Saturday, September 17, 2005

How Do I Hate Thee?

Liberals in the U.S. House of Representatives were able to bypass their normal method of passing legislation that the majority of America doesn't want to see by taking advantage of the distractions offered by Hurricane Katrina. Otherwise they would have been forced to follow the standard practice of bringing a lawsuit before a sympathetic judge to have a new imaginary "right" written into law.

John Conyers (D – Michigan) played along with the Children's Safety Act until he saw an opportunity, then pushed through the 25th amendment ("Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2005") to this bill. In a nutshell,
The language stipulates that crimes "motivated by prejudice based on the actual or perceived race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability of the victim" shall be punished by up to life in prison. It also authorizes $10 million to prosecute such crimes.

Here is an excellent link to find out how states voted, who voted how, and who your representatives are.

So, all this to bring up one question: Is hate crime legislation valid?

I say no. Attaching special punishment, funding, or prosecution because of a victim’s physical or mental characteristics goes against the very fabric of America for two key reasons.

First, it mandates that some people get better legal treatment than others simply because of their color, religion, gender, gender identity, etc. This is, by definition, discrimination. Whether committed by people dressed in robes and burning crosses or by Ivy League schools trying to fix the demographic ratios of their student population, it’s still discrimination.

Second, hate crime legislation equates to prosecution of thought crimes. One of our rights here in America is our freedom of speech, with the assumption that we are speaking our own opinion. Because additional punishment is handed out based on the assumed motivation for a crime, people are punished not only for committing a crime but also for their very thoughts and attitudes.

On that same note, such legislation tries to turn law enforcement officials, lawyers, judges, and jurors into mind readers. Take a hypothetical situation. If John is known for hating midgets and shoots a burglar that just happens to be a midget, did John commit a hate crime? The whole "innocent until proven guilty" theory should mandate that John cannot be found guilty of a hate crime. Murder? Maybe. But the thoughts and attitudes leading up to the gunshot(s)? How can any human know for sure what lurks within another human's mind? There is always room for doubt. Unfortunately, this fact doesn't seem to choke the flow of legislation and practices designed to do exactly that – read people’s minds.

In my not-so-humble opinion, hate crime legislation ties up money, time, and effort in a doomed attempt to punish certain people’s attitudes out of existence. It is yet another misguided liberal attempt to do that which is impossible: create a man-made paradise based on whatever ideals and morals are currently considered fashionable.