Thursday, April 26, 2007

Who is Legislating Morality Now?

I hate racism. My parents raised their children not to see other people for their race, wealth, or outward appearance, but to treat everyone the same. The idea of using violence against someone because of they are different is difficult for me even to consider. Hate someone for their their religion or sexual orientation? How silly. Even sillier is hating someone for their race or gender, something over which they have no control.

The Congressional majority appears to be filled with race-baiters and fearmongers. Unfortunately, they aren't content merely to stir up trouble, like other race-baiting fearmongers. No, these folks want to assert federal authority to prosecute based on their perceptions of your perceptions. What race-baiting fearmongers think you are thinking will become the standard by which your actions will be judged.

The standard drumbeat from the left for years has been that the right is ... I won't use the phrase involving throats ... trying to pass laws to legislate morality. As if anyone ever tried to pass a law they considered immoral. But now, a veritable stampede of House Democrats are trying to turn people into non-racist, non-sexist, and otherwise legislate their version of morality.

HR 1592, like all thought crime laws, would make some crimes more illegal if you're thinking certain illegal thoughts while you commit them. It also extends the Federal hate crime definition to include sexual orientation and gender.

Motive is always a dispositive factor in finding a person guilty or not guilty of a crime. The same physical action can be considered

  • A crime
  • Not a crime for reason of self-defense
  • Not a crime for reason of insanity
  • A reckless accident
  • An unforeseeable accident, or
  • An act of heroics
depending on the motivation for the action.

Suppose two men argue over something -- a poker game, a girl, or a seat on the subway. Things get heated, and one of them calls the other an ethnic or sexual slur. Their argument becomes a brawl, and soon it escalates into a kill-or-be-killed battle.

Now, at this point, one of them is guilty of using physical violence, while the other is guilty of a hate crime. But which one? The one who used the ethnic slur merely used words.
Sticks and stones
May break my bones,
But words will never hurt me.
But the one who responded to the ethnic slur is filled with hate, and is committing a crime based on the perceived or actual race of his victim. Or maybe it was all about the poker game and testosterone. Tough to tell, isn't it? Are their actions really any different?

Hate crime laws aim to make certain crimes more strongly punished than other crimes, depending on the thoughts behind the motivation. While it's often difficult enough to judge whether someone intended to commit a crime or was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, that's a simple matter compared to deciding whether someone was motivated by greed, blood lust, hunger, or some kind of group hate.

Suppose it was some of all of those?

Suppose a person commits a crime that is 90% intended to acquire enough money to buy a nicer stereo, but has the added benefit of showing some member of a protected group a "lesson". Is that still just as bad as if the entire motivation were motivated by group hatred?

What about a fellow who harms someone of a different race, motivated 99% to protect himself, but oh, there was a tiny bit of racial animosity stirred up by the very need to defend himself. Is his self-defense invalidated because he had illegal thoughts in the heat of the battle?

Since these laws are not enforced equally, they violate the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection.

The logical generalization of hate crime laws is to make sentences proportional to the level of group animosity that motivated the crime, regardless of the group or the crime. Democrats ought to love that, since they make their living keeping people labelled and divided into groups.

Maybe if we stop paying so much attention to the color of people's skin and what they do behind closed doors, we'll start to get along a little better.

Sphere: Related Content

No comments:

Blog stats

Add to Technorati Favorites