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Hate Crimes, Freedom Of Speech, And Equal Protection Of The Law

Handcuffs Jail

In a post today over at PJ Media, Jazz Shaw responds to my post this past weekend about hate crimes that was raised by the case of  Fraizer Glenn Miller, the former KKK member who killed three people at Jewish community centers in Kansas City on Palm Sunday. Since Jazz and I had discussed this issue on Twitter a bit after my post went public, I knew that he would disagree with me in some respects, and I recommend that you read the piece in its entirety rather than just the excerpts that I’m going to discuss here. Nonetheless, the post raises a couple points on the issue of hate crimes in general that I ought to be expanded upon.

Upon hearing each of these points I immediately rise up on my hind legs and say no, no, a thousand times no. And as I move toward my conclusion of this missive I would first draw the attention of all purveyors of such opinions to the four words inscribed in stone over the doors of the Supreme Court of the United States of America. EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW.

Those four words, when combined with the very first freedom which the Founders chose to inscribe in the Bill of Rights, should be enough to sweep away all of the arguments foisted above like flotsam in the stream. Attempting, as Doug does, to brush off arguments against the thought police by claiming that additional charges are simply a sentence enhancement should be antithetical to any person claiming to support the Constitution. The thoughts or speech taking place while a crime is in process, be they ever so horrid to reasonable persons, are not a crime. In fact, they are specifically protected. It’s why we have to issue permits to the Klan when they march, allow the revolting members of Westboro Baptist Church to spew their evil bile against the Honored Dead and tolerate anarchists who protest the G-8 summits proclaiming that capitalism is the source of all evil. What you think or believe, no matter how horrendous to civilized minds, is protected. And charging criminals in an additional fashion for their thoughts is in direct contradiction to the Bill of Rights.

There is something about this argument that is compelling, of course. There ought to be nothing more vile than punishing people for their thoughts and, if that’s really what hate crime laws are doing, then that would raise a serious objection to them notwithstanding any arguments that might exist regarding why they might good policy. There are, however, two major problems with this argument. First, it’s simply not the case that hate crimes laws punish thought and, second, there’s really no merit to the argument that such laws violate the Bill of Rights in any respect.

Long before hate crime laws ever existed the law already made distinctions based upon what was going through a persons mind at the time they committed a crime, or in the time immediately preceding it. This is why there are distinctions in the law between murder, manslaughter, and negligent homicide (and in some states, distinctions between Murder in the First and Second Degree). To a large degree the differences between these three categories of homicide are based upon what a person may have been thinking, or not thinking at the time a criminal act was committed. There are also another entire category crimes such as attempted murder where inferences about a defendants thoughts and intentions are an essential part of the fact finding process. Mental state is also a very relevant issue when it comes to many categories of criminal defenses, including the classic “crime of passion,” which could potentially reduce a charge of murder to manslaughter for example.  Intention, or though, always plays a role in the civil law system in the distinction between negligence and intentional torts. When legislatures passed laws providing for more severe sentences for crimes committed where their is evidence of racial, religious, or gender animus, then, they weren’t doing anything all that revolutionary. The law has always taken the thoughts a person has when committing a criminal act into account, although in the end it is the act that they are being punished for rather than the thoughts that they may have had. 

This is true of hate crimes laws as much as it is of the laws that distinguish between various forms of homicide. If Miller is charged with a hate crime in connection with the three murders he is charged with, it is not the thoughts in his head about Jewish people that will determine his fate but the acts that he committed. If Miller really were being punished for his thoughts, then the statutes in question would apply independently of whether or not an underlying crime has been committed. That, however, is not the case. Without exception, the hate crimes laws that exist in this country require an underlying criminal act (murder, attempted murder, assault, rape, etc) have been committed. Although it’s not going to happen, if it did turn out that Miller were acquitted of the shootings then it would be impossible to convict him of hate crimes, at least at the state level. Since the commission of a violent crime is a prerequisite for a hate crime law to even apply, it’s simply not the case that such laws punish thought rather than action. Instead, what they do is punish action while providing for a potentially more severe sentence if it is proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the crime in question was motivated by bias.

Given that it’s the act that we’re punishing here rather than the though, it should be axiomatic that hate crime laws do not violate the First Amendment and, indeed, that is what a unanimous Supreme Court decided in 1993 in Wisconsin v. Mitchell. In that case, the court was reviewing a challenging to Wisconsin’s hate crimes statute by a Defendant who contended that it violated both the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the First Amendment. Speaking to the First Amendment issue, the Court, in a opinion written by Chief Justice Rehnquist, rejected that argument out of hand.

[T]here remains to be considered Mitchell’s argument that the Wisconsin statute is unconstitutionally overbroad because of its “chilling effect” on free speech. Mitchell argues (and the Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed) that the statute is “overbroad” because evidence of the defendant’s prior speech or associations may be used to prove that the defendant intentionally selected his victim on account of the victim’s protected status. Consequently, the argument goes, the statute impermissibly chills free expression with respect to such matters by those concerned about the possibility of enhanced sentences if they should in the future commit a criminal offense covered by the statute. We find no merit in this contention.

The sort of chill envisioned here is far more attenuated and unlikely than that contemplated in traditional “overbreadth” cases. We must conjure up a vision of a Wisconsin citizen suppressing his unpopular bigoted opinions for fear that if he later commits an offense covered by the statute, these opinions will be offered at trial to establish that he selected his victim on account of the victim’s protected status, thus qualifying him for penalty enhancement. To stay within the realm of rationality, we must surely put to one side minor misdemeanor offenses covered by the statute, such as negligent operation of a motorvehicle (Wis. Stat. § 941.01 (1989-1990)); for it is difficult, if not impossible, to conceive of a situation where such offenses would be racially motivated. We are left, then, with the prospect of a citizen suppressing his bigoted beliefs for fear that evidence of such beliefs will be introduced against him at trial if he commits a more serious offense against person or property. This is simply too speculative a hypothesis to support Mitchell’s overbreadth claim.

The First Amendment, moreover, does not prohibit the evidentiary use of speech to establish the elements of a crime or to prove motive or intent. Evidence of a defendant’s previous declarations or statements is commonly admitted in criminal trials subject to evidentiary rules dealing with relevancy, reliability, and the like. Nearly half a century ago, in Haupt v. United States, 330 U.S. 631(1947), we rejected a contention similar to that advanced by Mitchell here. Haupt was tried for the offense of treason, which, as defined by the Constitution (Art. III, § 3), may depend very much on proof of motive. To prove that the acts in question were committed out of “adherence to the enemy” rather than “parental solicitude,” id., at 641, the Government introduced evidence of conversations that had taken place long prior to the indictment, some of which consisted of statements showing Haupt’s sympathy with Germany and Hitler and hostility towards the United States. We rejected Haupt’s argument that this evidence was improperly admitted. While “[s]uch testimony is to be scrutinized with care to be certain the statements are not expressions of mere lawful and permissible difference of opinion with our own government or quite proper appreciation of the land of birth,” we held that “these statements . . . clearly were admissible on the question of intent and adherence to the enemy.” Id., at 642. See also Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228, 251-252 (1989) (plurality opinion) (allowing evidentiary use of defendant’s speech in evaluating Title VII discrimination claim); Street v. New York, 394 U.S. 576, 594 (1969).

This mind you, was a decision in which the most liberal members and the most conservative members of the early 1990s Rehnquist Court were united, not even Justices Scalia or Thomas registered a dissent.  And, in essence, what the court is saying here is that the argument that hate crimes law are somehow similar to the law that was at issue in the Westboro Baptist Church case simply doesn’t have any merit. A defendant convicted of a hate crime is being punished for what he did, not merely for what he thought.

Later in the post, Shaw unleashes another attack against hate crime laws, using the example of the Matthew Shepard case, which inspired a Federal hate crimes law:

On that fateful night, Shepard was dragged out into the wilderness, robbed, beaten, tortured and left for dead… all ostensibly because his attackers knew he was gay. (Yes, there have been questions raised about that aspect of the crime, but that doesn’t affect this discussion.) Let us say that another young man in a different bar ran into a different pair of monstrous miscreants and was treated the same. But in this alternate story, the attackers decided that the victim looked “too rich” for their tastes. Not only was he a potentially fruitful target for robbery, but in the minds of the degenerates stalking him, he had that rich boy look about him and was just the sort of person who was in need of a frightful lesson.

If the story comes to the same tragic end for the rich boy, since he does not fall into any favored demographic, less resources may be dispatched to apprehend his killers. And when captured, a lesser punishment will be handed down, since they were “only” guilty of robbery, torture and murder… not hating him for the right reasons.

Is this justice? Is his life worth less because he doesn’t qualify for some pigeonhole definition? Should fewer law enforcement resources be put to the apprehension of his killers or less satisfaction to his family be delivered in the form of a lesser sentence? The answer to all of these questions is no. This is not Equal Justice Under Law. It is selective enforcement and punishment, placing a higher value on one victim’s life than another. And the only justification given for this thumb on the judicial scale is based entirely on the reprehensible yet protected thoughts and beliefs of the attackers.

In the end, this is a policy argument over which reasonable people can disagree.

As I stated in my original post, hate crime laws came about largely because the nation, as expressed by the actions of state and federal legislators elected by the people, made the determination that crimes motivated by racial, gender, or religious bias were a serious enough problem that the state needed to enact laws providing for more serious punishment for violent crimes motivated by such bias. There would certainly seem to be enough evidence in our history to support that conclusion, both in the past and at the time that hate crimes laws were first adopted in the late 1980s and early 1990s. That isn’t to say that crimes committed without biased intent arent’ serious, of course. Indeed, the miscreants who assaulted and killed Shaw’s hypothetical rich boy would be punished just as severely as the ones who attacked and killed Shepard deserved to be. The fact that the second group of criminals may have been punished a little bit more severely because of why they did what they did is just a byproduct of how the criminal justice system has differentiated between different types of offenses for hundreds of years.

Although he doesn’t state it directly in the excerpt above, Shaw also seems to be making the argument that these laws violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment because of the distinction made between crimes based on whether or not the victim is a member of a “protected class.” Even accepting for the sake of argument the merit of this characterization of the laws, the argument still fails. The Equal Protection Clause and the case law that has interpreted it since its adoption does not necessarily forbid all discriminatory treatment. Instead, it requires that the government have some justification for unequal treatment that outweighs the perceived right to be treated equally. Depending on the type of discrimination at issue in a particular case, the law is subjected to differing levels of scrutiny ranging from the low-level “rational basis” test, which merely requires that there be some rational basis for the unequal treatment, to so-called “strict scrutiny,” which requires there be a compelling government interest and that the law be narrowly tailored to achieve that interest.

In the case of hate crimes law, the Supreme Court addressed the Equal Protection arguments in Wisconsin v. Mitchell, which I already made note of above:

[T]he Wisconsin statute singles out for enhancement bias inspired conduct because this conduct is thought to inflict greater individual and societal harm. For example, according to the State and its amici, bias motivated crimes are more likely to provoke retaliatory crimes, inflict distinct emotional harms on their victims, and incite community unrest. See, e. g., Brief for Petitioner 24-27; Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae 13-15;Brief for Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law asAmicus Curiae 18-22; Brief for the American Civil Liberties Union as Amicus Curiae 17-19; Brief for the Anti Defamation League et al. as Amici Curiae 9-10; Brief for Congressman Charles E. Schumer et al. as Amici Curiae 8-9. The State’s desire to redress these perceived harms provides an adequate explanation for its penalty enhancement provision over and above mere disagreement with offenders’ beliefs or biases. As Blackstone said long ago, “it is but reasonable that among crimes of different natures those should be most severely punished, which are the most destructive of the public safety and happiness.” 4 W. Blackstone, Commentaries *16.

In other words, while there may be some unequal treatment in the case of hate crimes law the government’s reason for that treatment is sufficient justification for the treatment. There are no valid Constitutional objections to hate crime laws.

There are several issues related to hate crimes laws that are worth debating.

For example, the statute that Miller might be charged under in Kansas is a Federal Law against hate crimes that was passed in 2009. Except for situations involving crimes on Federal property or against Federal officials, it has generally not been the case that murder is a crime that is tried in a Federal Court and it’s not at all clear to me that Federal jurisdiction needed to be expanded in this manner. Indeed, to date there have only been two challenges to the 2009 law in Federal Courts, both of which have been dismissed. At some point, it would be helpful for the Supreme Court to address the law given the fact that it was a rather prominent example of what seems like the inappropriate expansion of Federal Law into areas traditionally left to the state.

Additionally, as Michael McGough of the L.A. Times noted in the post I responded to on Sunday, there are legitimate questions about just how far would should expand the “protected class” that hate crimes laws concern themselves with. The original hate crimes laws covered bias toward people based on race, religion, and gender, but in recent years there have been calls to expand that definition to cover everything from sexual orientation to age, veterans status, and physical and mental disabilities. Given the fact that the laws were originally intended to single out special classes of crimes or extra punishment, expanding them in this manner seems to work against the very purpose of the laws to begin with. If we get to the point where virtually every crime could be classified and charged as a “hate crime,” then what have we really accomplished.

As a broad point, though, I don’t think there’s really anything wrong per se with the idea of punishing people more severely if they commit crimes based on bias toward minorities. For one thing, here are plenty of examples throughout history to show us that such violence can have its own destructive impact on society above and beyond the actual crime committed. For another, it’s hard to have much sympathy for someone like Miller who went out and shot a bunch of people because of his animus toward Jewish people. If he gets punished a little more severely because of that, then maybe it will send a message to others who hold views like this that, while they have every right to hate someone because of their race or religion, there’s a price to pay for acting on their hate.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Matt Bernius says:

    Brilliant response Doug.

    One point though:

    As a broad point, though, I don’t think there’s really anything wrong per se with the idea of punishing people more severely if they commit crimes based on bias toward minorities.

    The fact is that this should finish with “crimes based on bias.” As has been pointed out a number of times, hate crime have been brought and successfully prosecuted when the victim has been a straight, white, heterosexual male (i.e. a member of the “majority”). In fact, this looks to be happening again right now in Detroit.

    The fact is that in most cases these laws are designed to protect *every* group, not just minorities.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  2. mantis says:

    Considering Shaw supports “stand your ground” laws, someone should explain to him that those protect an individual based on whether or not he thinks he is in danger. He thinks it’s just fine for a person’s thoughts to protect him from prosecution, but not to contribute to sentencing if convicted. Interesting.

    Excellent response, Doug.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  3. Eric Florack says:

    Policy?
    I think not, Doug.

    WHAT Jazz suggests in her post is something I stated flatly back in 2001…
    Its time to remove hate crimes from the books.
    Its time to acknowledge that the purpose of hate crime laws is to control thoughts and ideas. That’s evident in the always uneven application of such laws.

    As I said at the time

    Such discrepancies alas constitute legal life in America today. And with our over dependence on law, and on government, such nonsense penetrates every aspect of our day to day lives. The obvious question is why such double standards are permitted to exist. The answer, I fear, goes directly to the heart of the motive behind the hate crime laws.

    Understand; “motive” is not an idle choice of a word.. I consider the laws and the motive behind them, criminal. Why?

    Well, in answer, it doesn’t pass my notice, and I hope it doesn’t pass yours, that there are many who scream loudly to the populace for hate crimes laws when certain groups… groups whom they have historically favored… are targeted. Yet, these same people keep stony silence when other groups that they don’t favor are. You should also take note, of which are which. This disparity, (along with the disparity in the implementation of hate crime laws themselves) sends the message that hate itself isn’t the real issue… but rather WHOM you hate… that it’s OK to hate certain people. And of course, by passing hate crime laws and selectively implementing them, the government sends the clear message of which we shall and shall not hate.

    A look around provides the idea that open hostility to Christians, and others who hold traditional American values, is growing rapidly, and government is doing much to foster this hostility. Let’s be honest enough to say that this is the real purpose of “hate crime” legislation; to provoke hatred against politically incorrect groups, such as those who dare to try and uphold traditional cultural values, and/or those who are Christians.

    I suggest that this double standard is just one more front on the culture war … a war so many deny exists. Yet, it is a war that continues to claim victims. As in this case.

    Let me be clear, here. I am not suggesting that we give ‘hate crimes’ status to those crimes that we have not. I’m suggesting that we should grant ‘hate crime’ status to NO crime. By their design, and certainly by their implementation, the Hate Crimes statutes tend to reveal motives on the part of the government, which have racial and cultural motives, which are directed against the majority. Lincoln once observed that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Hate Crimes laws, far from being the healing tool they were supposed to be, have only served to deepen our division. It’s time to remove so called hate crimes from the books.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 10

  4. Eric Florack says:

    @Matt Bernius: Indeed. We’re supposed to be race neutral. Can singling out certain groups for protection ever be race neutral?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  5. Brett says:

    The most compelling reason at all for these laws is that hate crimes are FEDERAL crimes under many circumstances. It allows the feds to step in and prosecute when the local authorities refuse to do so because of their bias against the victim. So, rather than simply facing a state law murder charge, someone could be brought to justice under a federal hate crimes law. These laws are so important because of the systematic bias that still exists at the state and local level even today.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  6. mantis says:

    @Eric Florack:

    A look around provides the idea that open hostility to Christians, and others who hold traditional American values, is growing rapidly, and government is doing much to foster this hostility.

    That’s just your paranoid delusions, not reality.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1

  7. Mu says:

    What bugs me most about hate-crime laws is that the offense is in most cases not provable, or worse, not defendable. If I’m in a hospital, and the terminal cancer patient is suffering and asks me to kill him, and I do it, I might be guilty of manslaughter. But if the prosecutor finds a statement I made 20 years ago complaining about the high cost of treating elderly patients now I have to defend my state of mind against a hate crime accusation that could put me away for life.
    How a jury could be sure beyond a reasonable doubt that a hate crime occurred (statements of the accused after the fact notwithstanding) defies believe.
    So, at least under US standards of evidence I think most hate crime convictions would be unsafe, and the laws should disappear.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  8. mantis says:

    @Mu:

    Your argument, as Doug notes, applies as well to proving intent in a murder trial. Do you think that should go too?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  9. C. Clavin says:

    @Eric Florack:
    If thoughts were a hate crime you’d be doing life w/o parole.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  10. C. Clavin says:

    @Eric Florack:
    As long as bigots like you exist being race neutral is a fantasy of bigots like you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  11. Mu says:

    @mantis: Another difficult topic, but at least subject to more objective analysis and a less specific definition. You only have to prove he intended to do it, in the hate crime case you have to prove he intended to do it and why.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  12. An Interested Party says:

    A look around provides the idea that open hostility to Christians…is growing rapidly, and government is doing much to foster this hostility.

    Jesus Christ! There really isn’t much worse than those who have the power and the majority whining about how they are supposedly being mistreated…back during the time of the Roman Empire such persecution was taking place, but not so much now, certainly not in this country…next we’ll hear how moms, apple pie, and baseball are all being persecuted…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  13. mantis says:

    @An Interested Party:

    There really isn’t much worse than those who have the power and the majority whining about how they are supposedly being mistreated

    And he presumably expects us to take him seriously despite the fact that just two weeks ago we were discussing the fact that 78% of Americans identify as Christian. How anyone can hear someone claim they are persecuted and not laugh in their face is beyond me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  14. legion says:

    Jazz, like Florack, and so many other people on the wrong side of both history and sanity, does something Doug points out in his own opening:

    I would first draw the attention of all purveyors of such opinions to the four words inscribed in stone over the doors of the Supreme Court of the United States of America. EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW.
    Those four words, when combined with the very first freedom which the Founders chose to inscribe in the Bill of Rights, should be enough to sweep away all of the arguments foisted above like flotsam in the stream.

    He latches onto these words and chants the like a magic spell that protects him from all logic and counterargument. But there is one big problem with his philosophy:
    There is no such thing as a right that does not also come with an attendant responsibility. If you fail to fulfill that responsibility, the right can then be taken away.

    This applies to life, to liberty, and to the pursuit of happiness. It applies to freedom, and to fortune, and even to the right to bear arms.

    What it implies is that your exercise of your rights must be balanced against everyone else’s rights – which is IIRC a pretty foundational legal principle.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  15. We must conjure up a vision of a Wisconsin citizen suppressing his unpopular bigoted opinions for fear that if he later commits an offense covered by the statute, these opinions will be offered at trial to establish that he selected his victim on account of the victim’s protected status, thus qualifying him for penalty enhancement.

    If we argue it is ridiculous to suppose that hate crime enhancements will have an effect on the actions of bigots leading up to the criminal act, then what exactly is the utility of the enhancements?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  16. Ron Beasley says:

    @legion: I used to be a co-blogger with Jazz Shaw several years ago. He was a right of center moderate. I also got along well with Ed Morrisey when he had his own blog, Captain’s Quarters I believe it was called. They both went over to PJ Media and it was like I didn’t even know them anymore.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  17. DrDaveT says:

    Shaw’s “rich kid” hypothetical raises an interesting point, but perhaps not the one intended.

    Rich kids can defend themselves. They are not (yet) a targeted group that is the subject of systematic and organized violence, defamation, or discrimination. Ordinary law is adequate to defend their interests. The contrast with other groups is striking, and helps to motivate hate crime laws.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I see a tie-in with RICO laws here. Every widespread bigotry is a potential source of something very much like organized crime. The same justifications that allow special penalties and methods in fighting organized crime apply to the fruits of pernicious bigotry.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  18. Console says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Heh, I wonder if there is anyone out there arguing that RICO laws violate freedom of association…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. PD Shaw says:

    Some crimes, by their nature and intention, are directed not solely to the victim, but to a larger group. An example that comes to mind is Benjamin Nathaniel Smith, who went on a multi-state shooting spree, randomly shooting Jew, Blacks and Asians. (Two killed; Nine injured). This was clearly an act of terrorism directed at not just the victim, but at the groups themselves. He was trying to inspire similar acts of irrational violence and cause minorities to fear for their safety. Had he not ultimately killed himself, his punishment should have been enhanced by virtue of its broad scope.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  20. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    have only served to deepen our division.

    Says the guy who’s blog is peppered with “ni**ger”

    Your concern is touching.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  21. anjin-san says:

    @ Ron Beasley

    it was like I didn’t even know them anymore.

    Crazy pays much better than reasonable in conservative circles.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  22. anjin-san says:

    A look around provides the idea that open hostility to Christians, and others who hold traditional American values, is growing rapidly, and government is doing much to foster this hostility.

    Hmm.

    My wife is Christian, attends mass at least once a week, volunteers at her church regularly, and tithes every week. She says she is not aware of any “open hostility to Christians” and none of the other members of her church she talks to seem to be either. And here we are in the most liberal part of the country.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  23. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san: You realy *are* an idiot.
    Here’s a word for you, and a concept. Context. Try actually reading the whole thing. There’s about 20 years of writing there to this point. Get going. Or, to save time you might actually read the whole post to which you refer.

    @anjin-san: You actually try to sound reasonable here…. but you fail. Still, Let’s try looking at recent history. Let an NFL player “come out” as a homosexual, and he’s a huge hero. Let an NFL player come out as a devoted Christian, and the relax is “keep it to yourself”.

    Let’s dig a bit deeper.

    .*After the April 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City, President Clinton named G. Gordon Liddy among the conservative talk-show hosts he called “purveyors of hatred and division,” saying they were “encouraging violence.” The liberal press, who has long been willing to prostitute itself to the end of defeating anyone who holds views to the right of say, Fidel Castro, gleefully agreed with him. There was serious talk of McVeigh being charged under “Hate crimes’
    laws, but I’ve forgotten if he ever was prosecuted under those laws. I suspect though, that he was so charged.

    *’Concerned’ over arson attacks on black churches in 1996, (You recall, the ones Mr. Clinton lied about) civil rights leader Joseph Lowery accused the Christian Coalition of fostering an “extremist climate.” The non problem was followed up as a group of hate crimes.

    *When avowed homosexual Matthew Shepard was killed in Wyoming last year, Homosexual-extra-rights advocate Joan M. Garry suggested it was the result of a conservative anti-homosexuality campaign she said “fuels the fires of bigotry.”, and his killers were subject to and convicted under Hate Crime statutes. I note with interest this was brought up in another thread just recently, and not by myself… thanks for the reminder.

    *Following the shootings at a Jewish community center in California, the leftist media and politicians jumped onto the hate crime bandwagon, labeling those episodes of violence “hate crimes”..

    *In Texas, the dragging death of a black man has brought two white men to conviction and the death penalty. These were reported by the press, most notably CBS and CNN (who forever shill for big government ) as hate crimes.

    On the other hand…

    #When a gunman spouting blasphemous rhetoric burst into a youth service at a Fort Worth Baptist church, and fatally shot seven persons, the liberal’s war on hate crimes was nowhere to be seen. Nor were there endless lines of liberal leaders, making as much out of the situation as possible.

    #When in 1997, a kid who had been known as anti-Christian shot up a high school prayer group in Paducah, KY where were the people protecting us from ‘hate crime’? They must have hidden behind the folks who want to remove the second amendment from the books. It’s the oddest thing; these looked just like the folks who had been
    screaming about hate crimes in my first examples.

    #When the murders of Christian students at Columbine High School in Colorado, made the front page… where the shooters specifically picked out Christians to shoot at by asking them for professions of faith and then killing them for their answer, we saw no crying and wailing from the usual suspects about ‘hate crime’. Yet, there can be no question that these crimes too, were motivated by hate.

    Matter of fact, your own reaction here, is of interest.

    And here we are in the most liberal part of the country.

    Why would you even mention this? I said nothing about liberal vs conservative, in terms of where this persecution is coming from… but you cough this up? Why?

    Hmmm. Can it be you KNOW I’m right and you KNOW where this percecution is coming from?

    @Mu: Well put. Only one problem… your argument uses logic, which clearly will blow right by the Clavins and Anjins of the world.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

  24. Grewgills says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Why would you even mention this? I said nothing about liberal vs conservative, in terms of where this persecution is coming from… but you cough this up? Why?

    It is amazing how partisan everyone else is isn’t it Bit? They are always trying to paint things in those terms. Thank you for fighting the good fight.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  25. Tillman says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Let an NFL player “come out” as a homosexual, and he’s a huge hero. Let an NFL player come out as a devoted Christian, and the relax is “keep it to yourself”.

    You realy *are* an idiot.
    Here’s a word for you, and a concept. Context.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  26. Tillman says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Shaw’s “rich kid” hypothetical raises an interesting point, but perhaps not the one intended.

    Rich kids can defend themselves. They are not (yet) a targeted group that is the subject of systematic and organized violence, defamation, or discrimination. Ordinary law is adequate to defend their interests. The contrast with other groups is striking, and helps to motivate hate crime laws.

    Yeah, Shaw brought that up and my first thought was, “Dude, the kid was rich. Society by default will expend plenty of resources to track his killer down. His parents probably have pull with local politicians and police.” JonBenet Ramsey wasn’t a poor white girl. Elizabeth Smart wasn’t a poor white girl.

    Further, and I’m not certain on this, but wouldn’t the charge for a hate crime come up after the murderer in this hypothetical was caught, not before? I’m fairly sure the hate crime charge doesn’t influence the amount of resources put into capturing a lone murderer, so Shaw’s histrionics about protected classes getting more resources put to solving their crimes seems off.

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  27. Mu says:

    @Ron Beasley: Ron, when we did “Running Scared” 10 years ago we were doing it for fun, no schedule, no fixed topic, and, more importantly, no audience. Couple of hundred hits a day. The one “big day” we had was when google was sending us 100,000 looking for a certain actress’s nude pictures due to an article on a TV show (with no pictures). Still don’t understand why anyone wanted to see HER naked, but I digress.
    Now Jazz blogs on a 100,000 hits a day site dedicated to covering politics for a very right wing audience. I still don’t think his main position has shifted that far (I always think of him as the “liberal target” they throw out on Hot Air to get the masses riled up). But of course congressmen don’t call to “brief you” on their favorite topic if they think you’ll rip it, so you have to stay consistent, and that has cost him some of his edge of occasionally throwing the curve ball opinion totally at odds with the target audience.
    On the other hand, he’s staying with his opinion and only his opinion. There’s no “agenda blogging” trying to promote something against his better judgement. Which is why I still read his stuff (and occasionally fly 2000 miles to have a beer or five with him).

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  28. Matt Bernius says:

    @Tillman & @DrDaveT:
    One other note on the rich and well connected — not only can the motivate more resources towards getting their crimes solved, they can bring more resources to ensuring that anyone who has victimized them serves the entirety of their sentence. Their connections enable them to have significant sway over parole boards. Granted, parole is not a right. However, getting parole if you’ve committed a crime against an influential victim is going to be all but impossible.

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  29. Eric Florack says:

    @mantis: You apparently forget there is a line between cultural Christians, and core believers. As an example of a parallel, I noted a few weeks ago… (IM on the road and on a cell phone and so don’t have it to hand at the moment, sorry) a study which suggested a goodly percentage of those who consider themselves cultural Jews, don’t believe in God… upwards of 40%, I think it was, though it may have been somewhat higher.

    Now, notice in the examples of attacks I listed, the attacks occurred not on the sidewalk somewhere, but for the most part at Churches… where one would presume to find believers, and not just “cultural Christians”. That explains the disconnect you question, I think.

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  30. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    I have no doubt that you have constructed elaborate rationalizations that allow you to pretend that your ongoing use of “ni**er” and comments like “Obama is Jimmy Cater in blackface” are not simply vile racism.

    You could do a little experiment. Simply walk up to random black men, start a conversation, and drop “ni**er” into the mix. Be sure to let them know it’s all about context.

    BTW, don’t you think its a little strange that you constantly quote yourself here, but no one else ever quotes you except to make that point “bithead is a racist, idiot, imbecile, and so on?

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  31. anjin-san says:

    @ Forack

    BTW, statements like “you KNOW I’m right” are a serious red flag indicating a delusional belief system.

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  32. mantis says:

    @Eric Florack:

    So what you’re saying is that Christians really are persecuted in the US, that some unknown percentage of those who say they are Christian are not “true” Christians, and those pretenders are part of the vast anti-Christian conspiracy.

    Okay fine. When do you and your ilk retreat underground in fear of the great Christian purge? Can you speed up the timetable?

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  33. anjin-san says:

    @ mantis

    Satan appreciates your support.

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  34. Tillman says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Now, notice in the examples of attacks I listed, the attacks occurred not on the sidewalk somewhere, but for the most part at Churches… where one would presume to find believers, and not just “cultural Christians”. That explains the disconnect you question, I think.

    I think you’ve got that backwards. You’d expect cultural Christians in church more often than actual believers since the church arguably functions more as a social community nowadays.

    “Church-going” isn’t as reliable a metric of Christian faith as would rationally be thought. Church attendance is remarkably low compared to decades past, but the number of self-identifying Christians, at 78%, is much higher than church attendance (hovering around 45-50%) would suggest.

    I rarely step inside a church unless I’m attending a wedding, a funeral, or voting, so I’d fall inside the ~25% who profess Christian faith without attending church.

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  35. grumpy realist says:

    I guess my first question is: does Jazz Shaw have a legal background? There’s a heck of a lot of stuff about hate crimes where it really doesn’t boil down to policy questions but more what the law says.

    Doug has done a brilliant job of dissecting the many threads above, pointing out what is in fact settled law and what is up for discussion.

    Please, people–there are certain topics of discussion where yeah, let the experts play in the sandpile first.

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  36. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san: Or, you could sit back and listen to them all each other that.
    Its a mindset being discussed, not race.
    A mindset, I note with interest, you apparently share.

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  37. anjin-san says:

    @ Eric Florack

    Can you rephrase that? I’m afraid my Babble to English translation widget is not working this morning.

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  38. Eric Florack says:

    @Tillman:
    a fair enough point.

    To it, I. suggest that any grouping ends up being a sub-culture unto itself. Like minded people and all that as a paralell, consider Muslims, where its been pointed out often enough that Islam is far more than a religion, but a way of life. jews, in much the same way.

    But I also suggest (as do polling data ive seen) that those who are non beleivers will mostly not be attending services, despite holding themselves as cultural christians, jews or what have you. which seemingly would explain the delta between those attending services vs self identification as part of a cultural group.

    @anjin-san: Sorry. small screen,small keyboard, unoticed dropped letter. (shrug) Typos happen.

    correction
    Or, you could sit back and listen to them call each other that.
    Its a mindset being discussed, not race.:

    Gee, that was hard, huh?

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