I hate designating certain criminal acts as “hate crimes” for two reasons. First, if someone commits a crime, who cares about the criminal’s mind-set? If you kill me, does it matter if you did it because you hate me or because you were stealing my car?
The crime is in the act, not the thought. Punishing someone’s evil thoughts isn’t allowed in America, except for these so-called hate crimes, where an extra sentence is tacked on because the crime was “hate-driven.”
Second, who decides what’s hateful? Americans invented hate crimes in the 1980s to punish crimes “motivated by hostility to the victim’s race, creed, gender, sexual identity or disability,” according to the dictionary. But hate, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
Is the NFL football team’s “Redskins” name hateful? People disagree.
This month, some Washington & Lee University black students got the hateful Confederate flags removed from Robert E. Lee’s chapel. Meanwhile, David Rubenstein donated $12.3 million to restore, Arlington, Robert E. Lee’s home where he owned 63 slaves. Why isn’t that hateful, too?
Also this month, the Anne Arundel County school board censured former member Eugene Peterson for calling Superintendent Mamie Perkins an “Aunt Jemima.” Hateful? Well, both Peterson and Perkins are black and Peterson was criticizing Perkins for not closing the minority achievement gap quickly enough. Nor was Peterson’s slur any more hateful than Maryland Senate President Mike Miller (white) calling Maryland Lt. Governor Mike Steele (black) “an Uncle Tom.” No one censured Miller.
My favorite hate crime was this year’s Norfolk, Neb., Fourth of July parade float featuring an outhouse labeled “Obama Presidential Library,” with a zombie mannequin labeled “head librarian.” When state Democrats called it “one of the worst shows of racism and disrespect for the office of the Presidency that Nebraska has ever seen,” the U.S. Department of Justice sent investigators to question the mayor and the Order of Oddfellows, who hosted the parade. Hate crime or free speech?
Today’s hate game is tricky because the rules keep changing. Uttering certain words can get you fired or a lifetime NBA suspension. So can being either a global warming or Holocaust denier.
Supporting traditional marriage can cost you your job (ask former Mozilla executive Brendan Eich, who contributed $1,000 to California’s Prop 8 referendum, or Angela McCaskill, who signed Maryland’s prop 6 referendum) and making analogies to Nazis and Hitler is almost always impermissible.
Also, never, never, never use the “N-word,” unless you’re hip-hop singer Nicki Minaj, whose new rap song repeats the N-word 42 times.
There’s lots of hate going around Maryland lately. When the federal government targeted a Carroll County Army reserve center for possibly housing some of the 57,000 recent illegal immigrant children, someone spray painted “No illeagles (sic) here. No undocumented Democrats” on the building. The state police treated it as a hate crime (three years in prison, $5,000 fine) because of its “racial message.”
But, hold on, where’s the racial message? Are illegals (or even “illeagles”) a racial group? No way. Vandalism is a crime, yes, but opposing illegal immigration isn’t — yet.
“Sheriff’s Trip Funded by Alleged Hate Group” screamed the Frederick News-Post lead headline last week. Seems Sheriff Chuck Jenkins and six other national sheriffs visited the Texas border to learn about the surge of illegal immigrant children. The trip was sponsored by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, designated a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Meanwhile, in Anne Arundel County, Michael Peroutka won a county council primary election despite being called “an extremist candidate” by the same Southern Poverty Law Center.
The SPLC has set itself up as the nation’s arbiter of what’s “hateful.” It identified 939 “hate groups” last year, which it used to frighten $27 million out of its liberal donors. And because the SPLC’s politics align with the media’s, the center’s “hate group” list is accepted as gospel.
The problem is that it’s quite easy to land on the SPLC’s hate group list all you have to do is disagree with the SPLC’s ideology. The American College of Pediatricians is a hate group because it opposes gay adoption. “Patriot groups” are hate groups because they see “the federal government as their primary enemy” (as did Thomas Jefferson). The Family Research Council is a hate group for “its constant demonizing of the LGBT community” and Help Save Maryland is “a nationalist extremist group” because it opposed the Dream Act and drivers’ licenses for illegal aliens.
The Catholic Church, the Mormons and the Republican Party are, no doubt, on the SPLC’s “hate group” waiting list.
Calling you an “extremist” or a “hate group” is the SPLC’s and the media’s way of intimidating you into silence. That’s much more dangerous than hate and a whole lot more unAmerican.
Blair Lee is chairman of the board of Lee Development Group in Silver Spring and a regular commentator for WBAL radio. His past columns are available at www.gazette.net/blairlee. His email address is email@example.com.