The Commission is a Crime

People who dedicate themselves to teaching self defense skills are, by and large, motivated by a profound sense of fair play. They just don’t see any reason why a 90 pound woman should automatically lose when attacked by a 250 pound weightlifting sexual predator.

It is that same devotion to the ideal of a level playing field that keeps me from endorsing so-called hate crime legislation. Violent assault is already a crime, just as it should be. But why in the world should the penalty be greater if the victim just happens to be a member of a minority group? Not only doesn’t that seem very fair to me, it also appears to violate the principle that we are all equal under the law.

Let us turn this around and look at it from the other side. Should the sentence be harsher if the criminal is a minority? Most people would instantly reject the idea as being blatantly racist and discriminatory, yet it doesn’t seem to occur to anyone that attempting to add layers of protections to minorities that the rest of the population won’t share is also a form of racism and discrimination.

The state of Illinois seems to be very proud of its hate crime legislation. The governor’s office says so at this website, which is the web page for the Governor’s Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes. This webpage proclaims that the commission is dedicated to fighting discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, skin color, gender, disability or sexual orientation, which are six different dragons they’re trying to slay.

Things aren’t all rosy in the Land of Political Correctness, though. Illinois Governor Blagojevich appointed Sister Claudette Marie Muhammad, a high ranking member of the Nation of Islam, to the commission back in August. She urged all of her fellow commission members to attend a speech given last month by NoI leader Louis Farrakhan. I don’t know how many actually attended other than Sister Muhammad, but Farrakhan seized the opportunity to accuse “Hollywood Jews” of promoting homosexuality and “other filth”.

Hmm. That’s two out of six, isn’t it?

Other members of the commission haven’t been taking this lying down. A few of them have called upon Sister Muhammad to repudiate Farrakhan’s remarks. When she refused they started to resign. So far five Jewish members have turned in their walking papers.

Right now I’m thinking that the rest of the commission consists of nothing but straight people. Either that or the gay members are really slow getting out of the gate.

Governor Blagojevich has tried to distance himself from the scandal by claiming that he didn’t know Sister Muhammad was a member of the Nation of Islam when he appointed her. Every time I read her name I have real trouble accepting that statement.

I think that this current flap is pretty much a matter of credibility, or lack thereof. The commission can’t have any credibility as long as a high ranking leader of the Nation of Islam is a member, and the governor just lost all credibility by trying to claim that he had no idea when he appointed her.

5 thoughts on “The Commission is a Crime”

  1. James, Your assumption that either there are no gays or they are slow getting out of the gate assumes (which I don’t think you are otherwise) that only Jews are offended by anti-semitism and only gays by homophobia. Surely, if we have such commissions and they have such missions, the least that could be expected of them would be that their sympathies extended beyond the particular groups to which they belong. That only Jews have withdrawn is an indictment in itself. Identity politics has had the quite rational but wholly destructive tendency of making us less rather than more conscious of what we have in common and universal human nature with its flaws & virtues; instead, with the focus on group identity, our eyes are fixed on our differentness & our identity with our group. It encourages tribalism and discourages the assumptions of the rule of law.

  2. James,

    I am shocked at your failure to appreciate the genius of Gov. Blogojevich. With regard to committee appointments he is one of the few visionary American leaders who have opened their minds to the wisdom of the UN Commission on Human Rights.

  3. James,

    I think hate crime laws are ridiculous, but you misstate the theory supporting them. The point of hate crime laws is that it identifies a particular motive in the perpetrator as being worse than normal criminal motivations. The focus is not on added sympathy with the victim, but added denunciation of the criminal.

    So it’s a mischaracterization to say that hate crime laws make it such that someone will be punished more greatly “if the victim just happens to be a member of a minority group.” The person’s membership in that group needs to be a motivating force in committing the crime.

    Still a dumb thing to codify into law, but different than the way you represent it.

  4. I think the argument for hate crime legislation is that the crimes have a more far reaching impact. If a man kills his wife for cheating on him, no one else’s security or sense of security is affected besides the victim. If a minority is lynched for whistling at a white woman, this crime affects the entire minority community in the area, because it suggests that unless they submit to racists’ accepted mode of behavior they face violent reactions.

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