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Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Equality Before the Law

Selwyn Duke has an absolutely brilliant piece in the American Thinker today in which he argues that hate crimes legislation are the road to fascism. He is absolutely correct; while intent has played a role in sentencing for crimes, it has never been codified into law as criminal in and of itself. Duke argues that this criminalization is an attempt to control thoughts rather than actions, and the society which indulges in this is tyrannical. Duke is right.

The cornerstone of American law, and all western jurisprudence for that matter, is the concept of equal protection. Laws apply for all, to all, in a fair and even-handed manner. That`s the reason we say justice is blind; justice is supposed to be no respecter of persons. Hate crimes laws abrogate equal protection; they make some more equal than others in respect to the law. Under such legislation we see two judicial classes-those afforded special protections, and those who aren`t. The system is analogous to affirmative action laws, which most non-beneficiaries find odious, and which have done enormous damage to society and race relations. The difference is that affirmative action involves primarily civil law, while hate crime legislation has imposed this thinking on matters of crime and punishment.

This is very serious; America is under the rule of law, and respect for the integrity of criminal law is at the heart of our entire system. The application of affirmative action to civil law has turned our society upside down, and has fostered contempt for that aspect of American jurisprudence. Affirmative action, coupled with the rise of frivolous ``money grab`` lawsuits (I suspect there is a connection between them) has eroded the public trust because it has fostered an overall loss of respect for civil law, which has become frivolous. The great danger here is that we will see a similar contempt for criminal law arise through the application of the same principles of duality. If justice is not blind, she will surely become deaf.

Without respect for criminal law, our nation must maintain order through force of arms. At this point, we no longer have a free society, but, as Selwyn Duke points out, a tyranny. Equal protection fosters respect for the law; anything which splinters or dilutes equal protection opens the door to chaos.

You may remember, in the great ``workers paradise`` of the old Soviet Union, all were technically equal, but some more equal than others. The U.S.S.R. did not have the rule of law, but maintained order through the barrel of a gun. No-one respected the laws of the communists. Where are they now?



Blogger Mattias A. Caro said...

I'd be more worried about a crime committed out of any motive other than hate. That would truly be animalistic!

Great commentary, timothy!

5:41 PM  
Blogger TJ Willms said...

Right again Tim,

That was an excellent column, I only wish I had written it.

I think I hate Selwyn Duke!

Oops! never mind...

1:42 AM  
Blogger Timothy Birdnow said...

Thanks, Mattias!

Hey Tom,

I hate Selwyn Duke, too! He`s always swiping my work, and he has the nerve to steal from me before I write it!

5:31 AM  
Anonymous kwwilliams said...

I don't care much for hate crime legislation, but there is a problem with the article: his basic thesis is wrong. "Intent" has long been a part of the definition of crimes. "Breaking and entering with the intent to commit a felony" is the definition of burglary. If you only intended to watch television, you didn't commit burglary, only trespassing. Similar examples abound.

The real question is whether "hatred" should be criminalized. It shouldn't be. There are many, many people I actively hate. It is part of what drives me to rail against liars and deceivers like the Discovery Institute. If it finally drove me to physical action, then punish me for the physical action, not the well justified hatred.

Regardless, "intent" is a long established component of the definitions of crimes, not just the sentencing.

9:56 AM  

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