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EDITORIAL: Thought crimes
Is a ‘hate’ crime worse than a ‘goodwill’ crime?
Question of the Day
In George Orwell’s allegorical novel “Animal Farm,” all animals were equal, but some animals were more equal than others. “Hate-crime” laws treat some victims more equally than others, converting thoughts into crimes. Orwell would understand, but not applaud.
Those who mistreat members of preferred or “enhanced” groups are subject to enhanced punishment on conviction. If the same thug mistreats someone in the same way, but it’s someone who falls outside the “enhanced” demographics, hate is not a crime.
Mark Carson was strolling in New York’s Greenwich Village with a companion after midnight Sunday when he was fatally shot by a man who was said to have been taunting him for being a homosexual. The gunman has been charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime.
A week earlier in Baton Rouge, La., a black man beat up a white family at a gasoline station because they were in the “wrong neighborhood,” as reported by the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The assailant was charged with second-degree battery, but not with a hate crime.
The inconsistency of treatment between the two cases shouldn’t surprise anyone. The hate-crimes statutes on the books in 45 states are vague and their application is arbitrary. Murder is murder, and assault is assault, regardless of whether the perpetrator thinks bad things about the victim’s shoe color, hair color, skin color or the condition of his shirt.
In 2009, President Obama signed a measure named for Matthew Shepard, a homosexual who was murdered in 1998 near Laramie, Wyo. The federal hate crime law was amended to cover homosexuality. The man’s mother was asked at a 2002 appearance at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., why the two men who beat her son to death should be punished more severely than someone who had committed the same crime against a straight man. She had no answer. Even without the hate-crimes law on the books, the thugs responsible for the attack were sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. Short of the death penalty, the penalty can’t be “enhanced.”
In truly Orwellian fashion, the left has systematically shifted the focus of the law from the criminal act that should be punished to the concept that certain personal beliefs are unacceptable and must be outlawed. This was Orwell’s concept of “thought crimes.”
The Georgia Supreme Court struck down the state’s hate-crimes law in 2004, saying the prohibition on committing crimes out of “prejudice” was so vague that a rabid sports fan could be convicted of “uttering terroristic threats to a victim selected for wearing a competing team’s baseball cap.” The Georgia court had the right idea. Instead of arbitrarily singling out certain crimes for extra punishment, it makes more sense to use existing laws to sentence violent thugs to the full extent of the law.
The Washington Times
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- EDITORIAL: A man for 2016
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