Wednesday, January 10, 2018

‘Hate Crimes’ are Invalid as Objective Laws

A savage attack by four black thugs on a disabled white man in Chicago, which resulted in a controversial charging of the four black thugs with a “hate crime” was the subject of an article by Michael Hurd. In 'Hate Crimes' Go Both Ways, Hurd points out the double standard involved:

"Conventional wisdom and contemporary legal practice hold that if you kill or injure someone in a protected racial or social group minority – i.e., black, Hispanic, gay/lesbian, Muslim – then it’s automatically and always a 'hate crime.'" 
Logically, if you commit a crime against someone because they’re Christian, atheist, agnostic, Asian American or white … well, isn’t that a hate crime too? Conventional wisdom doesn’t have an answer. You just don’t ask that question. At least not until now. [emphasis added]

Hurd points out not just the double standard, but that the designation “hate crime” itself is nothing more than a political weapon used to create victimhood out of thin air—and the dangerous end to which this premise leads:

The classification “hate crime” was only ever necessary to ensure that some crimes become more criminal than others when they’re committed against politically powerful victim groups. It never was about justice; it was always about politics. Because once a government elite can punish us merely for hating, the stage is set to punish us for thinking, speaking or believing. Even in America, we’re perilously close to the edge of entering that zone. [emphasis added]

A hate crime amounts to criminalizing people for thoughts the government doesn't approve of. Sooner or later, "hate" will be decoupled from the commission of an actual crime, and people will be punished simply for expressing thoughts the government doesn't approve of. It's already happening elsewhere. “Hate Speech” is now a crime in Europe. The precedent is set: You can be punished for your thoughts. It's a precedent that leads straight to political prisons.

On Hurd’s facebook post, Michael Mangold commented:

A crime intended to intimidate or terrorize a community has more victims than one that isn't. Burning a cross or spray painting a swastika is different than random vandalization, for instance, and requires commensurate penalties.

Hurd responded:

As to this argument: "A crime intended to intimidate or terrorize a community has more victims than one that isn't. Burning a cross or spray painting a swastika is different than random vandalization, for instance, and requires commensurate penalties." 
Why? On what basis? The moment you start penalizing or making illegal hatred (or any emotion, feeling or idea) itself is the moment you have created the basis for a totalitarian dictatorship. The rest is only a matter of time. As revolting and disgusting as I find some attitude or feeling/idea, I can't use the force of government to punish/jail/fine people only because I find it revolting and disgusting. I can only invoke government once force or fraud are involved. And the fact that millions or thousands agree with my disgust has no bearing on it either. That's the moment you're talking about mob rule. The inherent self-refutation of the "hate crime" concept can be seen in the facts of this Chicago case. If you classify it as a hate crime, then you elevate any case as arguably a hate crime; if you get rid of the concept altogether, then you simply classify all crimes as crimes, perhaps debating what constitutes a crime or what the penalty should be, of course. Bottom line context, and this cannot be dropped or evaded: In a free society, you don't punish anyone for an emotion; only for an action. And you don't penalize the crime more heavily only because of the emotion behind it.
Michael Mangold replied:
I'm taking it as an unintentional compliment that you quoted my comment. I usually agree with you and find your insights invaluable. The number of victims when a community is targeted is greater than is the case from a mere random act of violence. That is why; that is the basis.
I agree with Hurd. But there’s more to say here.

On the face of it, Mangold’s argument is a plausible one. If a black woman is targeted because she is black, then every black woman could theoretically feel at risk. But on examination, Mangold’s argument collapses.

The term "intimidate or terrorize a community" is way too vague and subjective. What about a serial killer or street gangs, who can be said to "intimidate or terrorize" everyone regardless of race, rather than just a politically powerful group? Why are people "intimidated or terrorized" by gang violence not victims, while people "intimidated or terrorized" by burning a cross are so classified? What's to stop the premise from being expanded to encompass ever more "protected groups" at the expense of individual rights?

And if being "intimidated" or "terrorized" makes one a victim, then why shouldn't being "offended" also make one a victim? Once you go down the road of expanding the classification of people as "victims" for how they feel, it's a dangerous expansion of criminality beyond aggressive force and fraud.

The whole idea of "protected groups" runs afoul of the 14th Amendment. How can we have equal protection under the law when the level of one's protection depends on the group one is assigned to, and whether one's group has a privileged "protected" status or not? We can't. The only basis for equal protection is the principle of inalienable individual rights, protected equally for all people at all times.

I sympathize with victims of bigotry. I’ve been one. But only the actual physical crime, or direct imminent threat thereof—not thoughts, however hateful—should be punishable. Only objective laws can accomplish that.

Related Reading:

Cohen: Hate-Crime Laws are "Totalitarian Nonsense"

“Hate Crime” Laws are Gateways for Censorship and Statism—my article for The Objective Standard

The Sentencing of Dharun Ravi: Judge’s Reasoning Highlights Dangers of “Hate Crime” Laws—my article for The Objective Standard

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