International Question Time: Combating Hate Crime and Xenophobia through Restorative Justice: Reflections

International Question Time: Combating Hate Crime and Xenophobia through Restorative Justice: Reflections

Author: Gabriel Sanders, 99% Campaign team member and IARS Communications and Policy Intern On the evening of 13 April 2015, at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, some of the most accredited and acutely aware minds of United Kingdom academia gathered to discuss restorative justice and hate crimes, the issues closest to our hearts at IARS. The present writer from the University of California, Davis, was there as well as an unexpected but very fortunate participant. Surveying the room from my place on the panel, I took in the faces of men and women seated in the audience who hailed from widely varied academic and personal backgrounds. To my left sat the three distinguished panelists: hate crime expert Dr. Mark Walters of Sussex University, restorative justice Professor Marelize Schoeman from the University of South Africa, and of course Dr. Theo Gavrieledes, chair of the event and founder of IARS. Fashioning the event after the well-known Question Time T.V. programme, Dr. Gavrieledes guided the panelists through stimulating, hard-hitting questions from attendees of the event. Some were preselected by Dr. Gavrieledes and some were posed spontaneously by the audience. Questions ranged from topics addressing hate crime education in the UK and the US, to the role of religion in hate crimes and restorative justice, to the steps necessary for restorative justice to begin on a large scale between peoples and nations. As the least pedigreed member of the panel, I found myself answering questions in what I heard characterized as a bold, fresh, and even controversial perspective that seemed to complement the well-seasoned and long-researched theories of...
Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Warm Hearts vs. Cold Blood

Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Warm Hearts vs. Cold Blood

Author: Gabriel Sanders, 99% Campaign team member and IARS Communications and Policy Intern Jet-lagged, hungry, and bedraggled, my first encounter with the London Metropolitan Police began when I sat down with several student companions at a Cromwell road restaurant for lunch. The officer had been standing at the bar with his partner, intermittently eyeing our table. Having arrived in this country the previous day, my brain was still swimming in American paradigms; the officer’s presence set me on edge. Why? Lately, in my home country of the United States, a spate of highly publicized incidents of police abusing their authority, and abusing even further the citizens they are sworn to protect has sent waves of discomfort, distress, and outrage through many cities in America. Ethnic minority communities in my small hometown and especially in large metropolitan areas have much more reason to fear their ostensible “protectors” than I ever have or will as a middle-class white male. Notably, the outrage over the lack of any effective indictment of police officers responsible for the deaths of two unarmed African Americans on two separate occasions in 2014 (Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner of New York City) demonstrated an utter lack of public satisfaction or faith. Peaceful, albeit ominous protests occurred nearly every day as investigations took place and the fate of the police officers in question were being determined by the “justice” system. Predictably, however, the situation devolved to a cycle of reprisals in the form of public mayhem and vicious verbal condemnations. Two New York City police officers were murdered in cold blood, and for a time...
Political disengagement and socioeconomic inequality: the case for compulsory voting

Political disengagement and socioeconomic inequality: the case for compulsory voting

Author: Christine Liang is an Australian-Chinese living in London with an interest in public policy and political philosophy. She is a BSc Politics and Philosophy graduate from the London School of Economics, currently studying an MMus in Violin at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. With the 2015 General Election approaching, the problem of rising political disengagement and low voter turnout has been discussed extensively, particularly with respect to young voters. Such trends urge us to consider the factors that drive political disengagement and what, on a public policy level, can be done to address these issues. Compulsory voting could have many potential benefits, most notably raising turnout levels, and, compensating for the social, political and economic obstacles which may prevent people from voting. High levels of popular engagement with national elections are desirable in representative democracies as they tend to produce governments and policies which are more representative of the electorate, and subsequently, are viewed as more legitimate. Hence, voter turnout levels are important in assessing the health of a democracy. Worldwide, electoral turnout has been on a steady decline. Average voter turnout has dropped from 73% in the mid-1980s to less than 65% by the early 2000s.[1] In the UK, the sharpest decline in turnout has been amongst young voters aged 18 – 24, at an average of 43.5% between the 2001 and 2010 General Election.[2] To increase turnout, some countries have adopted compulsory voting, where citizens are legally obliged to vote in government elections or may face punitive measures such as fines or community service. Amongst these countries are Australia, Belgium, Luxembourg and Brazil. Compulsory voting is extremely...
Social correction versus bullying

Social correction versus bullying

Author note: Sarah O’Brien is studying for a BA in Journalism & new media at the University of Limerick in Ireland. She enjoys reading Marian Keys and fantasy fiction and has a keen interest in blogging, keeping both a make-up blog and a more ‘serious’ blog on Word press. The term “social correction” implies bringing an individual back into line with what is considered socially appropriate in the given culture/continent/creed/context in which they choose to reside. Social correction as an idea makes sense, particularly when correcting ideologies about racism, sexism, homophobia, and so on. It can serve a purpose in those contexts, because it is actively seeking to quell an insidious wave of human behaviour that is damaging to us all. Etymologically speaking, the term “correction” has an array of meanings which are applicable in a number of contexts. One such explanation sees correction as punishment intended to rehabilitate or improve. Paired with terminology like social, correction becomes the ultimate display of panopticism – citizens policing other citizen’s behaviour, judging them by whatever standard they see fit, as long as it remains in keeping with the majority. In a wider context, social policing in this manner, is actually very necessary. Modern society moves like a well-oiled machine, steam rolling over any who refuse to cooperate. More often than not that cooperation protects us. It maintains a status quo that allows people to sleep safer in their beds at night, safe in the knowledge that where they live, murder, theft and so on are not considered socially acceptable and therefore should anything happen, their perpetrators will be held accountable-punished if you will....