Friday, February 27, 2015

The 'Power Dynamic' Definition of Racism Fails to Anticipate Changes in Political Status Quo

Stuart K. Hayashi 

I think that any form of prejudice against a group of people based on race, counts as racism. This means that even if white people are richer and more politically powerful than I am, I am still capable of being racist against whites.  However, numerous politically-correct activists, including Feminist Frequency producer Jonathan McIntosh and critic "Movie" Bob Chipman, advance what they consider a superior definition of racism.

 They say that the definition of racism is not merely unjustified generalizations about an entire genetic/racial grouping, but also a power dynamic. They say racism, by definition, is the racial group in a position of power acting in such a way as to keep other racial groups down, with such hostility running the gamut from relatively minor "microaggressive" condescension to outright violence.
According to that definition, by analytic logic alone we are to presume that  there can be no racism against white people in the West.

On Twitter, "Movie" Bob says, "BIGOTRY against white people exists. RACISM describes bigotry translated to a functioning power dynamic... . . . such a thing does not meaningfully exist against white people."

This "power dynamic" definition is intended to score political points for activists who want to shame people for being white and/or being born into wealth, but it does not help anyone combat racial violence.  The reason is that people who say that racial violence is caused only by some racial group in power happen to ignore that, because political change is possible, it is entirely possible for there to be dangerous racial hatred against Group X even if Group X is presently wealthier and/or even has more members in government than other groups. 

Consider the position of Jews in Germany throughout the first half of the twentieth century. A common complaint that the Volkish movement made was that Jews, despite being a minority widely disliked, tended to become richer and even more politically powerful than Aryans. If it is true that one cannot be racist against a group that is supposedly richer and more powerful than the other groups, then, by that twisted logic, it would be impossible to be racist against Jews in the Weimar Republic.

If this "power dynamic" definition of racism were the correct one, then it would seem that the Nazis' anti-Semitic prejudices were somehow non-racist during the 1920s and only became racist once Hitler was chancellor. The fact is that this prejudice was dangerous the entire time, regardless of whether Jews were so much richer than other groups in the Weimar period.

 The "power dynamic" definition of racism fails because it doesn't account for the fact that a race that supposedly hogs all the wealth and political power can actually lose that political power and be targeted by the State for abuse.

If Group X supposedly has more wealth and officeholders than Group Y, it is counterproductive to do as McIntosh and Movie Bob do, and say that Group X's prejudice against Y is horrendous racism whereas anything prejudiced that Y does against X is somehow less bad.  If Group Y nurses seething hatred for Group X, then if political fortunes change and Group Y gets into power, Group Y can be just as cruel and unjust toward members of X as members of X once were toward Y.  

Therefore, rather than wrangling over which group is richer and more powerful than which, it would be best to discourage any animosity toward any racial collective and instead to judge persons on individual merit. 

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Holding Unvaccinated Households Civilly Liable for Transmitting Pathogens Would Incentivize Vaccination

Stuart K. Hayashi

Instead of having command-and-control mandates forcing everyone to be vaccinated, I think individuals should be able to be held civilly liable if they transmit diseases that they could have been vaccinated against.

For example, if I refuse to have my household vaccinated for measles, and then my child contracts measles and inadvertently transmit it to your child, that is an inadvertent initiation of the use of force against your household, just as it would be if I drove recklessly and hit you with my car. Therefore, you should be able to file a lawsuit against my estate for damages, such as the medical expenses my household's transmission of measles imposed on you.

And having been vaccinated would serve as a legal defense. That is, if someone was vaccinated for measles and I tried to sue that person's household anyway for having transmitted measles to my child, the respondent could defend against my suit in court by pointing out that his or her own household has already been vaccinated. Therefore, we wouldn't have a command-and-control mandate forcing vaccination but vaccination would still be incentivized.

Some people have told me that they don't like my idea because it's too difficult to prove Person A transmitted a specific virus to Person B. But bioethicist Arthur Caplan has pointed out that officials at the CDC are actually improving in the ability to pinpoint the source of an epidemic.

It might be difficult for them to prove who gave who the flu, but they have identified Patient Zero in the case of the Disneyland measles outbreak and they have identified Patient Zero in the case of the recent ebola outbreak. Therefore, as Dr. Caplan has argued, this idea has more scientific plausibility than critics are giving it credit for .

Now, when it comes to liability, there is an issue of whether the exact person who transmitted the pathogen is a minor or legal adult.  If I refuse to have my kid vaccinated for measles, and my kid gives another kid measles, then, as long as my child remains a minor, I am the one held liable. However, if my kid was never vaccinated, and then grows into an adult and gives measles to a kid, then my son or daughter -- now being an adult -- is the one who can be held liable. 

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

How to Achieve High Vaccination Rates Without Forcing a Command-and-Control Vaccination Edict on Everyone

Stuart K. Hayashi

 I think that people are trying to make vaccination a binary issue, where either we have command-and-control mandates that everyone be vaccinated, or the State leaves people be free to avoid vaccination and thus contribute to the risk of spreading measles. I think that there can be an individualist solution -- for individuals to be held civilly liable for transmitting particularly dangerous communicable diseases.

Let's suppose I refuse to let everyone in my household be vaccinated for measles. Then I contract measles and transmit it to you. That would be an inadvertent initiation of the use of force, comparable to what would happen if I drove recklessly and accidentally hit you with my car. Therefore, you should be able to hold me civilly liable. You should be able to sue me for damages, since the transmission of measles is an accidental initiation of the use of force.

And I think that a family choosing to vaccinate would be a legal protection against such lawsuits. Under those circumstances, there wouldn't be a command-and-control edict forcing everyone to be
vaccinated, but individuals would still be incentivized to vaccinate.