Types of prejudice in Britain
Shane Sutton has just resigned as Technical Director of the British Cycling Team, because of things he may have said about and to female and disabled athletes.
And the Labour party is having serious problems over the point at which anti-Zionism becomes (or is rooted in) anti-semitism.
And I notice on Facebook a bizarre and furious US argument over which toilet transgender people (or people who say they are in a transgender process) should be allowed to use. The argument is basically “if you think transgender male-to-female people can’t use the Ladies, you are prejudiced against a vulnerable group” versus “if you allow anyone who says they’re transgender to use the Ladies, you are putting women and children at risk from sexual predators”.
Prejudice and discrimination are the big sins of our society. The Equality Act 2000 lists a number of “protected characteristics”. It is illegal to discriminate against or harass people on the grounds of these characteristics – race, religion, gender, age, pregnancy, marital status, sexuality or disability.
But what is “prejudice”? To be racially prejudiced is surely to believe that some people are of less value than others, and perhaps can be treated as of less value (not quite the same thing), because of their race. Nobody will deny that prejudice on the grounds of race and/or religion has led to some of the most appalling crimes in the history of the human race.
In theory, however, if we forget about the crimes, despising someone for being, say, Chinese or Irish, is surely no more morally wrong than despising someone for being ugly or boring. Are we ever guilty of that sort of prejudice, the sort that’s quite legal? Are we ever tempted to think that one person is of less value than another, or that we don’t need to respect them because, let us say… (list alert!):
- He is grossly overweight.
- She is a vegan.
- He refers to women as “girlies”.
- She does not understand how to use apostrophe’s.
- His book sounds a bit… well, American. (British readers only.)
- She just will not understand about the cloud.
- He is annoyingly extrovert, especially in the morning. (This is a very old one. See Proverbs 27:14.)
- She likes to listen to Cliff Richard/Justin Timberlake.
- He is Cliff Richard/Justin Timberlake.
- She has more nose piercings than nose.
- He has four children by three separate mothers.
- She has 2.4 well-behaved children, a happy marriage and a beautiful house and garden, is always well-dressed and smiles at everyone.
- He rang me up from India to ask me to give my valued opinion in a survey. (I have a problem with this one.)
- Her face, I’m sorry, but it’s grotesque.
- He votes for the BNP.
- She doesn’t vote at all.
- He doesn’t think the 2nd Letter to Timothy was written by St Paul.
- She believes (tee hee) that God made the world in seven days.
- He supports Derby County.
- She is in prison for injuring her children.
- He never picks up a book at home.
- She is selling the Big Issue.
- He ought to be selling the Big Issue, but instead is begging, and in an Eastern European accent.
- She tells the same boring anecdotes every time I meet her.
- He dislikes me.
I’m not saying that all these traits are equally admirable, or admirable at all. But they don’t stop people being human.
There isn’t a law against these kinds of prejudice. But people can still be hurt, or overlooked. By nice people like you and me.
Or maybe just me.
Love from the PPI (Partial, Prejudiced and Ignorant) Blogger
PS Possibility of a publishing contract on the cards!! Watch this space!