Liberating America (A New  Series): Hate Crimes Laws Must Go
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With the federal indictment of a man last week for the murder of two lesbians in a national park six years ago, "hate crimes" are suddenly back in the national news. The Washington Post splattered the story all over its front page the day after the indictment was handed down, [Gay Bias Charged In Deaths (Washington Post) Page A01, Apr 11, 2002] and the New York Times carried it in its national news section the same day.

But, as I have noted before, paraphrasing George Orwell, not all hatred is by any means equal.

Hate motivating crimes against blacks, Hispanics, homosexuals and women makes the front page and gets the Attorney General of the United States (even right-leaning ones like John Ashcroft) palpitating from their pulpits about how "we will pursue, prosecute and punish those who attack law-abiding Americans out of hatred for who they are," as Mr. Ashcroft thundered when the alleged ladykiller was indicted.

We wouldn't want anyone to think Republicans are any less opposed to "hate" than Democrats, would we?

But the hate that dare not be reported at all, at least outside the local area, is hate directed against plain old white, heterosexual, Christian, native American men—the kind that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this year, where—despite the arresting police officer's clear statement that a series of violent assaults on white males by blacks was driven by race—prosecuting authorities finally decided, after being lobbied by the NAACP and local black churches, not to prosecute the attacks as hate crimes.

In case you didn't know, that decision sent a message. The message was that it's open season on whites, that blacks can attack, assault and maybe even murder white people for transparent reasons of racial animosity and they will not be charged with hate crimes.

In Mobile, Alabama, the message may have been received. The Mobile Register reports [April 16 - story no longer on line] the following story about events that took place on March 25:

"John McDow, who is white, said at least three black males singled him out as he sat in the back of his pickup, waiting for friends at a convenience store.... 'There were several trucks riding up and down the strip flying rebel flags, and there were some black guys who had bats and sticks and were pulling the flags off' the trucks, said McDow.... he said a group of black youths pulled into the parking lot, challenged him, and then struck him, knocking him from his truck to the pavement."

Mr. McDow was not seriously hurt, but the attack on him was a crime and apparently was racially motivated. So it's a hate crime, right?

Wrong. "Any time you get that many people together, you are going to have some problems," a local police officer explained to the press. "It's not really a racial problem; it's a people problem. People say things they shouldn't say, and it leads to other things."

Of course, that's not what the victim says happened, is it? No one "said" anything, but a gang of blacks showed up armed with weapons apparently looking for trouble with whites because of the perfectly legal Confederate flags they sported. As for "problems" being unavoidable when "you get that many people together," that's not true either.

Police and prosecutors have learned that charging blacks with "hate crimes" against whites is simply more trouble than it's worth. You get visited by the NAACP and the local platoon of the Thought Police, and you may get your name splashed all over the local papers as a "racist" cop who sides with whites against non-whites. Therefore, police today will invoke almost any excuse, any rationalization, any outright lie about and misrepresentation of what really happened and why to avoid charging non-whites with crimes against whites motivated by "hate."

The remedy for what is by now a transparent and dangerous double standard in the identification and prosecution of "hate crimes" is not to demand that non-whites be prosecuted for hate crimes as much and as often as whites but to get rid of the whole concept of "hate crime" entirely.

There is no other criminal offense in which punishment is enhanced simply because of the motivation of the crime. Nor is there any good reason why "hate" as a motive makes a crime worse than greed or lust or anger or any other motivating passion, nor why "hate" of a specific group is worse than hate of a specific individual whom you attack or kill (your wife, your mother-in-law, your neighbor).

The whole concept of "hate crime" contains neither ethical nor legal merit. Instead of expanding it, as will be demanded in the wake of the federal indictment last week, Congress should get rid of it and the statutes that embody it, and the Justice Department should simply refuse to enforce it.


April 22, 2002

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