A hypothetical situation: person X is raising their child. They're, by most measures, a good parent. They're protective of the child. They look after their child's education - reading, writing, history, etc. They cook them good meals, teach them good habits of cleanliness and exercise. They teach them good ethics, to treat people well, to be honest, to be fair. But in addition to all of this, they teach their child one more thing.
Namely, they teach them that latinos are what they call 'mud people' - filthy, genetically inferior, and looked down upon.
Now, here's the catch. They also teach their child that the 'mud people' may be dirty, may be inferior. But, they should still treat them with courtesy and fairness, the same way they treat everyone else. Be honest with them. Be considerate. If they want a job and said child is the employer, then hire them if they have competence. This dislike is largely personal, aesthetic. Not liking how latinos look. Not liking their language. Certainly never having one as a personal friend, etc.
With all this in mind, here is my question: did person X harm their child by instilling this belief/reaction in them?
Again, let's be clear on what this belief is. It's not 'a desire to harm latinos' either economically or physically. It is a personal distaste - they dislike them. They exclude them from personal friendship, even while treating them civilly, fairly and with respect in all interactions. Adhering to the letter of the law, even if they dislike these people. Likewise, I'm not asking for hypothetical situations where this belief/attitude could contingently lead to a poorer state of affairs for the child (say, not befriending latino Y who could have helped their business.) We can even say for the sake of argument that the child retains this belief and attitude their whole life, but lives a happy and successful life, etc.
Here's the problem with answering my question.
I think most people are going to be initially tempted to say yes, the child was harmed: imparting this desire or belief or attitude was a case of harm in and of itself. It doesn't really matter if the child never mistreats anyone professionally; racism is 'bad' and racist thoughts are 'bad' and therefore raising a child to think those thoughts, period, is bad and is harm.
Okay. Reasonable reply - I'd probably give that same reply myself! But, there's a price to pay there, intellectually.
If we're going to admit that some beliefs and attitudes are just 'harm' - that they are wrong and bad, even if they have no negative impact on a person's life, or the lives of those they deal with - then we have opened the door to a discussion about the harmfulness of having certain beliefs and desires, period, regardless of what impact these beliefs and desires otherwise have on our lives or the lives of others.
That would mean that when we're discussing whether a given belief or desire is disordered - sexual or otherwise - that it's a mistake to automatically look to effects as the deciding factor of whether such and such a belief/desire is disordered. Some things are just disordered - they are just 'harm' - period, end of story, effects be damned. Racism is wrong, even if racists can live quite fine lives and treat what they see as 'mud people' with a consistently even hand. That attitude of racial superiority and that other races are filthy inferiors is harm in and of itself. It is damage.
And so, too, can be various desires from same-sex sexual desire to otherwise.
Of course, someone can always say that no, the child was not harmed, that effects are all that matter. But the cost there is to argue that ingrained dislike of people because of their race isn't damage or harm - it's only when they act on it in the wrong ways that any problems surface.