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Hate Crime, It’s the Thought That Counts

In light of all of the racially incendiary “reportage” of a media elite bent on creating a narrative to fit their agenda (regardless of whatever the facts are), it seems appropriate to go beyond the murky circumstances surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin.

Hate crime laws are political correctness on steroids. As a classification of crime, they are  stupid, illogical, and dangerous. It makes no sense to classify the same crime in two different ways. Murder is murder.  Assaulting someone is assaulting someone.  Vandalizing property is vandalism.  In the case of murder, is the victim any less dead if the killer is a bigot? Indeed, in the case of premeditated murder, hatred for the victim is probably a big motivator.

Which is worse, to be killed by someone who hates you, for rational, or irrational reasons, or by a soulless sociopath, as in this instance cited by Rich Lowry in a recent column highlighting the media’s selective outrage.

Last year, Charinez Jefferson, 17, was shot and killed on a Chicago street. “She begged the shooter not to shoot her because she was pregnant,” a pastor explained. The alleged assailant, Timothy Jones, 18, shot her in the head, chest and back after seeing her walking with a rival gang member.

The outcome of murder is always the same – the death of the victim. Assassination is illegal – it is nonsensical to arbitrarily designate an added factor that somehow makes it more heinous. In the case cited by Lowry above, (in which both the murderer and his victim were black) would the murder have been more regrettable if the perpetrator were Hispanic, half Hispanic, or White-Hispanic in the newly coined parlance of the NYT?  What if the victim had been Muslim, Catholic, Jewish? What if Timothy Jones was a Baptist who killed this 17 year old mother-to-be because she was not? Can any scenario involving the thought process of the murderer, or the race or religion of the victim, make the actual murder more tragic?

So, what’s the big deal? Who cares if the same crime is classified in different ways?  Herein lies the danger.

Again, let’s take the example of the senseless murder of Charinez Jefferson. Let’s say for the sake of argument that there was an identical murder, the only difference being, that the murderer  fell into the category of one perpetrating a “hate” crime.

Thought PoliceIn both cases the victim and her unborn child were killed.

The only thing different is the motivation – or in other words, the thought behind the act.

It has never been illegal to think.

It is not illegal to hold a contrary opinion.

It has never been illegal to be angry – or even to hate.

It’s not even illegal to be stupid.

The difference between thought and action is significant.  Judging whether an action transpired or not is much easier than judging what was in the person’s mind when they did the action. Since when are we culpable for impure thoughts?  Justice is about meting out consistent consequences for illegal acts, not thoughts.

We are a nation dedicated to equal justice for all. Or so it says on the Supreme Court building. Have we entered some kind Orwellian world in which those who have committed crimes are punished more severely if they deviate from what the government says are acceptable thoughts in the commission of the crime?

By the logic behind such classifications a crime is worsened by the thinking of the perpetrator.  Therefore, unequal punishment for two otherwise equal events means there is a part of one event which is unlawful in itself that was absent from the other event.

Eric Holder has demonstrated that some people have access to a different justice than other people. Remember the Wisconsin State Fair mobs of roving blacks beating white Fair goers?  These assaults were not designated hate crimes because the victims were the wrong color.

A person’s very identity is at stake. Judging by the MSM treatment of George Zimmerman, if the perpetrator of a crime against a black is a Hispanic he becomes a “white Hispanic.” If he is the victim of a crime perpetrated by a white then he becomes just plain Hispanic.

Adding a classification to crimes, by placing the appellation “hate” in front of them, provides emotional cover to place it before another word – speech.  In the same way hate crimes leverage the emotional resonance of the deeds themselves, we have a whole new kind of crime “hate speech,” which derives its legitimacy from hate crimes.

In reality, the rules of civility were never intended to carry the force of law. We are free (for now) to hold opinions outside of the mainstream. Who gets to decide which opinions are “legal” and which are not?

Is it so far fetched that the fanatics in the environmental movement would seek to ban opposing opinions of global warming in the name of the greater good of protecting mother earth? These people are just as confident that they are right about this issue as their compatriots are about the distinctions constituting “hate” crimes.  Why not have “green” crimes, too?  It has already been suggested in a series of supposedly humorous Public Service Announcement videos intended to raise awareness – and establish legitimacy for the concept.

Remember these are the people who gave us this video:

Condemning people on the basis of their thoughts opens a whole other Pandora’s box. The Soviet Union used psychiatric hospitals to isolate political dissidents from the rest of society and discredit their ideas.  Religious prisoners were determined to suffer from a form of mental illness that required “curing.” And it was all done in the name of the greater good.


5 comments

1 Anthony { 04.03.12 at 1:32 pm }

Completely agreed. Sure, the First Amendment doesn’t explicitly cover the right to free thought (unless you count religion) – because it is too outlandish to imagine a world where the government can punish you based on what is going on in your head. Or, should I say, it SHOULD BE too outlandish to imagine that.

“…[T]hose who have committed crimes are punished more severely if they deviate from what the government says are acceptable thoughts in the commission of the crime…”

I really enjoy the idea that the government has a standard for acceptable thoughts while committing murder. “Oh, yeah, he killed the guy, but at least he wasn’t a bigot.”

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2 Dan Bryan { 04.04.12 at 11:33 am }

This is an outstanding article. Would I not be equally bereaved if a member of my family was killed in a “hate crime” vs. a non-”hate crime” situation? Would it not be equally bad for society?

This is actually one of the most ridiculous legal creations of recent times in my opinion.

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Martin Reply:

Thanks Dan. The whole notion of trying to determine what someone was thinking vs what they did, is very Orwellian. We now have “hate speech,” as a direct result of this convoluted logic. That is a chilling concept. Who gets to decide what constitutes “hate speech.” We have lost our minds as a society. Remember the schoolyard rhyme? “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Now you can be arrested for what you say.

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3 B4warned { 04.09.12 at 2:04 pm }

Bias-motivated crimes also known as HATE CRIMES, occurs when a PERPETRATOR “deliberately” TARGETS a victim because they PERCEIVE them deserving of assault, violence, intense hatred, and destruction, because they belong to a certain group. The targets of these underserved criminal acts are discriminated and violated solely because they are different from the perpetuator’s race, religion, sexual orientation, class, ethnicity, nationality, age, sex, gender identity, social status, or political affiliation.
Common sense as well as the bible, tells you that motivation makes all the difference in the world. Water in the sea is different than water in a lake. Yes, water is water; just like dead is dead, but the source of where the water lay and the path it travels determines the quality of the water.
When a person is attacked, it affects them emotionally and physiologically.

Call it what you will, hateful language has ruin many lives, and out of the HEART the mouth SPEAKS, and when that occurs people need to be accountable. THINK, before they ACT. Or better yet, ask yourself,” how would I feel, if this were to happen to me?

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Marcia Reply:

In criminal law, motive is distinct from intent. Criminal intent refers to the mental state of mind possessed by a defendant in committing a crime. With few exceptions the prosecution in a criminal case must prove that the defendant intended to commit the illegal act. The prosecution need not prove the defendant’s motive. The exception is so-called hate crimes. Despicable as such thoughts are, thinking bad thoughts is not a crime in and of itself, nor should it be. What is a crime is what a person does. The attempt to make dissident thoughts, no matter how deplorable, illegal is the proverbial slippery slope and is incompatible with a free society. Do you really want the government to decide what thoughts are illegal, decide who is thinking them, and punish people accordingly?

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