A person’s emotions and unrevealed thoughts, though they might be suspected, can seldom be proved.
And however aggressive thoughts and emotions may be, they are not in themselves criminal. They may be “sinful” to a Christian, but a crime and a sin are not the same thing. A crime is a deed done; a sin of thought is at worst only a potential crime. Sin is defined by faith, not reason, and faith does not – cannot – subject its dogma to the rigorous examination practiced in secular courts of law.
When a crime is committed, its perpetrator should be punished regardless of what emotions or thoughts motivated him. (Self-defense is an exception as the desire to live and not be harmed is assumed to be universal.)
Some crimes, it’s true, having no obvious or discoverable motive (such as gain), can plausibly be attributed to hate, jealousy, fear, or revenge. And a perpetrator might say that he was driven by the force of an emotion. But still, traditionally it is what he actually did that brings him before the judgment of society and its law.
Yet codes of law do exist that allow strong emotion to be taken into account – as a mitigating not an aggravating circumstance. In France, for instance, the crime passionel – a crime committed out of strong feeling such as, and usually, jealous love – is allowed special consideration for lighter punishment or none. It may be charming to find a place for sentiment in law, for love, or compassion, or “empathy”; but to esteem passion more highly than personal responsibility is to undermine the dependability of the law. The law must be dependably impersonal, objective, impartial, neutral, even-handed or it is not just.
Must be? Increasingly, the political Left – the side of the emotions – favors the idea of treating a defendant leniently if he is “underprivileged”, harshly if he is “privileged”. Obama and his Supreme Court pick Sonia Sotomayor have expressed a preference for “empathetic” judgment – finding according to the personal feelings of the judge. If judges always or often did that, it would be the end of the rule of law. If people permit them to do it, they’re demolishing the house that shelters them.
Some seem to think a judge is right to find for someone with whose opinions he agrees, and against someone whose opinions he dislikes, regardless of the merits of their cases. A British judge, for example, let off vandals who had been proved guilty, because they said they were doing it against the state of Israel which they deemed oppressive, and in sympathy with Palestinians whom they deemed victims of Israeli oppression. Because the judge shared their opinions of Israel and the Palestinians, he acquitted them. If all judges made their judgments on such grounds of personal preference, it would clearly be the end of justice and the rule of law.
Most if not all “hate crime” is attributed to “racism”. As “racism” is an attitude of mind that taints the individual, it is a sin rather than a crime. If it prompts a crime, it is the crime that is wrong, not the attitude of mind or depth of feeling behind it.
But almost everywhere in the Western world, the attitude and feeling are now regarded as more important, more to be condemned, than the actual crime. Since the rise to power of the New Left in politics, education, and the mass media, “racism” tops almost every other offense.
And yet … It appears that in practice the gravity of the “racist’ offense depends on which “race” is carrying out the attack on which other “race”. Some – like the vandals in Britain – are given a pass on the grounds that they are the more unfortunate. (An extension of the crime passionel idea.)
What is “racism”?
“Racism” has come to mean dislike of a race, a nation, or a religious group. It is not applied – though it applies logically – to a group defined by occupation; say lawyers, or bankers, or the executives of corporations, all of whom are subjected to hate as an entire class.
The FBI has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.” But that motivation remains guesswork, dependant on opinion and prejudice, which makes its even application impossible.
If a rule against racism were to be applied evenly, the defendants in the British case would not have been acquitted – and the judge would have been seen as committing a hate crime himself.
But to apply such a rule evenly would be to return to dependably impersonal, objective, impartial, neutral, even-handed justice.
That such real justice looks outdated, signifies that the Left has won.
We have said that judgment needs to be of the crime itself, regardless of its motive.
But are there some crimes for which the only discoverable or imaginable motive is “hate”?
Certainly there are.
And is the hatred motivating the perpetrators of such crimes sometimes a hatred of the race, or nation, or religion of their victims?
Certainly it is.
The worst hate crime in this century – worst in numbers, method, and effect – was what has come to be called simply “9/11” – the bombing of the World trade Center twin towers in New York on September 9, 2001. It was obviously motivated by religious hatred.
We argue that the motive does not excuse the crime. The motive does not make a crime less or more criminal.
But the Left holds that the motive of hate, however it is detected, does make a crime worse.
Any crime done out of hate is worse because of the hatred?
Well, no – comes the reply – not any crime. To conclude that would be logical, reasonable, Rightist.
In the case of 9/11, the argument goes, the hate was justified, because the crime and the hatred were in retaliation for prior crimes of hate committed by “the United States”, and/or “capitalists” involved with trade whose headquarters actual and/or symbolic were the World Trade Center, and/or President George W. Bush, and/or the Right in general.
In fact, many Leftists – or “social justice warriors”, SJWs – go so far as to argue that nothing done by the Left against any of those villains, even if done in a spirit of hate, can be classed as a hate crime, because it is always justified revenge. So the Left and its allies cannot commit a hate crime. For instance, a blow against a Muslim because he’s a Muslim is a hate crime, yes; but a blow by a Muslim against a non-Muslim because he’s a non-Muslim, is not a hate crime. Because Muslims are oppressed, strikes by Muslims are never morally wrong. The same argument applies if the striker is Black, or identified with any group they define as “oppressed”. The chief oppressors are always the United States, capitalists, white men, Israel, conservatives and Republicans.
All “oppressed” perpetrators of avenging attacks are justified by their victimhood. They cannot be accused of hate crimes. They are the eternal victims of hate crime.
And who are the “oppressed”? They are who the SJW’s say they are.