Hate crimes (also known as bias-motivated crimes) occur when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her perceived membership in a certain social group, usually defined by racial group, religion, sexual orientation, disability, class, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, gender identity, social status or political affiliation.
“Hate crime” generally refers to criminal acts that are seen to have been motivated by bias against one or more of the types above, or of their derivatives. Incidents may involve physical assault, damage to property, bullying, harassment, verbal abuse or insults, or offensive graffiti or letters (hate mail).
Â Â Â Â The above are from Wikipedia. If we are reprimanded by our editors for using Wiki we will plead that there is, for thoughtcrime, no standard or legal definition except in fiction (though some would point to practice in certain totalitarian regimes as evidence to the contrary). And for hate crime, there are now a myriad of laws on the books in many state jurisdictions and also federal statutes encompassing some, or many, of the Wikipedia examples.Â Citing all of themÂ is not critical for our effort today.Â It might be amusing, though, to consider Wiki’s inclusion ofÂ people beingÂ ‘targeted’ as those having a certain ‘social status’ orÂ ‘political afilliation’ , givenÂ the current president’s penchant for ‘taxing the rich’ and ‘punishing our enemies’, if you’re up on current affairs.Â But that is a variant we won’t pursue here today.
Â Â Â Â We Â referenceÂ an incident that occurred last fall on the campus of Rutgers University in which a student surreptitiously video-recorded his male roommate engaged with another male, well, in flagrante delicto, as they say, and then posted it on-line. The presumably embarassed roommate committed suicide the next day. The student was charged with invasion of privacy at the time and could have faced up to five years in prison. Homosexual rights groups demanded that he be charged with a ‘hate crime’. Â That happened yesterday.Â Â The defendant now faces the possibility of decades in prison.
Â Â Â Â The case has not been presented; we don’t know the evidence or what the pleadings might be, except what we have learned from news stories.Â But usually in a hate crime, there has to have been some violent act, or some damage claimed.Â What we are wondering is, if the victim in this case had gone to the police and complained of invasion of privacy, and claimed protected status,Â would the hate crime have been added to the counts, andÂ if not, was the charge upped to includeÂ ‘hate’ Â because of the death of the victim?Â Id est, was it the act of the victim, committing suicide, that resulted in the enhanced charge being filed against the defendant?
Â Â Â Â Legal scholars will tell you that hate speech is protected by the Constitution, but hateÂ crimesÂ occur when speech is accompanied or followed by an act, such as, for example, burning a cross in the front yard of a Black family, or, hopefully for fairness’ sake, as in Â murdering people while yelling “Allahu akbar”.Â For our part, we have never believed it possible to prove a hate crime, have never believed it was warranted by any legal or constitutional or societal need, and have thoughtÂ that, like the fictional Â ‘thoughtcrime’ Â referenced above, the concept of a hate crime is so obviously subjective as toÂ make itÂ overripe for abuse.Â Especially so when it is considered that ‘hate crimes’, Â as promulgated by the different jurisdictions, offer protections, or shall we say remedies,Â to certain classes not available to victims of the same typeÂ assaults or affronts who are Â not members of said classes.Â That is not equal protection under the law, in our oh-so-very humble opinion.
Â Â Â Â What the defendant in the above case did was stupid, careless, unkind, even despicable, Â and if the facts are as presented, probably legally an invasion of privacy.Â It would have been the same if the victim had been engaged in a heterosexual encounter.Â The reason this case is important and the questions we asked above need answered are that, as far as has been reported, the defendant uttered no slur, had not engaged in prior ‘hate speech’,Â protected or not. Â He was immediately charged with invasion of privacy, right after the suicide.Â If Â it turns out that invasion of privacy of a protected class merits a charge of Â ‘hate’, then we are entering new territory. Â And someone is going to have to place the victim in that protected class,by some method, Â because he is not around to assert it himself, Â and you can’t tell by looking at his photo.Â Â Â If it turns out thatÂ the hate charge was predicated on the death of the victim, which was caused by an act of the victim – suicide – then we are indeed entering new territory.
Â Â Â Â WhenÂ the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 was passed by the US Congress, it contained a provision that mandated the purchase of health insurance by individuals not covered by blanket or group health plans or some other means.Â Failure to do so was subject to penalty.Â That is,Â not doing something was construed as making a decision to do something – not buy a health insurance policy.Â The reason given for this mandate was that so everyone who could afford to buy would ante up to create a big pool of money to cover those who could not afford to buy, due to their unfortunate circumstance or, might we suggest,Â Â a decision not to get a job. (Why, how could one possibly make an assertion about how someone thought about, or felt about, or had intentions of doing about, Â working?Â Who are we to judge?Â On the other hand, isn’t it ironic beyond all belief that the PPACA didn’t contain a mandate that everybody get a job?)Â Â Â Â Â
Â Â Â Â A Â decision is made in the mind.Â It involves thought.Â It would be very difficult for a prosecutor to prove what was in the mind of a defendant.Â That is why it is not necessary to prove motive in, let’s say, a murder case.Â Envy may be a cardinal sin, but DNA on the weapon is enough to get you the chair.Â Â Interestingly,Â Â that someone has no insurance policy is enough to convict him of deciding not to do something.Â It is a thought crime.Â If you are not a protected class.Â If you are between the ages of 26 and 65 and eking out a living.
Â Â Â Â Â The government of the United States and the governments of several States may punish you for thinking and feeling (hating)Â Â and not doing anything and, going beyondÂ Orwell’s 1984, apparently mayÂ also use what others do or do not doÂ to convict you of your thoughts and feelings.Â Â Note also that in the Wiki description of hate crimes, it talks about someones perceivedÂ Â membership in a group.Â So in addition to thoughts, feelings and inactions, we have nowÂ gone through theÂ doors of perception.Â Â Â That is what happens when you allow your government to play mind games.Â Â It is later than you think.