I start every morning with a cup of coffee, a check outside to be sure the sun is going to live up to it’s daily obligation, and a look at the news. When I say I “look at the news” I mostly scan the CNN.com headlines and rant to myself, “that’s not news”, “that’s not news”, “that’s a totally misleading headline”, “Jake Tapper sounds like a ridiculously made-up name”, “that’s clickbait”, “that’s not news” and then I go check facebook.
This morning, though, an interesting bit of self-awareness took place. One of our local news outlets had two stories that caught my eye. First, there was a headline about the legislature considering making violence against transgender citizens a hate crime. My first, knee-jerk, gut reaction was “why?”. Isn’t violence against anybody already illegal? Is it more illegal to hit a “trans” on the head than it is to do the same thing to a “straight”? What is being accomplished by codifying into law, an application to a subset of our population, something that is already fully covered in more general terms? Anything? Are transgender folks any more protected than they were before?
The second story was in regard to new legal language in the State of Iowa requiring motorists to pass bicyclists in the same manner that they pass motorized vehicles - yielding the entire lane to the cyclist, the motorists would be required to move fully to another lane or the other side of the road. As an active cyclist, I applauded this without hesitation. But, wait a second - it’s already illegal to pass any vehicle in an unsafe manner. Is it more illegal to endanger a cyclist now than it was before? Again, what is being accomplished by codifying into law, an application to a subset of our population something that is already fully covered in more general terms? Anything? Are cyclists any more protected than they were before?
The questions of “is it more illegal…” and “are they more protected” are interesting, but interestinger (I just made that word up to give you militant grammarians something upon which to comment) to me is my reaction to each case. In two cases of additional language being written into law to cover already-protected parties - one I questioned, the other I endorsed. A little self-serving hypocrisy here? Yes, I think so. I hate it when I realize I’m not perfect.