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Equality and preferential treatment

Although it should go without saying (especially since I make such a disclaimer in the index page), the following is heavily my personal opinion only, and people are free to disagree with it.

Anyways, there seems to be a very widespread notion that equal rights and the protection of minorities are somehow mutually exclusive concepts. This is often summarized with expressions like "the majority doesn't need protection, the minority does" and "the constitution exists to protect minorities from the majority". These sentiments are often actualized with the concepts of so-called "affirmative action" and the almost hilariously oxymoronic "positive discrimination".

This is a big load of BS.

The constitution of a country exists to ensure equal rights to every citizen. Every citizen should have equal rights and be treated equal before the law regardless of things like ethnicity, background, sexual orientation, and so on.

(Note that when I'm talking about "minorities" here, I'm referring to groups of people which are so because of inconsequential reasons with respect to the society, such as ethnicity etc. I'm not talking about people eg. with physical disabilities who may require special treatment and special services for practical reasons.)

The concept that minorities need more protection than the majority is odd. Where exactly is this notion coming from? No, minorities don't need more protection. Minorities need the exact same protection as everybody else, no more, no less. If you give special treatment to one group of people (because of inconsequential reasons such as ethnicity), that's discrimination against the rest.

If the argument is that minorities need more protection because they are usually more likely to be discriminated against, then giving them special treatment (in other words discriminating against the majority as some kind of counter-balancing "compensation") is the wrong solution. Two wrongs don't make a right. You don't fight discrimination with more discrimination. There are many reasons for this, for example:

What I think is happening here with the whole concept of "minorities need more protection" is a fallacy of equivocation. The problem is that the concept can have two different and distinct meanings:

  1. It is more often the case that a minority requires protection. (In other words, if we count the cases where authorities need to step in to protect someone, this number is higher per capita with minorities than with the majority.) In other words, "minorities need more often protection" (rather than special treatment).
  2. Minorities, besides being protected by the same laws as everybody else, need additional laws that apply only to them (ie. "more protection").

I think that, as with many other such cases, these two possible interpretations are confused and interchanged when it's most convenient (intentionally or not). Applying the second meaning in practice is justified by the first meaning, and these two different meanings are being muddled and confused.

However, the second meaning is unconstitutional and against the basic principles of equality and freedom, and even if the first meaning is true, it in no way justifies the second one. However, many people are deliberately interchanging the two meanings as they see fit, even though they are certainly not interchangeable.

Some people argue that minorities need preferential treatment because in a society with different social groups you can either have equal treatment or equal chances, not both (which is why things like student and hiring quotas are necessary). That they are mutually exclusive concepts. I have yet to see a convincing explanation of why this would be so.

If the reason is that this is because of discrimination, then I can only refer to what I said before: Fighting the symptoms is not the correct solution. It only aggravates the problem. In a society that is truly equal and fair to everybody, without preferential treatment based on inconsequential things, there is no need for things like student or hiring quotas. Everybody is treated like everybody else, and everybody has the exact same opportunities.

There's an old adage that says something like: "Two wolves and a rabbit are discussing what to have for dinner. Democracy makes sure that all three of them have a vote. The constitution makes sure that the rabbit is not dinner. The constitution exists to protect the minority from the majority."

No, no, and a thousand times no. This is bullshit, and I cannot repeat that enough. This is an insult to the very foundations of constitutional rights and equality.

The constitution does not exist to protect the minority from the majority. The constitution exists to guarantee the same rights for everybody.

In the comparison above all three individuals would have the same rights and guaranteed protection against being killed. The wolves killing the rabbit would be exactly as illegal and as unconstitutional as the rabbit killing a wolf. The adage makes it sound like the constitution doesn't care if it's the minority (ie. the "rabbit") who kills a member of the majority (a "wolf"), only the other way around. No. Just no.

Sure, the minority being protected from the majority is a side-effect of the basic constitutional rights. However, that doesn't mean the majority does not have the exact same rights and protection, and especially it doesn't mean that the constitution somehow exists specifically to protect the minority. Saying that the constitution exists to protect the minority is wrong and utter bullshit. Saying it is derogatory and devalues the core principles of equality and basic constitutional rights. It's saying that the constitution endorses preferential treatment. This is an insult.

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