Monday, November 03, 2008

Reality: It's okay to hang a white woman in effigy but not a black man

In a world that was based on equal treatment, if it was okay to hang the effigy of a white president as well as burn it, which has happened many times during the course of the Bush presidency, it would be okay to hang in effigy a white female vice presidential candidate, and it would be okay to hang in effigy a black male presidential candidate. They would all be considered forms of political protest and covered under our freedom of speech that many believe exists.

That would transcend being a hate crime since it is political in nature and would be treated differently than non-political speech, an example, if I hung from my front tree an effigy of a non-political black person, as one man did a few years ago in Ohio, when he put a noose around a statue of a black lawn jockey, people generally thought that was inappropriate and racist. My doing so would also be considered generally inappropriate and racist, especially if a black family had just moved into my neighborhood, that could be viewed as a hate crime/hate threat.

One of the things I pondered is what is going to happen if Obama does win? On one side this election has been trumpeted as the historic first of having a black man become President. Yet on the other side, the double standard that relates to freedom of political protest/speech has become very clear. You can do this if it's a white candidate/elected official, but you can't do that if it is a black candidate/elected official.

Should Obama win, this is something that will not be able to be avoided. Only the very idealistic believe that Obama as president will be well received everywhere in the world, will those who protest against the government with the president of the symbol of that protest here and abroad face the labeling of hate crimes for what is acceptable with a white male or female?

The Slippery Slope of this double standard where it is acceptable to demonstrate hatred, bias and discrimination towards women is firmly in place. As long as women continue to accept it and do nothing? It will continue and there will be a continued double standard as to the First Amendment...


The News Writer said...

The problem is this country's history of lynch mobs and the noose as a symbol, rightly or wrongly, of the oppression of black Americans. And honestly, can you look at the folks doing the hanging of Obama in effigy, listen to their words, and say they are doing so purely as a political protest? I doubt most of 'em have ever even heard the word "effigy" before.

I'm personally not into hanging anybody in effigy. It may be a time honored political protest, but it's an expression of violence regardless, and I reject that. Period.

But really, if political protesters in other countries, which don't have the civil rights history we do, hang Obama in effigy, then that really is a political protest. Unless their words tell you it's not.

But, if Obama wins and there are such protests, there will be those here who scream racism. Those folks will need some education.

As for women, I've seen some clearly sexist protest against Sarah Palin -- the cunt Tshirts, for example, calling her a bad mother, etc. But there are those who call "sexism" against every criticism, just like those who call "racism" against every criticism. Both are wrong.

The hanging of Palin in effigy was tacky and stupid and sophomoric. But hanging Obama in this country is racist.

Lisa Renee said...

I don't disagree with you that hanging anyone in effigy would not be my selected form of political protest, using effigies and burning them as a form of protest including hanging maybe to some hold a racial connotation, but the historical reality is it has existed prior to that.

People seem to forget during the American Revolution as well as other revolutions in the world, this type of political protest happened, as well as tar and feathering people. Ironically one of the very reasons why free speech was so treasured here stems from the fact that it was not allowed by others...

We've heard quite a bit recently that things in America have never been so divided, that also is not true. Both during the American Revolution and the Civil war, some of us not only hated our brother, but tried to kill him...

It's easy to loose your perspective though, I'm guilty of it as well. Which means I also agree with you that education is the key to quite a bit of this.

The News Writer said...

And I don't disagree with you about the long-time historical reality of the effigy. I just think that this country has had a more recent trauma associated with "hanging" and "black people" that trumps the historical hanging in effigy when it comes to African Americans.

Those lynchings are still very much fresh in the minds of people I know, both black and white, both for the horror they represent and for the racism implied in their use. We've just not come far enough in this country for such symbols to return to their more traditional use. And that fact is well known here.

Lisa Renee said...

Yes, that's because many people don't know their history well enough to know that whites were lynched in large numbers in our history. They also forget how women have been victimized through history as well preferring to focus on lynching somehow being seen as just related to blacks.

The reality is more American Indians were killed than African Americans. Whole tribes of men, women and children were slaughtered. In reality there were probably also more white men and Mexicans hung for suspected horse or cattle theft than African Americans. More women die at the hands of a husband or a boyfriend in one year than all of the African Americans who were lynched in thirty years. Then of course the many other cultures who have faced horrendous numbers of death, some at the hands of our own nation or our ancestors...

Which points out the bias in how some interpret hanging or lynching or even genocide as only referring to one particular race.

Rather than try for a more common sense policy of "hatred is bad" we selectively allow some forms of hatred and find a way to justify it while becoming outraged at others, setting even a different standard of what is acceptable under the First Amendment.

Following my ideal and simplistic, if it's wrong it's wrong theory of life, wanting to lynch anyone should be bad, but if we are going to allow lynching in effigy of political figures, than their race should have no bearing on it.

The News Writer said...

I definitely agree with that if it's wrong for one it's wrong for all.

I just think that the bias -- concerning lynching and lynching only -- is the recent-ness of the act. the lynching of black people is very vivid in the memories of a lot of people, still, and that makes a huge difference.

Maybe it makes a huge difference because I'm a child of the American South, too, I dunno. It might be that it's much more vivid here than in Ohio.

The time factor kinda speaks to the issues of horse thieves and even Native Americans, to some extent -- lynchings of black people (as well as whites working for their civil rights) were still taking place in the 1960s, well after the Old West lynchings were put to rest. The image that people were still perpetuating such crimes that late in this country -- and the very specific purpose those lynchings had -- is one that doesn't fade very quickly.

I shouldn't even get started on the genocide of Native Americans or what's happened to women for centuries, because I'll be here all night if I do. I have some theories about why the victimization of women and the genocide of the original people don't cause as much upset, and some of them come from the time factor but not all. That's another story, though.

My point is that I don't think it's as much thinking of lynching having to do with only one race as having lynching that did have to do with that one race being so very recent.

But I do think your "if it's wrong, it's wrong" theory of life is exactly right.

Lisa Renee said...

You being a child of the South and me being a child of the North could very well have something to do with our different reactions to this.

Even historically in Ohio the numbers of lynchings were under 20 for both blacks and whites. We were more known for our role in the Underground Railroad than anything related to the KKK.

Jason R. said...

I'm glad you posted this Lisa!