread was about how to get along with somebody whose opinion you share, which is nice. But I'm not looking to make friends with this business owner.


No. salishea specifically told a story about how to find common ground. My first two posts were posed questions in towards this--I should have anticipated the very overreaction of replies.

And to your other concern of " educated adult who has made a decision "—she isn't in fact educated like you and me, and that is fine. Decisions and free will is problematic too.
posted by polymodus at 1:52 PM on April 22, 2010


this would be a more interesting conversation if you stopped replying to everyone as if this were a discussion between you and the entirety of mefi.

That's a beautiful way of saying it. Reply to ideas and not at people.
posted by stoneweaver at 1:54 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry that my earlier comments weren't worded clearly; it's a hard issue to think through.

Then you might want to step away from the keyboard, get some fresh air, and think about it for a while instead of compulsively replying every 30 seconds to everything said.

You're not helping your case with the endless stream of vapid bon mots. You're contributing a lot of noise, very little signal, and would benefit from taking a little break to reflect on what some other people in this thread have to contribute, and forming a reply more than five words long that actually reflects some of the thought and care that other people are putting into their responses.

I'm assuming good faith: if you really want to stand by your rapidly vacillating position, give yourself an opportunity to figure out what it is, take other people's thoughts on board, and have a conversation. For somebody who opines about how important it is to be understanding and charitable, the Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions approach doesn't indicate a lot of respect, understanding or charity for the people taking time to contribute here.
posted by Shepherd at 2:03 PM on April 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


Thanks, AZ, that was the issue I was just about to raise. Any version of "s/he doesn't know any better" might be compassionate, but it is also condescending. It creates the illusion of empathy and understanding by underestimating the person's cognitive capacities and social literacy.
posted by LMGM at 2:13 PM on April 22, 2010


I lived in Alaska for 3 months, and although I can't say that I'm an expert on the place, I can say that these people are in no way representative of those I met during my short time there -- they were some of then nicest, and most tolerant people I'd ever met.

It's also worth mentioning that Anchorage is an actual city, and houses just under half of the state's total population.
posted by schmod at 2:18 PM on April 22, 2010


Ninety percent of Anchorage's adults have high-school diplomas, 65 percent have attended one to three years of college, and 17 percent hold advanced degrees. It's the third wealthiest city in America.

she isn't in fact educated like you and me, and that is fine.

Statistically, she should be better educated than me.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:50 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


A bit of pedantry from an Anchorage resident:

"educated like you and I"
"better educated than I"


Yes, perhaps we are.
posted by stinker at 3:00 PM on April 22, 2010


You know who else is/isn’t a racist?
Non/Racist Hitler.

I don’t know about that false arrest thing. It’s not like the police knew Mitchell wasn’t the bank robber. And from what I read the court didn't find there was discrimination. (Or an actual arrest.)
If there were evidence of that the police should have been nailed. Tough to prove $100,000 worth of intentional infliction of emotional distress without physical evidence. Probably why the judge threw it out.
A “sorry for the trouble ma’am.” wouldn’t have cost anything though.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:06 PM on April 22, 2010


I have no problem with empathy for the criminals in this case. If anybody wants to feel sorry for them, they are welcome to. But surely, part of that compassion should entail a desire for them to learn that many laws actually have quite good reasons for them, that not only must justice be done, but justice must be seen to be done so nobody retains the idea that this is acceptable behaviour, and, ultimately, that all actions, even misguided ones, have consequences. Teaching them all this is surely the kindest thing to do in the long run.

The most horrifying part is the Police's complete lack of reaction. Now there's a group that should know better, if only from a legal standpoint, and it must be quite disconcerting to realise they're as useless as a wolf in a helicopter.
posted by Sparx at 3:09 PM on April 22, 2010


Alaskan Racists for some, miniature american flags for everyone else?
posted by blue_beetle at 3:21 PM on April 22, 2010


It astonishes me that people are actually defending this monster.
posted by kafziel at 3:21 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


The most horrifying part is the Police's complete lack of reaction.

Yes. Ok.

Now there's a group that should know better,

aaaand you lost me.
posted by regicide is good for you at 3:32 PM on April 22, 2010



I'm not world's remedial civil rights tutor. I see a bully denying somebody their rights, I'm not going to whip out a textbook. I will deny them my money as a customer, I will mock them in public, I will support their punishment under the law, and hope that changes their tiny little minds to the point that they join us in the common understanding of civility that most except a few groups of very dedicated assholes and sociopaths have in common.

We all want to live in a world where individuals are freed from unfair prejudice. However, in my experience, this closed-minded punitive attitude is extremely impractical at building the open-minded world that we both seek.

If you really valued the spiritual development of racists, you would not describe them as having "tiny little minds," just as if you would not say the same about developmentally challenged students one might educate. To really believe in the education of another, you have to recognize her humanity. It's easy to be dismissive in the face of behaviour you consider evil, but if you do, you end any hope of remediating it.

I expect my path will probably work just as well as the path of education. Hell, it is an education, and an important one: Assholishness has consequences. We teach that by creating the consequences.

That doesn't work. No more than throwing eleven-year-olds in jail is rehabilitation. Punishment can be one component of remediation, but then its only purpose is to punctuate a person's life -- so they can maybe think "a-ha, perhaps I am behaving badly?" -- and then to give them time to think that through.

With punishment alone, and no procedure for spiritual development, you end up with people maintaining their wrong-headed beliefs, but learning to avoid the sanctions, which they will only consider unfair. You end up with "closet racism". (And a gang of closet-racism-detectives trying to root them out for further punishment!)

Sympathy? Well, bully on you for having sympathy for the bully. I reserve mine for the victim, who has earned it.


When there is injustice, we are all victims. It is easy to dismiss the bully as worthy of nothing but the bayonet, but rather it's the injustice that we have to set our guns upon. That means understanding its roots in the psychologies of its perpetrators and then looking to build shared experience, and finally a dialectic. In my experience, that works. The world can be made better, but it takes intellectual patience and hard work from "us", which is, ironically, what we're asking of "them".
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 3:48 PM on April 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


polymodus, we talk with one another here, we do not talk @ them. Please don't do that @ thing any more. kthxbye.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:51 PM on April 22, 2010


Sorry that my earlier comments weren't worded clearly; it's a hard issue to think through.

@ericthegardener: Perhaps you simply haven't thought carefully enough.


Someone certainly hasn't thought carefully enough before posting. And kind of like the bar owner, is now scrabbling to make excuses and diversions, instead of admitting they screwed it up and moving on.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:57 PM on April 22, 2010


Someone certainly hasn't thought carefully enough before posting. And kind of like the bar owner, is now scrabbling to make excuses and diversions, instead of admitting they screwed it up and moving on.

What are you talking about?
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 4:02 PM on April 22, 2010


Heh, this is a pretty cool story. So there's a little Pacific Islander diaspora up in Alaska. The locals freak out and aren't cool to them. That sounds pretty natural to me and I wouldn't exactly call it racism. While of course it is, literally, there's more to the story.

(New or different always causes a little trepidation, especially in this case when the locals may have seen what a burly Islander can do in a bar fight.)

I wouldn't be surprised at all if, after a while, they would all be exchanging recipes and stories.

And beer.
posted by snsranch at 4:35 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


When there is injustice, we are all victims. It is easy to dismiss the bully as worthy of nothing but the bayonet, but rather it's the injustice that we have to set our guns upon. That means understanding its roots in the psychologies of its perpetrators and then looking to build shared experience, and finally a dialectic.

Agreed. But it really feels like you're setting up a decidedly false dichotomy between "raise consciousness" and "enforce anti-discrimination laws." They are not exclusive. They can be done at the same time. They have different ends.

In the long term, yes, we want people to be freed of restrictive and xenophobic ways of thinking that lead to racist behaviour, and we should work toward that. But in the short term, people also shouldn't be kept out of bars because of their skin colour. And the implication you seem to be making - that being rushed along in one's development into a real, actual 21st century person is somehow an equal injustice to being denied basic freedom of association - is troubling.

If we just held off on enforcing equality under the law til every last bigot has finished therapy, I'm not sure if we'd even have women voters or non-segregated water fountains yet. A huge part of that development into more thoughtful, open people is having to sometimes shut up and deal with being around people who are different than you. Change is uncomfortable. But still far less uncomfortable than being on the business end of straight-up oppressive behaviour.

And I apologize if I'm reacting to things you're not actually meaning to say yourself, esprit de l'escalier; I don't know you, and I'm responding in context of all the comments trying to equalize the hardships experienced here.
posted by regicide is good for you at 4:40 PM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Agreed. But it really feels like you're setting up a decidedly false dichotomy between "raise consciousness" and "enforce anti-discrimination laws." They are not exclusive. They can be done at the same time. They have different ends.

In the long term, yes, we want people to be freed of restrictive and xenophobic ways of thinking that lead to racist behaviour, and we should work toward that. But in the short term, people also shouldn't be kept out of bars because of their skin colour. And the implication you seem to be making - that being rushed along in one's development into a real, actual 21st century person is somehow an equal injustice to being denied basic freedom of association - is troubling.

If we just held off on enforcing equality under the law til every last bigot has finished therapy, I'm not sure if we'd even have women voters or non-segregated water fountains yet. A huge part of that development into more thoughtful, open people is having to sometimes shut up and deal with being around people who are different than you. Change is uncomfortable. But still far less uncomfortable than being on the business end of straight-up oppressive behaviour.


Yes, that's a good point.

Thanks for taking the time to understand what I wrote.

I agree with you about there having to be legal ramifications. In fact, I said "punishment can be one component of remediation". I never meant to imply that we should "hold off on enforcing the law".
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 4:59 PM on April 22, 2010


...I meant to say that punishment alone is a poor spiritual guide. I dream of a world wealthy enough that jails are staffed with armies of therapists.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 5:03 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I dream of a world where there are no jails, and very few therapists... but I guess your dream is a pretty good intermediary step ;)
posted by regicide is good for you at 5:05 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Man, those Samoans are a surly bunch.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:33 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nice derail!

Anyway, the answer is ASK FOR IDs. If you must, write down the list of people who come in. It's not that fucking hard dude. Then you can remember, generally, who fucked up your bar.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:38 PM on April 22, 2010


This bartender probably had an Alaskan high-school education. Put yourself in her shoes—If a cultural sample comes into your bar last week and upturn your place of business, and sample of the same culture returns the following—how would you feel, and what is your response.
We have laws for a reason, and racial discrimination is illegal. It doesn't matter how you "feel". But you know, I think it's pretty unlikely I would turn into a racist because some people got into a fight in my bar.


--
After reading the rest of the thread, what is this crap about "understanding" and "guiding" these people towards a more enlightened mindset?

Why should they be afforded the luxury of doing whatever they want on their "journey of self discovery" while at the same time denying other people their rights? That's idiotic.

Seriously, who cares if they become enlightened or not? I mean, screw these people. Why should I care how they feel?
posted by delmoi at 6:32 PM on April 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Because on solely practical grounds, trying to change things for the better without trying to understand and influence what's making it worse is a pretty obviously losing strategy?
posted by regicide is good for you at 7:42 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also: say the phrase "President George W. Bush" and see how it makes you feel.

He was elected. (Or, at least, he had enough real live supporters across the country that he could get away with stealing the election.) This is a problem.
posted by regicide is good for you at 7:47 PM on April 22, 2010


Why should they be afforded the luxury of doing whatever they want on their "journey of self discovery" while at the same time denying other people their rights? That's idiotic.

Racism is not a luxury afforded to people like fine wine or cheese. It's not something fun you get to do. There's plenty of suffering waiting for her when she realizes the magnitude of what she's done. In the meantime, there's the law -- we agree on that.

But, the problem isn't one racist lady that you can arrest and strip of power. If only it were so simple. Instead, she's part of a sea of people just as intellectually lazy as herself. And you are left trying to catch them individually doing something illegal -- you are left playing racist whack-a-mole. After a while, you get to a point where people only express their racism insidiously, and you can't prove anything. How do you change them now?

Seriously, who cares if they become enlightened or not? I mean, screw these people. Why should I care how they feel?

Because their feelings are the causes of their actions, and their actions ultimately affect you. Caring about their feelings opens the possibility of real, fundamental change.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 7:48 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think we need to draw a distinction between discrimination and the right of choosing not to associate. I see no reason why an owner of a business should not be able to choose who and who does not enter his establishment, whether because of a random whim or some hate, justified or unjustified, of a certain category of people. I observe here, however, that a lot of people put such acts (or the lack of such) into the category of violating someone's rights based on being part of a certain category.

I think the first thing we need to remember is that people have rights as individuals, not groups. We need to look at whether or not an individual's right is being violated. In cases like this, we see the act of an owner of a business refusing to associate with an individual. This individual has no more right to enter the establishment against the owner's will, than the owner has the right to enter the individual's property against his will. I do not see how concepts such as these suddenly change when one talks of businesses. We must also remember that there is a difference between private business and public business.

I understand that a public business should not whimsically refuse access to people based some kind of group criterion. It would be against the rights of the people whom the government is said to represent; against the rights of the people who pay their taxes in the expectation of such a thing not happening. This is of course not the case in private enterprise. I don't see that a contract necessarily exists between the owner and the individual for any type of association or service whatever unless previously agreed upon by both parties.

I wish that people could see this distinction and learn to get along.
posted by jpcooper at 4:13 AM on April 23, 2010


Man, those Samoans are a surly bunch.

For reference....
posted by zarq at 4:44 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Caring about their feelings opens the possibility of real, fundamental change.

Yeah, in my experience, not as effectively as prosecution. You wanna go the route of education and understanding, by all means, but there's value in punitive responses as well, and they are be completely disregarded here, because, I don't know, somebody didn't like how mean their father was or something. I had a hard time following the argument against making people responsible for their actions, mostly because there wasn't one.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:46 AM on April 23, 2010


I see no reason why an owner of a business should not be able to choose who and who does not enter his establishment

Fifty years of constitutional jurisprudence says so.
posted by miss tea at 5:18 AM on April 23, 2010


I see no reason why an owner of a business should not be able to choose who and who does not enter his establishment

Because starting a business does not mean you have started a private island where there is no law except what you create. Do you also wonder why business owners can't put rat poison in their food or shoot rifles randomly at their employees.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:24 AM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


By law, businesses hat are open to the public may not discriminate protected groups (including race and descent).
From Findlaw:
Discrimination in Public Accommodations
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
What is a Public Accommodation?

Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination against certain protected groups in businesses and places that are considered "public accommodations." The definition of a "public accommodation" may vary depending upon the law at issue (i.e. federal or state), and the type of discrimination involved (i.e. race discrimination or disability discrimination). Generally speaking, it may help to think of public accommodations as,I most (but not all) businesses or buildings that are open to (or offer services to) the general public. More specifically, the definition of a "public accommodation" can be broken down into two types of businesses / facilities:

Government-owned/operated facilities, services, and buildings
Privately-owned/operated businesses, services, and buildings

--snip government related info---
Privately-owned/operated businesses and buildings. Privately-owned businesses and facilities that offer certain goods or services to the public -- including food, lodging, gasoline, and entertainment -- are considered public accommodations for purposes of federal and state anti-discrimination laws. For purposes of disability discrimination, the definition of a "public accommodation" is even more broad, encompassing most businesses that are open to the public (regardless of type).

---------------------

As you can see, the bar owner does not have a right to discriminate the way she did. While I may understand that she is probably ignorant, there are laws that must be followed. Sometimes you must force people to act in certain ways to ensure basic rights for all citizens Sometimes forcing them to accept all people will educate them that the "other" is not one gerneral group full of scary people.
posted by Librarygeek at 5:38 AM on April 23, 2010


Because starting a business does not mean you have started a private island where there is no law except what you create. Do you also wonder why business owners can't put rat poison in their food or shoot rifles randomly at their employees.

You are blatantly misrepresenting what I've written. Putting rat poison in someone's food or shooting an employee would clearly be a violation of his individual rights. Refusing entry to property is not.

On the post on public accommodation:

In U.S. law, is refusing entry seen as discrimination? If this is the case, do you think that this is in fact morally justified?
posted by jpcooper at 7:17 AM on April 23, 2010


In U.S. law, is refusing entry seen as discrimination?

Yes. Absolutely.

If this is the case, do you think that this is in fact morally justified?

Yes. Absolutely.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:28 AM on April 23, 2010


What is the difference between a public business and a private enterprise, in your mind?

Anyway, I don't even care if it is wrong in your particular worldview, I think banning people from your business because of their race should be illegal. I have no problem with laws that affect people's use of their own property.

In fact, I am a huge fan of laws that affect people's use of their own property. Especially property that is open to the public.

They're like:

"Hey come on in public!"

and I'm like

"Don't mind if I do! Hey, my money and I come with a system of laws and regulations designed to protect me!"
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:47 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Refusing entry to property is not.

Denying entry based on race? Absolutely yes it would be. If you don't understand this, I would strongly advise against starting a business.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:12 AM on April 23, 2010


Denying entry based on race? Absolutely yes it would be. If you don't understand this, I would strongly advise against starting a business.

Denying entry is once again at an individual level. As I said before, groups don't suddenly gain rights which individual-wise do not exist. Denying entry based on race is merely denying entry to an individual because he is part of a certain category. I believe, as said before, that this denial is not a violation of this individual's rights such as right to live, jurisdiction over his own home providing that he doesn't violate the rights of others while inside it, etc. Is there any difference between denying entry based on an individual's race, and denying entry to a nude person? Does the nude person have a difference in rights to the black person?

I think that talking about my understanding or misunderstanding of something like this is contradictory. I am looking for a justification as to why you think that it would be a violation of rights. The violation of which right of an individual, exactly, would it be? Would your justification agree with the denial of an individual's entry into one's home based on the individual's race not being a violation of the individual's rights?
posted by jpcooper at 10:24 AM on April 23, 2010


The right of an individual to not be discriminated against based on race

Also, a home is not a business
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:27 AM on April 23, 2010


I am not sure why you think rights exist only for individuals, rather than also existing for groups. Unless you're engaged in some Objectivist blather that there are no such things as group rights, which, I assure you, is not only intellectually bankrupt, but not US law.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:37 AM on April 23, 2010


Does the nude person have a difference in rights to the black person?

Do you really not see the difference between an optional behavior and an inborn identity?
posted by desjardins at 10:55 AM on April 23, 2010


desjardins: if they wanted in, they could have left their Samoanyness at home.

jpcooper: the illegality of discriminating against clientèle based on race dates back to the overturning of Jim Crow, and was a large part of the basis of the modern civil rights movement.
posted by idiopath at 11:01 AM on April 23, 2010


And now I realize my intent may be unclear: I am in fact in favor of laws preventing businesses from discriminating on the basis of race, as much as I am in favor of any law, and as much as I could call anything "moral", yes I think that is moral.
posted by idiopath at 11:09 AM on April 23, 2010


I see no reason why an owner of a business should not be able to choose who and who does not enter his establishment, whether because of a random whim or some hate, justified or unjustified, of a certain category of people.

Putting an end to racism &c requires bullying the ignorant and stupid into complying with the greater social norm. Racism and sexism is taught, becomes generational, and then becomes society's nightmare.

All positive social change is acquired by forcing douchebags to comply. It may be a "violation" of those individuals' "right" to be douchebag-ists, but the overall benefit to our society is so great that it takes precedence.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:44 AM on April 23, 2010


If the ignorant can be taught to change for the better, then our victory would be all the sweeter. Nor is bullying necessary in a civilized society, because the hand of law itself strives to be impartial. Censure is still cruelty, regardless of who it is directed at.

Besides, who am I to judge what choices are better for greater society? Both 20th and 21st century psychological research provides ample evidence that as individuals, we don't even rationally comprehend our own wants and desires.
posted by polymodus at 1:22 PM on April 23, 2010


No, censure and cruelty are not the same thing.

Nor are humane legal consequences for discrimination bullying.

The way that you talk about making something better for "greater society" in the abstract indicates that you have probably never been the victim of significant racial discrimination. Perhaps you should seek out information about the negative effects of, say, segregation, as related by those who were its victims. That might make this abstract issue more clear to you, as you seem to have trouble relating it to real, actual people.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:33 PM on April 23, 2010


Also, here, maybe that will get you started if you need objective facts, I'm not going to go looking for much more because it is boring for me and pretty "duh" as someone who has actually been on the receiving end of racism.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:35 PM on April 23, 2010


Censure is a type of cruelty. There are gradations of cruelty; I reject all cruelty at corresponding degrees. Just as in civil interactions there is a notion of constructive and destructive criticism. Bullying the Other into compliance is on the destructive end of the spectrum, as well.

The amount of personal suffering does not give one license to vengeance or vindictiveness. Everyone suffers, and I do speak this as a member of more than one type of minority.
posted by polymodus at 1:47 PM on April 23, 2010


If the ignorant can be taught to change for the better, then our victory would be all the sweeter.

I think I see the flaw in your thinking. You believe the problem is that people who do this are ignorant, and they just need some compassion to come around to our standard of education. In some cases, this may be true.

In man, man cases, the people have made a pretty active decision to be hateful, and have made great effort to miseducate themselves. And it's not because they live in some benighted state -- it is, instead out of petty self-interest. It makes their world just a little easier to be a little bit hateful, as with this business owner, who couldn't be bothered to, say, hire security or up their insurance to cover the occasional unruly customer, but instead decided to do the easy thing -- to target an entire group for blame, and exclude them all, because, I don't know, she was lazy and cheap, or whatever her motivations were.

I've known racists, and consistently I have found their motivation not to be innocence, but to be selfishness, and power, and jealousy, and a plethora of unpleasantness that comes from the dark side of people's souls, and they have given themselves permission for that unpleasantness, because it benefits them, and they have sought justification for that unpleasantness, because it makes them feel better about being bad. So they're not uneducated. They're deliberately miseducated, and they will generally stick to that miseducation, because they keep the benefit. Not always, of course -- your way of education might reach a few. But the larger majority are reached by taking away the benefit, or making the negative repercussions less desirable than the benefits. Note that Martin Luther King's activism frequently took the form of protests, which are not educational, but are, for the most part, designed to publicize and humiliate people who are doing wrong, and change them in that way. He participated in a bus boycott -- the intention there was to punish racist behavior economically.

Without addressing the benefit of racism, and without removing it, people are disinclined to be nice to each other. Selfishness and self-interest motivates a lot of evil in this world, and we can't merely educate it away as long as people benefit from it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:48 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, it's actually not a type of cruelty at all. Also, your definition of bullying is wrong.

OK, well, maybe as a member of more than one type of minority you might see why you should be allowed to stay in any hotel you want without being humiliated and being made to find new accommodations at the last minute, as one example of the positive benefits of anti-discrimination laws.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:49 PM on April 23, 2010


man, man should read "many, many."
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:49 PM on April 23, 2010


Bullying the Other into compliance is on the destructive end of the spectrum, as well.

Expecting business owners to be accountable when they do not uphold the law is about the farthest thing from bullying I can imagine. Bullying is using threats to get something that you don't deserve. The people who were denied entry to Asian Garden? They totally deserved to be there. And their tactics seem totally above board with regards to how they are going about getting the thing that they deserve to have.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:11 PM on April 23, 2010


The amount of personal suffering does not give one license to vengeance or vindictiveness.

It is not vengeful or vindictive to enforce the law in an impartial manner. The law is that business owners cannot discriminate based on race (and other protected categories). The bar owner broke the law. Applying consequences for that is just cause and effect, not cruelty.
posted by desjardins at 2:38 PM on April 23, 2010


Besides, who am I to judge what choices are better for greater society? Both 20th and 21st century psychological research provides ample evidence that as individuals, we don't even rationally comprehend our own wants and desires.

That's a cop out.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:07 PM on April 23, 2010


It's all a cop out. So wishywashy as to be inactionable. We'll inform bigots so well, that they will quit hating. Riiiight.

Informing against hatred hasn't worked in over 2000 years. Laying down secular law based on equality rights has.

If anything, we need more laws to force bigots to respect others. Equal rights for all.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:27 PM on April 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Maaaan. What's with all the defenders of racism?

--
Denying entry is once again at an individual level. As I said before, groups don't suddenly gain rights which individual-wise do not exist.
In America, they do.
Denying entry based on race is merely denying entry to an individual because he is part of a certain category.
This is correct.
I believe, as said before, that this denial is not a violation of this individual's rights such as right to live
Maybe not, but if the discrimination is on the basis of being a member of a protected class then it is, in fact, illegal. People in the U.S. have a right not to be discriminated against on the basis of being in a protected class. That's the law. You might not like it, but who cares? The law isn't changing any time soon. BTW, protected classes are innumerated. You can discriminate against nude people, or fat people or ugly people, but not people based on Race, disability, gender, etc.
posted by delmoi at 10:19 AM on April 24, 2010


I don't think he's actually arguing about law.

That doesn't make him any the less wrong, but it moots arguments based on what the law states.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:21 AM on April 24, 2010


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