Discrimination and Favoritism in Public Policy



March 19, 2010

By Neil Dykstra (Langley ARPA) Writing for

Nothing fosters hatred more than favoritism, real or perceived. If you have siblings, you’ve probably experienced some measure of this yourself during your childhood. On a larger scale, wars have often erupted over perceived unfair advantages of one identifiable group over another. The caste system in India, apartheid in South Africa, and the Muslim practice of jizya (a tax on unbelievers), are several modern examples of organized discrimination.

Much more pervasive is our inborn tendency to notice and categorize deviations from our constructed norms. For example, children as young as 3 are already noticing racial differences. When combined with socialization from a society that routinely makes categorical distinctions between races, this can be a toxic mix.

Unfortunately, the powers that be in Canada have determined that the first step to deal with the problem of discrimination is not to remove from government the culture of recognizing differences between groups. Instead, we have inherited an ideology of multiculturalism, one that encourages the categorization of people into groups. Even further, their answer to the general societal discrimination, passed down from generation to generation, is countervailing discrimination through the state. Combat racism with state-sanctioned racism, sexism with institutionalized sexism, “homophobia” with government-funded intolerance.

That’s about the same as treating a bullet wound in your leg by shooting the other one. Affirmative action is still discrimination. The fact that it is done by do-gooders, possibly with the best of intentions, doesn’t justify the means.

Our laws are not immune to embedded discrimination, despite constitutional guarantees. The Canadian Charter’s equality-before-the-law provisions in Section 15(1) were nullified by the addition of Section 15(2) in 1982, which exempts the state from any discriminatory action that could be perceived to ameliorate disadvantages of particular groups. The United States 14th amendment guarantees that the government treats all US citizens equally, but this has also been largely ignored.

In Canada, we have state-sanctioned discrimination within our Criminal Code. During sentencing, judges are instructed to show partiality to those with Aboriginal heritage. In addition, Sections 318 and 319 use the ambiguous term “identifiable group”, one which has been continually redefined to give special protections to some but not to others.

In the United States, we now have the Matthew Shepherd and James Byrd Jr Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which greatly expands a limited and little-used federal civil rights act. Previously, the states handled supposed “hate” crimes with their own laws and investigative bodies. With this new act, the resources of the federal government can be brought to bear on any crime perceived to be motivated by “hate” or “bias” towards those privileged groups of people deemed “vulnerable”.

Federal investigators are now able to interrogate and even charge anyone who utters discriminatory speech that is related to a crime. For example, a pastor who preaches from the pulpit that the homosexual lifestyle is a sin can be charged as accessory to a murder if one of his congregants goes off the deep end and murders a gay person. You can understand the considerable chilling effect this will have on free speech.

What will this accomplish for the “protected” groups? Overt discrimination of this sort, endowed with the power of the state, divides people into categories of haves and have-nots. In a nation such as America that was founded on the duty of armed resistance to tyranny, trying to prevent violence through tyrannical means is a recipe for disaster. Furthermore, as research repeatedly proves, discriminatory attitudes in children develop as a result of the categorization in society and in the home.

United States Congressman Todd Akin rightly stated that special prosecutions for so-called “hate crimes” are inherently divisive. “[This new hate crimes law] increases hatred in America… The law violates the most basic principle of law.  Lady Justice is always supposed to have a blindfold across her face because, regardless of who you are when you appear before Lady Justice… Lady Justice does not notice.  [The new hate crimes law] violates that basic principle.  It creates animosity by elevating one group over another group; thus, it creates hatred.”

Until our governments completely abandon categorizations, and instead adhere to the principle of equality before the law, the hatred they seek to destroy will only multiply.

Neil Dykstra lives in Langley, BC and works in the pharmaceutical industry. A graduate from Trinity Western University, he leads a local chapter of the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA). He takes particular interest in matters relating to freedom of religion and expression.

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