Punishing perceived bias

After it passed in the House last week, legislation is being
considered today in the Senate known as the ‘Local Law Enforcement Hate
Crimes Prevention Act’.

How can a bill against hate and crime not be a good thing, asks Paul Greenberg (rhetorically). Surely both need to be opposed.

But under the bill’s title, like a snake under a rock,
is the dubious concept that George Orwell named concisely enough in
“1984″: thoughtcrime.

And also like a snake under a rock, it’s pretty much hidden from
view because major media aren’t covering it. Good thing journalists
like Greenberg are.

What will this do as law?

It establishes severe penalties for those thinking wrong
thoughts during the commission of a serious crime - from 10 years to
life, depending on the crime involved.

And what would those wrong thoughts be? The additional penalties
would be assessed if the crime were committed “because of the actual or
perceived race, color, religion or national origin” of the victim.

Another section of the bill applies to crimes committed “because of
the actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual
orientation, gender identity or disability of any person.” There must
be a reason for differentiating between gender and gender identity in
the law, but I’d rather not guess.

You see…

It’s not just the crime that is to be judged anymore,
but the politics of it. The accused doesn’t become eligible for
additional punishment unless he’s motivated by one of the designated
politically incorrect hates named in the bill…

It’s an approach to crime and punishment premised on the (unspoken)
theory that it’s not as bad to hate some folks as to hate others, or to
commit the same crime but for reasons other than the politically
incorrect ones specified in the bill. Like greed, revenge, envy or just
general cussedness.

They count for more if committed with perceived bias against the protected classes.

Think about it, Gentle Reader, if this subject still
permits thought rather than blind emotion: When we punish only some
motivations for a crime, we necessarily privilege - as the academics
say - other kinds. And we wind up with a dual standard of justice:
political and nonpolitical, “bias crimes” and the dull old conventional
ones, “social justice” and just plain justice.

See how this fails to hold up to logic, while we still can. And speaking of that…

Robert Anton Wilson, who was a combination of pop
philosopher and libertarian agitator, said it: “Academia cannot argue
the rational principle that hatred of any group doesn’t make sense;
they dumped that when they dumped logic (as a ‘male’ perversion). The
argument between left and right now consists only of debating which are
the correct groups to hate.”

As Greenberg concludes:

The line between “1984″ and 2009, sci-fi and serious political discourse, ideology and law, grows ever thinner…


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