- The new TV show Life on Mars features a cop thrown back
in time to 1973. On a recent episode, the cop from 2008 calls an assault
a "hate crime." His buddy, a cop from 1973, retorts, "As
opposed to an "I really, really like you crime?""
- His witty comeback points out the commonsense response
to the idea of a "hate crime:" all violence comes from evil emotions.
We should not classify some rapes as more hateful or some assaults as more
biased. This belittles individual survivors; it categorizes them based
on their group identity, not their personal rights as a human being.
- In New York State, seven teens have been accused of a
"hate crime" after a 38-year-old immigrant from Ecuador, Marcello
Lucero, was attacked and stabbed to death. The assistant district attorney
claims that the teens said, "Let's go find some Mexicans to -- --
up." She accuses them of a "well thought out crime targeting
- Say she's right. Say these seven teens murdered Marcello
Lucero because he was the first Latin-looking man they saw and their agenda
was to kill a Hispanic. That's appalling. But would Marcello's death be
less horrible if the boys killed him because they wanted to gang-rape his
wife? Would it be less hateful if they'd stabbed him to death so they could
have a joy ride in his car? If they hadn't hated his race but had hated
his wealth or his job or his resemblance to a man who had molested one
of them-would the crime have been less evil?
- "Anti-hate" laws say yes. These laws segregate
society into groups and say bias and hatred of some groups, like minorities,
is worse than against others. A crime against a member of a protected group
is punished more harshly than a crime against an individual not of those
groups. This is identity politics at its worst.
- As we warn time and again, these laws are ultimately
dangerous not just because they further splinter society into separate
social groups but because they criminalize bias, which is held in beliefs,
thoughts and speech. There is no freedom more precious than the freedom
to believe, think and speak as you choose, even if you choose racism or
nationalism or to worship aliens. Hate crime laws shatter this precious
freedom, invading the most personal space of thought and belief to legislate
what are acceptable beliefs and biases and what are not.
- An Associated Press article about Marcello Lucero's stabbing
reviews a few other assaults on Hispanic immigrants and quotes leaders
of Long Island Immigrant Alliance; they blame the public debate on immigration
for fostering a culture of hate. A local pastor and immigrant advocate
even charged that "some of the highest leaders of our community also
have blood on their hands." Wow, now political commentators on illegal
immigration are responsible for this brutal killing?
- That kind of rhetoric is precisely what happens when
prosecutors parse the "bias" behind a crime and prosecute beliefs,
not just actions. Soon the realm of ideas and public debate is picked apart.
Legitimate political speech is blamed for "inciting hate." Soon
government regulates ideas and speech. Bloggers are arrested for writing
about immigration. Social scientists face jail time for taboo (but possibly
true) theories about race. Pastors are put in handcuffs for quoting from
the Bible about sexual immorality. Sound like a draconian dictatorship
that could never happen in the USA? I wish it were. This kind of crackdown
has already happened in Canada, Europe and Australia. It will happen here,
too, if we continue to march to the steady beat of hate crime arguments.
It is a natural path: you stiffen penalties for the thoughts behind a crime;
soon you prosecute the thoughts if they are said aloud, whether or not
an actual crime has been committed. The speech and the thoughts become
the crime. And then we live in Orwell's world.
- In Burma, a 28-year-old poet and blogger has been sentenced
to 20 years in prison for publishing an online poem mocking the country's
dictator. The lines of his poem formed an acrostic calling the dictator
"power crazy." He was arrested the day after publishing the poem.
The blogger-now-prisoner owns three internet cafes in Burma's capitol.
His mother was not allowed to attend his hearing, and as a detainee he
was deprived of food and water during the proceedings.
- Unfortunately, no American can view Burma's actions with
indifference, as the fascist tactics of an outpost of civilization. Hardly.
"Anti-hate" laws empower the most "civilized" governments
of the world to imprison their citizens for online political and social
speech. Just ask David Irving or Ernst Zundel, who served jail time for
challenging establishment history of the Holocaust. As much as we might
like to believe an American will never face a policeman's fist on his door
for critiquing the government-or Judaism, or homosexual practices, or religion-on
his blog-it can and will happen.
- And it will happen through the seemingly righteous move
of defining and prosecuting violent "hate crimes"-as if some
crimes were based in kindness.