Is it a hate crime to call someone “fat”? A hate crime is typically associated with gender, racial or sexual identity, but in the UK, the Parliamentary Group on Body Image proposed that ridiculing overweight people should be treated as a “hate crime”. Is this another instance of political correctness run amuck? Overweight people certainly do not deserve to be taunted. However, isn’t it a stretch to make it a hate crime?
A recent article explains that “Under this scheme for a crackdown on what the Parliamentary Group describes as ‘appearance based discrimination’, tubbies and lard buckets would join the ranks of state-approved victimhood. In this brave new world, insults directed at couch potatoes would be taken as seriously as sexism, homophobia and racism.” “Appearance based discrimination”?
Perhaps the Parliamentary Group on Body Image have their hearts in the right place, but they are not going about this in the correct way.
Words can be painful. Perhaps the best course of action would be to promote tolerance and understanding, instead of simply trying to stifle bad behavior by making it criminal. If calling someone “tubby” is to be considered a hate crime, what next? Would the next proposal be to criminalize making fun of someone because of their age or hair color? Is the next “appearance based discrimination” proposal going to be aimed at people who make fun of those with red hair? How about those with mental or physical disabilities? What if someone has a birthmark? Is it a hate crime to make fun of someone who has a wart?
Perhaps teaching compassion and understanding is the better route. Maybe it would be a better solution to encourage kindness and to teach that all people have a story and appearance means nothing in the long run, it is about character. The golden rule should be taught from an early age. Anyone who is a target of mean-spirited speech should consider the source and move on with his or her life. Remember the old adage: Sticks and stones…