While the so called conservative right tries to upend the constitution by trying to merge church and state, establishing imperial presidencies for those presidents it likes and support for torture, there is an equally troubling threat coming from the left in the shape of the thought police.
This threat was created when so called hate crimes legislation first saw light of day. I suppose the sentiment was in the right place. "Minorities" were the victims of race based direct violence for no other "rational" motive than that they were not white and from some Western European country. Such legislation made "sense" because who would support "racist" thinking? I mean you wouldn't want to be the person arguing FOR racists. Never mind that such legislation then put the government in the position of dictating what is proper (and legal) thought. No one apparently thought of the inherent dangers of such a thing.
To highlight the danger of handing arbitrary power to the state was brought to my attention last night when I was watching the Mentalist. The "good guys" were investigating the murder of some person under witness protection. They came to the house of a woman and they did not have a warrant. When they knocked the woman did not answer the door but did look out of one of her upstairs windows. The officers seeing this decided to make up a situation that would warrant the police to break down her door, guns drawn and enter the premises. There was no protest by any of the three officers regarding the illegality of a made up situation. I was bothered by that. But in reality such illegal acts by police on TV shows is quite normal. The ends justify the means. right?
So in this vein federal hate crime statutes are about to be expanded to include gender and sexual orientation. It will be "amusing" to see how many rapists will now be charged with a hate crime. But the fact that we are enabling the federal government (or any level of govt.) to actually add charges to things that are already crimes simply based on the person's alleged thoughts regarding their victim is bad.
The extremely flimsy argument put forth by those who advocate for these abominations of law is that we charge people for premeditated murder therefore it is OK to charge someone for racial, religious or gender based motives. There are a number of problems with such reasoning:
Firstly the charge of premeditated murder only distinguishes between the "crime of passion" the type that happened because the perpetrator snapped. And the type that a perp sat down and planned out long in advance. There is no specificity as to what actually motivated the perpetrator, whether it be hate, revenge or whatever. The person charged with premeditated murder is so charged because the planning to commit a crime and how to get away with has been done is also criminal. In other words it is about the process of how the crime is committed and not the motivation that differentiates premeditation from standard homicide. And I'm not going to defend this particular legal situation. I don't think people ought to be charged extra for what planning they did or did not do. I'm only concerned about the final act itself.
Understand that in large measure many of these extra crimes that have been put on the books are there simply as a means of putting people in jail for longer periods of times and has nothing to do with the actual danger that the supposed "crime" poses to members of society.
Secondly and most importantly in terms of hate crimes, a so called hate crime can be premeditated murder. So in essence the so called "hate crime" simply becomes another charge to throw at the perp. This is not much different than the minority report thesis. The state can convict you simply based on what your particular attitude is even though simply having the attitude does not constitute a crime.
Thirdly I believe that such legislation will devolve into what we see in certain countries where certain language or ideas referring to Jews is illegal. Or where one cannot say certain things about Islam or Mohammed. That may sound extreme but there are people out there today who would love to criminalize speech they don't like and they are not all conservative Christians or Muslims.
I was told a long time ago that a person's adherence to the principles of democracy was not how one protected the rights of those whom one agreed with, but how one protected the rights of those whom one does not agree. We don't need to agree with those who hate a particular racial group, religious group or sexual orientation. However; they have the absolute fundamental right to believe whatever they want about said groups. What they do not have the right to do is beat or kill people. And it's always been illegal to do that. Hate crimes legislation are laws looking for a crime. I for one am tired of giving the government bogus reasons to get even more interfere with my rights.