Listening to the radio on the way to work this morning, I heard something that chilled me to my very core. I literally got a chill down my spine. I quite literally spoke out loud, “Oh, shit.”
It was a “top of the hour” news blurb about how the push for Hate Crimes legislation is gaining steam, being pushed through Congress to bring harsher penalties to those who commit crimes motivated by hate. You know, rather than the much nobler greed, anger, disinterest, or predatory exploitation. It’s HATE that we have to watch out for, right? I mean, in addition to all those “love crimes” we’ve got on the books. But I digress.
What really rocked me back on my heels was one sentence that came across towards the end of the sound bite. Some mouthpiece promoting the legislation spoke of trying to keep better track of “bias motivated events.”
Bias. Motivated. Events. Think about that fer just a sec.
In one swift and subtle movement, we knocked the edges off the definition of “hate crime” and squishy-coated it down into “bias motivated events.”
Can you see the inherent, insidious danger here?
If someone mugs a pedestrian, say, man dressed up in women’s clothes, does this constitute a hate crime? What is the burden of proof to say that the alleged criminal didn’t target this person because of their “lifestyle”. What if the crook took the dude’s predilections for frills and lace to suggest he might be an easy target. Not because the crook hated the tranny, but because he figured he/she might be an easy mark. Too effeminate to fight back, who knows?
Instead of 6 months, suspended, for attempted robbery, our felon gets 5 years because it’s a “hate crime.”
But wait. This goes back to prosecuting intent, rather than actions. If I further dumb this down to say that any “bias-motivated event” can be prosecuted, ANYTHING I DO that is motivated by my personal bias or worldview, can now become prosecutable.
Say a church decides that since Sally has decided to become Sam, that maybe we don’t want him/her teaching Sunday School anymore. Is that my right as a private institution, or is it now a hate crime, because it was motivated by a religious bias against Transgendereds? Not that we hate them, but just that we don’t want them teaching our sunday school class. That’s not hate, it’s bias. Instead of just being unfaaaaaaaair, is it now also a hate crime?
If I choose not to rent to a couple of guys because they look, act, and sound like belligerent gang bangers, can I be prosecuted for my “bias” against thugs who will likely wreck my rental?
If a pastor speaks out against men preying on boys for sexual exploitation, can I be prosecuted for a hate crime because of my BIAS?
This is an incredibly dangerous area, a slippery slope that, in the name of protecting rights, will end up destroying them. I mean, short of a diary, a blog post, or a text message, etc., how can you prove INTENT behind an individual’s action? Do gays, or blacks, or hispanics have special protections against crimes that others don’t? Shouldn’t all be equal under the law?
Robbery, murder, rape, arson. They are crimes. They are illegal. They shouldn’t be MORE illegal because of who the victim is. WHY I committed the crime might make me an asshole, a reporbate, a truly descpicable human being. Sadly, or thankfully, there’s no law (yet) against being an asshole. It is only the CRIME I commit which makes me a criminal, regardless of my motivations for it.
Isn’t that what this trend in hate crimes suggests? That eventually, what you THINK about a situation will have as much legal weight as what you actually DID about it?
Scary stuff. Beyond even 1984. Madness.