Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Legislating thought

US Attorney General Eric Holder said new hate crimes legislation was necessary to protect us from "violence masquerading as political activism."

Holder cited the recent killings of a young soldier in Little Rock, an abortion provider in Kansas City and a guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. during his address.
"We will not tolerate murder, or the threat of violence, masquerading as political activism. So let me be clear. The Justice Department will use every tool at its disposal to protect the rights ensured under our Constitution." -- Eric Holder, US Attorney General
There are a number of problems with Mr. Holder's call for more federal criminal legislation. First, every state has murder statutes on their books - where an act violates a state criminal statute, there is no need for a (redundant) federal statute. Second, we have this little thing called the First Amendment that protects speech and thought. The protections aren't absolute, but the Founding Fathers believed our society would be a tolerant society and that a man shouldn't be punished because he thought differently that his neighbor.

Most criminal acts require both a bad act and intent. The elements of murder include the act of killing another along with the intent either to kill the person or to engage in the conduct that led to that person's death. The law doesn't, nor should it, care whether the actor killed the victim because of skin color, religion, sexual orientation or political belief.
Holder said that to stop such violence, Congress should pass an updated version of hate crimes legislation in order to more effectively prosecute those who commit violent attacks based on gender, disability or sexual orientation.
Freedom of expression means that we are free to believe whatever we wish to believe - no matter how popular, or unpopular, it may be. The extremists, bigots, racists and haters will be marginalized in the full light of day - just as cockroaches run when the lights come on.

If the men who killed the returning soldier, the abortion provider and the museum guard had the intent to kill their targets and did, indeed, kill them, then they committed murder -- regardless of their attitudes or ideologies.

If we allow the Thought Police to gain a larger foothold in our criminal justice system, how long until we begin prosecuting people solely because we don't agree with their beliefs? How long until we build our own gulags?


Paladin51 said...

I wholeheartedly agree. One of Holder's comments is nuts though. He says "that to stop such violence" - that's just plain bull. No law of any kind will stop the violence. For those of you out there that believe that guys who commit crimes, particularly those who commit crimes for reason of "hate," sit and think before they commit the crime "Hey, this is a hate crime and is more stringently punished than if not a hate crime, so I shouldn't do it," you're crazy and dreaming. A murder is a murder, just like a battery is a battery, and neither should be punished more stringently merely because of the social, legal, political, ethnic, racial, or religious position of the victim. That makes those persons death more important than mine, and I don't like the government thinking that way.

Paul B. Kennedy said...

Thank you for your comments. I believe too much bad law is enacted in attempts to gain political "points."

Anonymous said...

But you voted for Obama, didn't you? What did you think that you were going to get when you voted for a Marxist?