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The continuing effort to expand laws against hate crimes is not, I think, good for either the police or the country. Let me tell you why.

To begin with, the effect is to create political crimes. In the past, if I shot a Vietnamese, or Mormon, or white Christian, or homosexual, the crime would be murder. My politics would have nothing to do with the definition of the crime. Whether I did it for fun, or because I didn’t like immigrants, or thought Mormons were terrible people, would have nothing to do with it. The crime was killing, not disliking a group.

That seems to be changing. Political view now begins to define the crime. Killing a homosexual because I disliked homosexuals would be a hate crime, while killing a rich man or beggar because I disapproved of either would be ordinary murder and subject to lighter penalties. That is, hating some people is becoming comparatively acceptable under the law, while hating others, if not yet a crime yet in itself, makes a crime carry a heavier penalty. We are criminalizing thought, and giving added legal protection to some but not others.

This is an excellent way to undermine respect for the law, the courts, and the police.

I think we all understand that these laws are not aimed at hate, but at particular kinds of hate found disagreeable by particular political groups, chiefly on the left. (Note that the groups granted special privilege invariably vote Democratic.) That is, we all understand that a woman who kills a man because she hates men will not be guilty of a hate crime, as neither will a black or Hispanic who kills a white from hostility to whites, or a homosexual who, furious at heterosexuals for their lack of respect, kills a heterosexual.

We are seeing the continuation, by means of the criminal-justice system, of the Balkanization of the society that has long been otherwise advanced. It is most curious. We talk about how we believe in equality before the law, and that advantage should not be distributed according to race, creed, color, sex, or national origin. In fact we are on the way to making everything thing whatsoever depend on these things.

The effect will be to make the police not the impartial enforcers of laws applying to everybody, but instead the politically motivated agents of privileged groups. This is not a good thing. I may not like getting, say, a speeding ticket, but I know that anyone doing seventy-five on Wilson Boulevard is as likely to get stopped, and get the same ticket. I may think the law unreasonable–that perhaps the speed limit is too low. But I don’t believe that my government is singling me out for harsh treatment, or letting others off, because of membership in a group.

Today, one’s group grows in importance. Cops are finding that giving tickets to people of the wrong race result in charges of racism, that arresting people in numbers out of proportion to their prevalence in the population will result in penalties, regardless of the guilt of the arrested. Again, these penalties go only in one political direction: No one points out that the majority of people arrested for white-collar crime are white, and demands that blacks be arrested proportionately.

Though I can’t give even a guess at numbers, I hear from cops that they aren’t going to risk their jobs and retirement by arresting the wrong sorts of people. This also undermines public respect for both cops and courts. If enough cops adopt the same policy, the result will be an increase in crime.

The politicization of justice is becoming more common. You can see in post offices in Virginia the equivalent of wanted posters showing The Heartless Twenty (I may have the number wrong), these being men behind in their child-support. You do not see pictures of welfare mothers with no job and five illegitimate children, who will lead miserable lives and become either criminals or wards of the state. This is straightforward use of the apparatus of law-enforcement to punish a particular group disliked by feminists.

The police of course have no choice but to enforce the laws. When they conspicuously persecute malefactors disliked by the correct left, but not others who do equal harm but are not of politically correct groups, they come to be hated. When protection by agencies of law-enforcement comes to depend on political power rather than on law generally applied to all, law-enforcement loses legitimacy. We’re working on it.

(Republished from Fred on Everything by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Fred Reed's Cop Columns, Hate Crimes 
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