Monday, July 23, 2007

Can they make laws against what you think?



In George Orwell's books, Nineteen Eighty-Four, the author describes a dystopian society. Dystopia is the polar opposite of Utopia, the latter being a society that is perfect with no crime or hunger or problems of any sort. In a Utopia, everyone lives in a perfect, harmonious, just and fair society. A Dystopia is the opposite, where people live in oppression, fear, hunger, and poverty.

In this book, written in 1949, we are introduced to the concept of "Big Brother." Big Brother is basically the government and the agencies assigned to watching over people in order to make sure they are constantly obeying the law and acting as the government wants them to. One bureau of the government and Big Brother was "The Thought Police." It was their job to use psychology, surveillance, and other means to uncover those that had illegal thoughts. Anyone having illegal thoughts such as challenging the authority of, well, the authorities. These were the worst crimes possible, and punishable by death. The main character, Winston Smith, writes in his diary...

"Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime is death."

and...

"Thoughtcrime is the only crime that matters."

This concept must be simply crazy to us that live in a democratic nation, right? In our modern civilized nation, with the freedom that our children are dying for across the world as I write this, the fact that simply thinking something could get you in trouble with the law is absolutely, completely, and wholly ludicrous to us. There is no way that thoughts could cause us to be punished by the law, right?

Well, think again (no pun intended).

In our country, there is something called a hate crime. This is a crime in which the person committing an act of violence is punished more severely than someone who committed that exact same act, but who had different thoughts in their head while committing the crime. Simply because they had the thoughts of hatred towards the object of their violence, and because their thoughts were focused on bigotry, racism, and/or sexism or other things, their crime is more severe than that of someone who say, just shoots someone randomly. I would go way off-track here if I got into how this makes the lives of some people worth more than others, so I won't go there in this post.

So there you go folks, watch what you think! There are certain thoughts that will cause you to be punished more severely than those that weren't thinking those thoughts.

Remember, "Big Brother is watching you"!

Image taken from http://legaltshirts.com/thoughtpolice_a.gif


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1 comment:

Tonya said...

Wow. I LOVE this book, but never thought of hate crimes in the way you described. And you're absolutely correct in your assessment.

Scary.