We've been reporting on the Lonnie Rae case for some time. He's the Idaho man who was charged with a "hate crime" for calling a man who assaulted his wife a very bad word. (See the press release from his lawyer, Edgar Steele Say The "N" Word And Go To Jail.)
The Idaho Press-Tribune reported at the time (October 2000):
Rae's wife, Kim, was covering the game as a freelance reporter and photographer for the Adams County Record. After the game, she tried to take pictures of the referees because she thought it would add to her story.
When she continued to snap pictures after the referees had asked her to stop, one of the officials, Ken Manley of Boise, was reported to have grabbed the camera and pulled it, causing the strap to burn Kim Rae's neck.
The two were separated and the referees entered the locker room. Witnesses said Lonnie Rae began yelling at Manley, who is black, and repeatedly called him the "N-word." Rae declined to comment Monday.
Although Rae never actually touched Kenneth Manley, there was talk of giving him up to five years in jail under Idaho's anti-hate-crime statutes, the issue being the racism implicit in the slur (See my earlier article Diversity vs. Freedom in Idaho: Race Relations Industry Enters Spanish Inquisition Phase).
The latest development: a judge has actually sentenced him to seven days in jail. Rae's lawyer, Edgar Steele, persuaded the judge to defer the actual execution of the sentence while it is being appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court.
Briefly, Rae was found not guilty of Malicious Harassment by the Idaho jury. But the judge seems to have felt that he should be found guilty of something, so that he added the idea of "assault" as lesser included offence in the summing up period, after the trial was over - somewhat like A.P. Herbert's fictional English Judge who said:
It is a principle of English law that a person who appears in a police court has done something undesirable.
Liberty is not very well understood by judges. And they have the power to make their ideas law. The same fictional English Judge I quoted above, faced with the assertion by a defendant that "this was a free country and a man can do what he likes if he does nobody any harm," replied:
It cannot be too clearly understood that this is not a free country, and it will be an evil day for the legal profession when it is. The citizens of London must realize that there is almost nothing that they are allowed to do. Prima facie all actions are illegal, if not by Act of Parliament, by Order in Council; and if not by Order in Council, by Departmental or Police Regulations, or By-Laws. They may not eat where they like, drink where they like, walk where they like, drive where they like, sit where they like, or sleep where they like.
Or say what they like, of course.
England was never as free a country as America (and it's getting worse), but America is supposed to be run on different lines.
Previous coverage of the Lonnie Rae case:
February 07, 2002