Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Folly Of Hate-Crime Laws

Richard Cohen discusses the real purpose of "hate-crime" laws in his Washington Post article:
The real purpose of hate-crime laws is to reassure politically significant groups -- blacks, Hispanics, Jews, gays, etc. -- that someone cares about them and takes their fears seriously. That's nice. It does not change the fact, though, that what's being punished is thought or speech. Johns is dead no matter what von Brunn believes. The penalty for murder is severe, so it's not as if the crime is not being punished. The added "late hit" of a hate crime is without any real consequence, except as a precedent for the punishment of belief or speech. Slippery slopes are supposedly all around us, I know, but this one is the real McCoy.

Let us assume that the "community" is really affected by what we call a hate crime. I am Jewish. But even with von Brunn's attack, I am more affected by a mugging in my neighborhood that might keep me from taking a walk at night than I am by a shooting at the Holocaust museum. If there's a murder in a park, I'll stay out of it for months. If there's a rape, women will stay out of the park. If there's another and another, women will know that a real hater is loose. Rape, though, is not a hate crime. Why not?

I doubt that any group of drunken toughs is going to hesitate in their pummeling of a gay individual or an African American or a Jew on account of it being a hate crime. If they are not already deterred by the conventional penalties -- prison, etc. -- then why would additional penalties deter them? And if, in fact, they kept their mouths shut, refrained from the N-word or the F-word or the K-word, and simply made the beating or the killing seem one triggered by dissing or some other reason, then they would not be accused of hate -- merely of murder or some such trifle. If, though, they gave vent to their thoughts, they would be in for real trouble.

For the most part, hate-crime legislation is just a sop for politically influential interest groups -- yet another area in which liberals, traditionally sensitive to civil liberties issues, have chosen to mollify an entire population at the expense of the individual and endorse discredited reasoning about deterrence.
Well, we know how it works, don't we? When an ethnic gang declares their street a "no go zone" for anyone whose origin is different than theirs - they're just "unprivileged youths", lashing out at the society that has marginalized them. When a gang of radical homosexual perverts vandalizes a church or assaults the parishioners during service - it's the church and the parishioners that are to blame; they shouldn't have campaigned to defend traditional marriage. But if ordinary people dare to fight back or even - talk about getting together and fighting back - that's when "hate crime" laws kick in. Those laws are there to force Liberal/"Progressive" social engineering on our society and to suppress any opposition that may arise.

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