When it first became politically trendy to back passage of ‘hate-crime’ legislation, I privately thought it a bad idea, while understanding completely why it was an appealing notion, especially for political and social entities which presumed to act on behalf of those threatened by weaponized hate. The fear in such communities was real, every bit as real as the threats, the vandalism, the lynch mobs, and disenfranchisement. It would take a politician with balls of brass to stand up before a group who justifiably were frightened by all that, and discount those fears. It was the easy way out for politicians, the media and social organizations to portray hate crime legislation as a good and discount those doubts held by those of us with inclinations toward the philosophical. A crime was a crime: there were already laws on the books dealing with vandalism, murder, arson and so on. A motivation for committing a crime ought to be of interest only in establishing the guilt of the perpetrator, not for piling on additional penalties. We do not have windows to peer accurately into the souls of others. Essentially, classifying a crime as a ‘hate crime’ was punishing the thought, over and above the actual crime itself. I didn’t think it was a good idea then, and still don’t think so – especially given the overwhelming numbers of so-called “hate crimes” which turn out to be either deliberate hoaxes, or the deeply imaginative letting their imaginations run away from them.
I feel the same way about hate crime’s dubious cousin – so-called hate speech, which of late seems to be classified lately as anything which the bien-pensant in academia, the media, or politics don’t wish to hear. Early on, the concept seemed to be that hate speech was the stuff of the KKK and the Nazis campaign against racial and religious minorities and encouraging the excision and/or destruction of those minorities from the human race by whatever means. Which was not just bad, it was also – in the words of my mother, one of the most militantly tolerant women on the face of the earth – rude. However, of late, the definition of hate-speech has become so loose as to be useless; a pity, as it once was a shorthand for the genuinely unacceptable in public discourse.
And that is not the worst, although the double standard when it comes to defining what is acceptable is galling to conservatives and moderates: why should nasty, bigoted racists like David Duke be un-personed, when a nasty, bigoted racist like Louis Farrakhan be an honored guest in the halls of the bien-pensant? Why is conservative speech on college campuses condemned as “violence” while violence perpetuated by far-leftists is excused as “free speech”? At this point, we know damned well why – and that is one of the reasons that the media, political, and academic members of the Ruling Class are hemorrhaging trust and credit with at least half the country.
The most troubling recent development on the hate-crime/hate speech front, though, is the concerted and organized effort to cut off organizations accused of having committed so-called “hate speech” (often on very thin grounds) not just from the popular social media outlets, but to pressure credit card and payment processing companies into denying their services. We’ve already seen this done to individuals – now it is an open campaign to economically punish the speech that the current Ruling Class doesn’t want to hear. Discuss our options for routing around this new insult to common sense and decency.
7 thoughts on “Hate Crime Speech”
My main objection is that “hate crime” is “thought crime.” And the definition of hate crime is very imprecise in some jurisdictions.
“But we all know what the law is intended for, and nobody would ever abuse it. Even if they tried, the courts would slap them down!”
Suuure. Tell that to the people who have fought RICO and civil forfeiture charges… and mostly lost.
It has been argued that some traditional laws consider mental state, such as First Degree Murder involving premeditation.
I don’t think it’s really a good analogy, but it’s a claim that is made.
I think a better argument against hate crimes is not that they involve mind-reading but that they set up a two-tiered system for victims. To use David’s example, we do draw a distinction between manslaughter and murder but that distinction is based on the criminal’s actions, not who the victim is. Similarly scentencing differences should reflect the criminal’s status (first offender, three strikes, etc) not the victim’s.
If a Klansman murders a white person he should not get a shorter sentence than if he murdered a black person.
I agree with both your intellectual understanding of the issue and your appreciation of the emotional complications. It does seem worse to commit a hate crime, because it seems to be a threat, and therefore a crime, against an entire class of people. We all notice such things. Even conservatives who deplore the notion of hate crimes will react more strongly against Antifa or radical Islamists acting against indiviuals with the clear intent of terrorising the group.
Yet five minutes thought reveals that this is impossible to police, impossible to judge, impossible to divine. Only a superhuman insight can discern motive. That, I think, sums up the problem. Those in favor of punishing hate speech haven’t given it five minutes thought.
The concept of a “Hate Crime” may be useful. Burning a cross on someones lawn is not a physical attack and usually does little property damage but it is a threat about political and/or social participation. Such a practice is worth some extra attention.
“Hate Speech”, is vert “thought crime” since it is justified as the *cause* of some under-performance by a favored demographic. “Hate Speech” is not “political disagreement”, so the theory goes, but is the mechanism by which those of “privilege” suppress and control those who are not performing as well as others.
Since all people are equally qualified [according to Leftist Theory] “something” must be causing under-performance of “Group X”. Obviously, that is “hate speech”.
More generally, the narrative always moves to the best and most just outcome therefore any disagreement *must* be due to hate. Life is much less stressful if all failures are *their* fault and no *rational* person challenges your pipe-dreams.
“Hate Speech” is a tool of totalitarians and those who never matured beyond the level found in most 6 year old children. “Hate Speech” is impossible to police where there are many large “children” running around but tyrants will always love to try. It is, after all, such a handy, adaptable tool to use against unbelievers.
“‘Hate Speech’ is a tool of totalitarians and those who never matured beyond the level found in most 6 year old children. “Hate Speech” is impossible to police where there are many large “children” running around but tyrants will always love to try. It is, after all, such a handy, adaptable tool to use against unbelievers.”
Exactly. It’s not like this should be a surprise to anyone. We’ve seen “hate speech” laws used selectively over and over again to punish outgroups while manifestations of hate by ingroups that are often much worse are studiously ignored. That tendency will never disappear because the ingroup/outgroup thing is a part of human nature, and won’t be going anywhere soon. Because of that aspect of our nature, “hate crime” laws will always do far more harm than good.
The fear in such communities was real, every bit as real as the threats, the vandalism, the lynch mobs, and disenfranchisement
Yeah, it was. The deliberate contamination of the blood supply by diseased homosexuals—not a hate crime. Zebra murders motivated by race—not a hate crime. The deliberate false accusations of rape—not a hate crime. The patrolling of ballot boxes by black hate groups—not a hate crime. No matter how much hate is involved.
My objection to “hate crimes” is that hatred remains acceptable as a motivation for crime—as long as the victims can be slandered by Leftist epithets.
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