Posted by: JDM..... | August 21, 2012

The “Hate Crime” designation….

a logical outcome of Congressional inbreeding………

Government continues to assail the impossible task of sifting through obnoxious behaviors in order to sort them into neat piles of Criminal Activity, Legal Ignorance, and something akin to Charles Manson’s notoriously unintelligible nonsense rant.

Where does one draw the line between one and the next? That’s an interesting question, the best answer to which would be to borrow a line from former President Bill Clinton and declare that it “depends on what the definition of line is.”

Understanding the Quixotic attraction of government to such self-contradicting campaigns requires that one look no further than the environment in which that government plies its trade. Those who launched this government more than two hundred years ago presumably knew this, although, admittedly, I have never spoken with any of them directly to earn the moral authority to speak on their behalf and endow my opinion with any higher credentials than those of the next guy.

While accepted jurisprudence states that “ignorance of the law is no excuse”, I would suggest that “an ignorant law is no excuse” either. Ibid the Bill Clinton line.

That said, the target of my Quibble of the Day is none other than the indelibly popular, albeit oxymoronic, “Hate Crime” concept that has given rise to the most ridiculous of legislated litmus tests since the dunking of spinsters to determine whether or not they were witches and thus, by default, agents of the devil.

What demanded my attention this morning was the headline ”Bacon scattered at NY Ramadan celebration probed as hate crime.”. My first response after rolling my eyes was to mutter “Only in New York”, but that’s not exactly true even though bizarre behavior is requisite in that city. Despite centuries, nay, millennia even, of sage advice to the contrary, the anointed of the twenty first century have largely demoted Noah Webster to the credibility quotient of an eighth dwarf. “Newspeak” is here, hale and hearty, and it is neither funny nor a good read.

Any one of a number of statutes exists under which the actor(s) could be charged, including littering, but “hate”? I can only imagine what might be in the cards had the bad-boy behavior been perpetrated against a Muslim chapter of P.E.T.A. Why is chanting ignorant and hurtful nastiness at the funeral of a dead soldier “free speech” and pitching pork at a living breathing Muslim a “hate crime”, and why is that worse than a plain old garden variety “crime”? I’m an agnostic who was Baptized Congregationalist and raised Presbyterian. What if I drop a hamburger on the steps of a Catholic church on Friday afternoon?

Which brings me to the dubious designation of “Hate crimes” in the first place; in the past I have asked “as opposed to what, “Love crime? ” I have pointed an accusing finger….without specifying which one….at those among us for whom muddling around in such pedantry is tantamount to oxygen, at those who benefit in some manner from waving the “Hate” card, at insects building their nests more than four feet off the ground, yet I suspect it is more a matter of “all of the above”, plus the rest of us for yawning and walking away because we didn’t stand to either profit or suffer injury from it.

We all suffer from it, truth be known, but not due to “Hatred” by any stretch of the imagination, except perhaps on the part of those who could complicate the letter “a” into everything from threats of assault to the evolution of freckles in mice. We suffer from it because it is part of the progressive erosion of character that suggests that more and more of us may be feeling a sense of homesickness for the Primordial Ooze after all.

Let me make myself indisputably clear. There is no such thing as a “Hate” crime. Like various body noises, why one gives life to one is of little importance. It is the act itself, and the ensuing consequences to others, that defines the offense. College students may have painstakingly parsed out the taxonomy of 100 varieties of flatulence, but that can be forgiven as cerebral aerobics in preparation for more serious endeavors post graduation. Besides, it’s funny. Judging the severity of one’s allegedly criminal behavior on the basis of what he or she is presumed to have been thinking at the time or according to third party assessment of the offender’s personal beliefs, record of library activity, taste or lack thereof in clothing, knowledge of which wine goes best with hot dogs, or the final orientation of a fistful of bones thrown into the dirt is not funny. Nor is it informative, or even rational for that matter.

With a level of irony that would amaze even O’Henry, prosecuting a person for stealing a widget because he allegedly “hated” the rightful owner differently than one would prosecute the same act committed simply on the basis of “want” or antisocial incorrigibility could in its own right be construed as a hate-based act.

Aligning oneself with such a politically “incorrect” view, of course …..
(Visualize the Vonage television commercial in which the neighbors smilingly admonish the new residents that “we ALL bundle….”.)
….., constitutes a presumed confession of everything from Naziism to eating salad with your fingers at a five star restaurant.

Nevertheless, I so align. I reject the entire concept of a “Hate” crime. It’s a self-neutralizing contradiction, since “crime” is an observable and measurable quantity, dependent upon the existing body of law, while “hate” is entirely subjective. An act becomes a crime or sheds that mantle through a prescribed process. At what identifiable point in time does a presumed set of beliefs, values, or an attitude begin to meet the rather broad criteria for definition as “hate”, and when or how does it achieve the daylight of acceptance or at least of tolerance?

“Hate”, it would appear, in the realm of present day interpretations of law, is basically a tool of convenience as well as a profitable piece of leverage. It is convenient because it capitalizes on the energy of mob psychology to complicate essentially simple matters of right and wrong into the establishment of levels of tacit permission to offend according to blatantly discriminatory criteria. It is profitable because it provides jet fuel to the litigations of some while limiting those of others to low octane lawnmower juice, again according to blatantly discriminatory criteria.

Should those who harbor less than warm affections for ones of not so clearly identified super-classes (as opposed to sub-classes) holler “I love (fill in the clearly identified super-class)!!!” before killing a person, stealing his lunch money, insulting his sister, or perhaps for failing to demonstrate “appropriate respect” by yielding the right of way on a city sidewalk? Those who just groaned will be the first to support such asininity.

Rather than facilitating a waning of values generally seen as obnoxious and objectionable by the majority of those in the society, such a misguided approach has the inadvertent secondary consequence of creating an expanding population of groups seeking and achieving super-class designation, while those previously basking in the sun at the Top of the Heap are dispatched to the bottom. It doesn’t change anything except hats and who wears them.

I’ve never understood why causing intentional harm while allegedly “hating” another was significantly different from causing intentional harm while simply not giving a damn. Not quite fifty years ago, while in college, I was confronted while taking a late night short cut back to my off-campus residence by a person who took umbrage at my having the audacity to wear a fraternity jacket while walking on “his” street. The damage would have been far worse had a police officer not witnessed the entire interaction and pulled the guy off of me. The fact that the guy despised those of the fraternity persuasion didn’t make me bleed any more or less than would have been the case had he pummeled me simply because it was Wednesday or just because he felt like it. His personal politics, if you will, made him a jerk. His actions made him a criminal.

If we have reached the point where it is against the law to be a jerk, then we may be on thinner ice than we like to believe.



  1. As a server I am now nervous that I might be accused of a hate crime if I suggest an entree that has bacon in it to my customers. If the person is a Muslim or a vegetarian, they could call their lawyer and sue me for being hostile to their beliefs!

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