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Someone should care, maybe not you....

My thoughts on many things including the army, war, politics, the military corrections system, chaos, life, books, movies, and why there is no blue food. Feel free to comment on what I say. Feedback is nice.

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40+ year old former teacher, linguist, interrogator, soldier, and lastly convict. We all do stupid things every once and awhile. I am an economic conservative and a firm believer in civil rights. Starting a new life now and frankly not sure what I am going to be doing.

04 December 2006

Hate Crimes

Hate crimes. I know we have all heard of hate crimes and may even know people who have been affected by them I am hereby casting myself with a (probable) minority that think Hate Crime Legislation is BAD. Now, I am not saying that it is okay to go out and attack blacks, or gays, or whites, or anyone else. No, that kind of behavior is criminal and should be treated as such. But I have a real problem with laws that punish people for what they think. Have you heard the term “thought police”? This is what hates crime legislation creates. The state will seek you out and punish you, not necessarily for what you do, but for what you were supposedly thinking while you did it.
I can think of a few examples that I have read about on different blogs in the past year. (No, I am not going to go and find the blog and link it. Some of these posts are quite old and all of them are examples of many similar actions) In the most recent example a quiet soft spoken Hispanic gentleman saw some “rednecks” standing around his car in front of his house. He went out and told them to move on. When they reacted to his orders with the bellicosity and verbal abuse one can expect when dealing with groups of drunk young rednecks he, being non violent and outnumbered decided to beat a precipitous retreat and ran for the house. He tripped; they caught him, and proceeded to beat the tar out of him. (Injuring him quite badly in the process) Now they were arrested for assault as is correct and to be encouraged. But because they used some form of racial slur when yelling at him they are also being charged with a hate crime. Now I SERIOUSLY doubt these people set out to find a Hispanic person’s car, hang out at it and lure him in so they could pound on him. They would have done the same thing if he had been a quite soft spoken white guy who had confronted them and then turned and ran. But because the victim was a minority, it becomes a “Hate Crime” and they face much more serious prison time. So, the same crime could be committed, and one insult changes the punishment? I do not think this is right.
In another recent case a group of black teenage girls, attacked several white women, throwing pumpkins at them and hitting them with skateboards, and stealing their clothes and jewelry. These girls also used racial slurs while attacking. Now, one would think that given the precedent of the previous case and others like it, they would clearly be charged with a hate crime, they may be in the end but there is great debate on that issue because they are “an oppressed minority”. Believe it or not, there are many people who seriously believe that racism can ONLY occur with the majority against the minority. So, in their mind, these girls could not have committed a “Hate Crime” because, as an oppressed minority, they cannot be racist so it doesn’t apply. Now, I don’t think that they should be charged with a hate crime. I don’t think ANYONE should be charged with a hate crime. I think people should be charged, arrested, tried, and punished, if found guilty, for WHAT THEY DO, not what they may or may not think. In this country we have freedom of speech. The last time I read the Constitution of the United States there wasn’t any reference to a right not to be offended. If a person is a racist, sexist, homophobic, asshole you may shun him, you may scorn him, you may choose not to do business with him and encourage others not to do business with him either. You may write letters to the editor about him, comment on him in your blog, (but be careful you get into slander and libel while doing it) you may tell your children not to play with his children and make funny faces at him when he walks down the street. You can even get an injunction against him to keep him away from your house. But you may not have him arrested because it is his right to be a racist, sexist, homophobic, asshole. As long as he doesn’t hit you while he is doing it or otherwise infringe on your actual rights or your physical safety. And he calling you a name does not infringe on any of those. Even if he does it while hitting you. The hitting should be a crime, the name calling shouldn’t. And do please note, the “he” referenced above may be a she, and the homophobe maybe a hetrophobe (and yes, I have met a few of those), the racist may be of any race of mixture.
The thought police exist in this country; you can find them on university campuses, in malls, in the schools (public and private), in your churches, and on the radio. Some of them are liberals, some of them are conservatives. Anyone who tries to use the police powers of the state to tell the people how to THINK is just wrong. At least in my not so humble opinion. If you think otherwise, feel free to let me know.


Blogger Adrian said...

Well said bud. Well said.

Ironically, by making "hate crime" legislation, they have only further differentiated between cultures and groups, which can only further segregate the population groups further and single out groups for "special treatment". A potential (and realistic) consequence of this?

Resentment and animosity.

Not quite what they had in mind Im sure.

5:21 PM  
Blogger Serena said...

I'm still here, kinda...

10:03 AM  
Blogger exMI said...

Nice to see you again Serena. Hope all is well.

And yes Adrian, that is yet another sign of the rule of unintended consequences.

9:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well written and provocative - something you do well, by the way(which is why you made the first cut when I finally got around to creating a blogroll).

I have worked in inner-city hospitals, I know first hand that racism is a two-way street.

Working on trauma teams, I have seen the victims of hate crimes up close and personal. I've washed their blood out of my clothes and off my shoes. I've flown them through thunderstorms and been sure we were all going to die. I have raged when we lost our battle.

But I am still ambivalent.

If we start legislating emotions, where does it stop?

Maybe I would be less ambivalent if "state of mind" were considered at sentencing like it was in the old days, before we got enlightened, and started enlightening ourselves right out of our civil liberties.

But creating separate classes of crimes, along with more severe mandatory punishments, just for the thoughts that were present at the time of the crime, and they lose me.

Not all crimes are created equally. I think if I have to stake out a position, I would have to say consider state of mind at the time of the crime, but don't create a whole new class of crime with specious and fuzzy borders, and that can't be well defined. It makes me nervous.

We all think unkind and even horrible thoughts when we are upset and angry. We are human, and humans have a tremendous capacity for hatred. Most of us control it most of the time, and because we can do this, we have a society, tenuous as it might be.

But if I have a night from hell and go off on someone, I might deserve to lose my job, but I don't think I would deserve to go to jail for five minutes, let alone five years, because the problem I had was with an employee of another race. (In this imaginary scanario, I keep my hands to myself. And for the record, I've never lost it, but sometimes I've felt like I could in short order.)

My arch-enemy at one of the hospitals I used to work for got taken down by one of the people I used to supervise under a similar situation. Yeah, he was an insufferable prick, and he needed to be fired for a lot of reasons; but not the one, ironically, that got his ass bounced. He said a lot worse things to me than he did to her. He once said that if the Nazi's had just caught my grandmother I wouldn't be such a pain in his ass. That didn't get him fired, but calling a person who wasn't doing her job, who was leaving orders on the board and not collecting specimens a "lazy fatass" (in fairness, she weighs about 275 lbs, and she is lazy) who was endangering patients, and he gets bounced for being a racist?

7:46 PM  
Blogger opit said...

Sounds righteous to me.
Law that is not clearly and unequivocally dealing with physical evidence is of dubious provenance to begin with. The state seems to have recognized age as a valid guide of responsibility : other criteria are usually developed through expert testimony - a whole 'nother can o' worms.
Usually law that is inconsistent and/or relative to persons involved is a good candidate for being considered unwise and/or unworkable.

8:17 PM  
Blogger exMI said...

BG - Thanks for coming. Personally I feelthe Nazi comment is worse thatn the fatass commnet but you probably din't go screaming about racism to his superiors. (for which I salute you)

Opit - Age used to be a valid guide for responsibility. Now you are responsible for much less at much oldre ages unless you commit certtain crimes in which case you are suddenly responsible at much younger ages. Yet another of our societies really stupid actions.

9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, I didn't, but someone else tipped HR about it and I had to fill out an incident report that went in his file. Under the "Karma's a Bitch (and so am I) category: I was a supervisor in another department, and right after that incident, I drew his department to random monitor as part of QAPI, and I made his life miserable, and I enjoyed myself while doing it.

7:53 PM  
Blogger Adrian said...

"Age used to be a valid guide for responsibility. Now you are responsible for much less at much older ages unless you commit certain crimes in which case you are suddenly responsible at much younger ages."

Well said EXMI, the world surely has been turned upside down by these silly clowns we call lawmakers.

3:14 AM  

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