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Should racial insults be illegal?


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According to the Oxford English Dictionary, racial insults constitute of speaking or treating someone with disrespect or scornful abuse on the grounds of or connected with difference in race. 

Should this be made illegal?

The immediate answer from me is “yes! Of course!” but on more reflection and thought, it is difficult to be so resolute because it is something entirely different from the real issue at the heart of the matter - racism.  Racism isn’t a black and white (for want of a better phrase), issue.  I am not saying it is right, it definitely isn’t, but what I am saying is one racial insult doesn’t  equate to a racist and therefore making racial insults illegal cannot be the answer to racism.

Some people may be reading this and be thinking I am crazy - after all what gives someone the right to insult you based on the colour of your skin?  It is a factor of life that a person cannot help, nor should they want to. It is chance to be born white or not white. It is unacceptable for somebody to insult another person for a disability, yet somehow with race it isn’t that simple.  

I am not Caucasian and have unfortunately experienced racial insults on more than one level and  have endured what I would consider to be racial abuse. For example, I have been spat on because of the colour of my skin, I have been told I am not English because my parents were born in a different country and I was even so disgusting to a particular boy at primary school that he refused to stand next to me in a position in a school nativity play. 

All these instances are definitely unacceptable, but then it gets complicated. There’s casual racism, there’s political correctness, there’s racial insults banded around between racial groups themselves and not forgetting freedom of speech. Is this all considered to be racial insults?

I have indulged in casual racism and banter with friends involving what would be considered to be racial insults and have not been offended.  I am often the butt of ‘brown jokes’ between friends, but the fact that it is between friends is what makes it acceptable. Say somebody outside my immediate group of friends joined in on the ‘banter’ and I didn’t take it well, would that mean this person would be punished by law if I reported them for using a racial insult? That doesn’t seem fair to me.

There is a very strong difference between being racist and being spiteful and I think often people considered to be racist because one thing they  have said has fallen into the latter category.  In the heat of the moment, it is easy to lose your head, say things you don’t mean and focus on things that will obviously hurt your opponent. After all that is the point of an insult. Let’s be honest, being a different skin colour is an obvious feature of being a different ethnicity. That means it is also the easiest thing to insult a lot of the time.  It stands out, just like ginger hair stands out; it is different and so easy to pick up on. If anything, the crime you would be guiltier of is blatancy rather than racism.

If you kill with intent and malice it is murder- even if you do it once but if it was by accident or you wasn’t of the right mind it is considered to be manslaughter. Isolated incidents of racial insults  should be considered the manslaughter of the racism world, you didn’t say it with intent, or malice but it still hurt someone. Do it more than once, do it with malice and with the intent that your race is better than someone else’s and effectively you’ve just committed murder - in a racism sense anyway. This is what should be illegal.

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