Monday, July 31, 2006

You'd Better Watch What
You Think
1984 revisited

Warning! Harsh language alert!

As someone who is technically considered mixed race, let me say that I find the entire notion of racial hate crimes to be revolting.

Case in point, courtesy of the Village Voice;

I saw no angry editorials or columns objecting to the 15-year sentence for Nicholas "Fat Nick" Minucci" as an extra-large Daily News headline celebrated his jailing for a "hate crime" against Glenn Moore, who is black. Minucci is white. And since the crime took place in Howard Beach, Queens, it recalls for many of us the death, 20 years ago, of a black man chased into parkway traffic there by a gang of white men.

Eight years of Minucci's 15-year sentence were added on because, as he hit Moore on the head with a bat, Minucci kept yelling, "Nigger!" That made it a "hate crime." Those eight years were not because of Minucci's act (the beating of Moore), but for what he said.

So the added sentence is for a thought crime. It has become settled in the majority American mind as evidenced by the "hate crime" statutes in other states too that it's not enough to punish someone for an act of violence if the act is accompanied by expressions of bigotry. There has to be more punishment.

The current view of the Supreme Court, that what you say can add prison time for what you do in a "hate crimes" case came down in Wisconsin v. Mitchell (1993). The defendant, Todd Mitchell, black, was convicted for "assaulting" a white teenager, and the trial judge added two years to the normal two-year sentence for aggravated battery, making it a "hate crime."

This is what happened in the "assault" as described in by far the best book on this issue, Hate Crimes: Criminal Law and Identity Politics (Oxford University Press), by NYU law professor James Jacobs and attorney Kimberly Potter.

Todd Mitchell and several friends had just seen the movie Mississippi Burning, about the notorious murders of civil rights workers in the South during the 1960s. In one scene, a praying black youth was beaten by a white man. As Mitchell and his friends left the theater, a white youngster walked by, and Todd Mitchell said to his companions:

"You all want to fuck somebody up? There goes a white boy, go get him." The white boy was beaten so badly that he suffered severe injury. But Todd Mitchell, as Professor Jacobs notes, "did not physically participate in the beating." (Emphasis added.)

I say simply prosecute Minucci and Mitchell for the actual crimes they did. If they so desire to talk smack inside prison, let 'em. Between the Aryan Brotherhood and the Black Muslims, it'll be a rather unpleasant stay.

But anyhow, I've often said "gee, I'm none too fond of the IRS". Does that mean I have an impending visit from the FBI in the dead of the night because I might purchase fertilizer and #4 diesel oil?

Why not? I've already expressed a thought crime by saying I don't like the IRS. That means that I just might be some anti-government nut job who wants to blow-up a government building... right?

I better stop for now. Big Brother might be listening.


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