As I noted on Friday, the opponents of the Hate Crimes Bill, S.909, which was injected into the Defense Appropriations Bill, S.1390 early that morning, are now in the surprising position of being supported by the ACLU: Senate Passes Hate Crimes Amendment Lacking Free Speech And Association Protections ACLU.org (7/17/2009)
Unless amended to block evidence of speech and association not specifically related to a crime, the Senate hate crimes amendment could chill constitutionally protected speech and association. An otherwise unremarkable violent crime should not become a federal hate crime simply because the defendant visited the wrong website, belonged to a group espousing bigotry, or subscribed to a magazine promoting discriminatory views, however wrong and repugnant those beliefs may be.
Just how valid the ACLU's concerns are is well illustrated by a thoughtful post Hate is the Name of the Game In Crime Dianediamond.net 20 July 2009
Diane Diamond is an extremely experienced reporter and writer on criminal matters, and she displays here some objectivity - which is probably the reason she seems never to have broken into the MSM big leagues:
Let's talk about hate. Hate crimes to be specific. By definition these are crimes perpetrated by someone who targets another based on their race, color, religion or national origin...The goal is to add extra punishment for those convicted under hate crimes statutes.
Speaking of the popular recent examples of "hate" crimes Diamond comments:
...odious crimes to be sure. But why label them hate crimes when we already have strict laws against murder?... why should an attack on a homosexual or a minority be worth more punishment than a similar attack on a regular Joe?...Hate crime legislation is based on a person's motivation for committing a crime. Declaring there is hate in a person's heart when they act in a criminal fashion seems to be a shaky proposition to me. We should stick to punishing people for what they do - not what we believe they were thinking at the time of the crime.
So far so good. Unfortunately Diamond is no Daniel come to Judgment. Her only concern is that she thinks there are more practical methods to suppress the holders of certain opinions:
I'm left thinking it would be more productive to expend energy figuring out how to prevent crime or on how to treat and re-program the criminal offender...The FBI recently stepped up its efforts to ferret out festering extremists with a program called "Operation Vigilant Eagle". It's designed to closely monitor those who run hate filled internet sites or belong to white supremacy and militia groups. To me, attacking hate at its breeding ground like that makes much better sense than slapping obvious labels on crimes perpetrators commit. Hate is the name of the game when it comes to crime. We don't need a fancy label on it. We need to figure out how to make it socially unacceptable.
Operation Vigilant Eagle has been discussed in The Wall Street Journal Veterans a Focus of FBI Extremist Probe By CAM SIMPSON and GARY FIELDS APRIL 17, 2009 and virtually nowhere else. (Attention was successfully deflected by a stupid subsequent DHS memo which appeared to contemplate monitoring all veterans, a tactic also evident in the WSJ headline.) The WSJ did not mention websites: but I think one should respect Diamond's professionalism as a Reporter.
Note the lack of reference to Islamic, Black Muslim, or even JDL-type outfits. Unquestionably the determination of what are "hate filled websites or...white supremacy...groups" will be outsourced to those paragons of judicial integrity, the ADL and the SPLC (to us, $PLC) - which are already far too involved in law enforcement.
That means that as well as ourselves and the Rev. Ted Pike, the cowardly plutocrats of the Immigration Reform movement, FAIR, NumbersUSA and the CIS will get attacked, despite having hidden from the fight over the Hate Crime Bill.
(The Rev. Ted Pike has posted an assessment of the Hate Crime Bill situation, in which he demonstrates that the mainstream Evangelical outfits were more interested in avoiding association with him than in opposing the Bill - because they were afraid of the ADL.)