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What about anti-hate crimes?

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If hate crimes are exceptionally objectionable, deserving of especially harsh punishment, then what about anti-hate crimes? Do we go a little easier on them?

I'd say no, of course not. People can't go around cracking heads in the name of anti-racism.

But if we're being strictly logical here, shouldn't this be treated as a lesser crime?

I got to thinking about this after reading about that group of people from Indiana, supposedly on an anti-hate mission, who allegedly charged into a Tinley Park restaurant Saturday and beat up a bunch of diners they thought were white supremacists.

We'll leave it to the lawyers to figure out if anybody really was a white supremacist and who beat up whom. But if the facts eventually bear out the claim -- that the motivation for these alleged crimes was, weirdly enough, anti-racism -- do we cut the defendants a break?

At the heart of the question is a skepticism, held by many Americans who are properly appalled by racism, about the whole notion of creating a class of hate crimes -- against minorities and gays and others -- that by statute establish enhanced penalties. They are uneasy that hate crimes criminalize not only acts, but the thoughts behind those acts.

The proper time to consider a defendant's motivations for better or worse, they say, is only after he or she has been convicted and is being sentenced. A judge or jury, for example, typically will go easy on a woman who killed her husband after years of being abused.

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The Tinley Park restaurant attack meets the textbook definition of a hate crime (the diners were attacked because they were white).

You can't attack a group of black people because they were practicing some black pride. Whether or not they are Panthers or NAACP, it would be unacceptable by the hate crime standards. No KKK thugs would get away claiming that "race" didn't motivate their attack but only the "racial pride" of the victims or their willingness to organize as people of a common heritage.

That said, I oppose hate crime legislation and do not believe we should organize ourselves along racial or "heritage" lines. Did the Irish or European Heritage Group make a mistake? We would know that if a black or asian of Irish or European heritage (and there are many who qualify if for no other reason of mixed parentage) AND IF THEY WERE EXCLUDED on the grounds of race - not heritage - then there might be cause to think the victims were racially exclusive. Thus far, it is speculative.

"We'll leave it to the lawyers to figure out if anybody really was a white supremacist and who beat up whom."

The so-called "anti-racist" group has claimed credit for the attack. That is settleed. Whether or not the victims were supremacists is irrelevant except to the extent that it proves the hate crime of the attackers.

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This page contains a single entry by Tom McNamee published on May 23, 2012 5:20 PM.

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