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When Thought Is A Crime

By Harmony Grant
20 May 2008

In New York State, a 16-year-old high school student was jailed and faces felony charges for a note and prank phone call harassing a fellow student, who is black. In NY state, felonies are crimes for which imprisonment of a year or more can be given. Felonies are the worst crimes. Compare: a fistfight is usually a misdemeanor. A speeding ticket, even lesser, is an infraction. Why was this kid charged with a felony for a stupid prank?
His arraignment wasn’t really about the note and prank call. He was arrested to make a statement about social intolerance of certain viewpoints or attitudes against “targeted groups.”
Under hate crime laws, certain groups including racial minorities, Jews and homosexuals, enjoy heightened protection. The teen’s black victim is given special privilege not afforded the victim of a race-neutral slam.
Hate laws exist to make political statements against racial or religious bias. They say, “These groups have been historically victimized. Bias against them is far worse than bias against anybody else because it terrorizes a larger community. Bias against them is far worse than bias against whites or Christians or straight men, or an individual you just happen to hate for no good reason.”
But the law doesn’t exist to make political or social statements. (Newspapers do.) Criminal law exists to protect inalienable rights that belong to individuals not groups. Groups are inherently changeable. They rise and fall in political and social power and favoritism. They fluctuate as their members intermarry with other groups or move around. Individuals, however, simply live and die. Rights belong to individuals. Crimes are done to individuals. Centuries of experience has shown that laws can only be practically and justly enforced against individuals, not groups.
The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith—a powerful Jewish advocacy group—has been working for decades to pass hate laws which shatter American standards of legal justice and individual rights. ADL wants to change the balance of social power in the United States, elevate certain groups and criminalize the Christian, conservative, patriotic ethos of most Americans. For decades they have exaggerated the “threat” of bias-motivated crimes and worked to demonize any attitudes that hint of Christian fundamentalism, nationalism, or especially white (but not black or Jewish) racism.
Hate laws—and especially a federal hate law—are a hot ticket right now. Last month, the Civil Rights Officer of the U.S. Coast Guard Kenneth B. Hunter hosted a forum on how to prevent future hate crimes. Co-leaders of the event included reps from big shot organizations and even the government—Ivy R. Williams of PEERS (Parents Education for Eliminating Racism in Schools), Azekah Jennings of the U.S. Department of Justice, and Robert Trestan of the Anti-Defamation League.
A local news source reported : “Jennings said, first and foremost, [a hate crime is] a crime. Williams added that it’s a physical or verbal abuse causing others to think less of themselves. She said it might not be done intentionally and that it may come from somewhere within someone, a place they didn’t even know existed. Trestan said every state has its own definition of a hate crime. He said when discussed in court, it can be hard to convict someone of a hate crime because it’s a process that involves getting into the perpetrator’s thoughts and figuring out why the crime was committed.”
This is a little astonishing. Here an ADL rep blatantly admits that hate crime prosecution involves invading someone’s personal beliefs and ideology, “getting into their thoughts” and motivation. A member of his panel also said a hate crime perpetrator might not even commit their crime intentionally! Both statements prove the dangerously vague and unjust aim of this kind of law. They prosecute beliefs. They also prosecute “speech” that might not have even been intended to hurt! They allow victims to decide when crimes have been committed, based on whether they feel “verbally abused.”
This is bad, bad law.
Another example. ADL was on the scene in Arizona to respond to teens’ beating of two Mormon teenagers. “Police said the suspects, with carved swastikas on their wrists, are accused of attacking the Mormon teenagers with pellet guns and beating them. One of the victims was sent to the hospital.” Their crime, of course, is wrong. It should be punished.
But it should be punished no more severely than if the beaters had been Mormons attacking fellow LDS teens for revenge or romantic rivalry or any other set of stupid reasons. US law should punish actions and only actions. We can’t say this enough.
Once the government involves itself in prosecuting motives, thoughts, and beliefs—we are in big trouble. Those in power can decide who to silence, censor, and imprison, based not on criminal actions but on politically incorrect beliefs and biases.
In Holland, a cartoonist was recently imprisoned for the night, and art was hauled from his home, because his work might be “discriminatory” against Muslims! "He was arrested with a great show of force, by around 10 policemen," said his spokeswoman. The artist often mocks Muslims and also political leftists, and for that “crime” he spent time in jail and his work was confiscated—in a western country! This is only the beginning of what hate laws will do.
Mass media—led by ADL—shepherds Americans into specious groupthink that is not morally or legally equitable. We have now been taught for decades that hate is bad and tolerance good. This is murky, shallow thinking about morality. This ill-thought-out mantra leaves little room to hate evil, to be prejudiced against sexual deviance, to be intolerant of social and moral evil, etc. It certainly shouldn’t be turned into law.
But it has been. ADL persuaded forty-five states to legislate against “hate,” telling its citizens how they are allowed to feel and believe. This corruption of the law may soon reach the federal level.
ADL was immediately present in Arizona after the Mormons’ assault, to hold a community forum and expound the terrifying fact of multiplying hate crimes—the ADL rep said he was “scared to death of what might happen in Arizona.”
Scared to death? This hysterical language characterizes ADL and media response to the “threat” of hate crimes, which actually represent an infinitesimal percent of actual crimes (1/20 of 1 percent at most).
Even if “hate crimes” were a staggering threat, an unjust law will never help. We don’t need any more politically charged, unjust laws on the books. We need straightforward laws and prosecution that apply equally to all criminals and all victims.
A week after the LDS beating, police still couldn’t decide if it was a hate crime. I guess it’s kinda hard to get inside someone else’s head. It was none of their business in the first place. Kids are entitled to hate. So are men. So are women. You aren’t entitled to act in violence on your strong emotions; that’s what law and police are for. Their threat of retribution helps us rein in strong human passions, whether those passions incite us to act on ethnic resentment or a grudge against an ex-lover. Both crimes equally violate the law. It would be wrong to kill a black woman because she’s your ex and you hate her; it would be wrong to kill her because she’s black and you hate blacks. Both crimes are wrong. Good law is blind to the motives.
Bad ideologies and bad beliefs should only be punished with public disapproval; they should be prosecuted in the courtroom of public opinion. They should not be punished with jail time! The government has no business inside our heads, legislating what we are allowed to believe or to feel.
History is riddled with this abuse. For millennia, people in power have made laws about what to believe; they have imprisoned and executed those who violated their state orthodoxy. (Heard of Galileo? Socrates? Jesus?) This is the course of human affairs; government slides into tyranny. It will happen in the US unless enough people realize that it doesn’t matter how much the public agrees that racist or other beliefs are bad—we must not criminalize beliefs.

 

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Harmony Grant writes and edits for National Prayer Network, a Christian/conservative watchdog group.

Let the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith teach you how they have saddled 45 states with hate laws capable of persecuting Christians: http://www.adl.org/99hatecrime/intro.asp.
Learn how ADL took away free speech in Canada and wants to steal it now in the U.S. Congress. Watch Rev. Ted Pike's Hate Laws: Making Criminals of Christians at video.google.com. Purchase this gripping documentary to show at church. Order online at www.truthtellers.org for $24.90, DVD or VHS, by calling 503-853-3688, or at the address below.
TALK SHOW HOSTS: Interview Rev. Ted Pike on this topic. Call (503) 631-3808.

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