Hate crime? Of course, I hate crime! What did you expect? I’m a vicar.
No, no, no! I mean, Hate Crime—the new leftist innovation that David Isaac, Chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Inquisition, has got himself into a state over.
Isaac has written to Theresa May, Comrade Corbyn, etc. suggesting that the UK should carry out a ‘full-scale review of the operation and effectiveness of the sentencing for hate crimes in England and Wales, including the ability to increase sentencing for crimes motivated by hate, and provide stronger evidence to prove their hate crime strategies are working.’
The mind boggles.
Civilisation had to wait 3,000 years before the loony left came up with the legal absurdity of “hate crime” in the mid-eighties. John Leo used the term in 1989 in an article entitled “The Politics of Hate” in which he challenged a law proposed by the District of Columbia. Leo not unreasonably asked:
‘If a white mugs a black and delivers a slur in the process, is it a “hate crime” or an ordinary mugging with a gratuitous slur attached? Why should courts be in the business of judging these misty matters? If the skulls of all Americans are equally valuable (i.e. if this is a democracy), why not give everyone [the same sentence] for cracking any cranium at all.’
Likewise, today, a poor inner-city black man from Lewisham mugs a rich, black, university student from Cambridge. While kicking him unconscious he uses the n-word. He says that he hates him because he has betrayed his race and talks posh and goes to university. Is this a hate crime?
Or if a husband catches his wife in bed with his best friend. He bludgeons his wife to death, yelling at the top of his voice, “I hate you, b***h!”. He then shoots his friend while shouting, “I hate you Joe, for what you did with my wife!” All three are white and heterosexual. Is this a hate crime?
After all, in both the above cases the assailants have expressed intense hatred of the other!
Understandably, what hate crime is attempting to define is prejudicial hatred against certain groups that have been accorded victim status. ‘The current anti-hate crime movement is generated not by an epidemic of unprecedented bigotry but by heightened sensitivity to prejudice and, more important, by our society’s emphasis on identity politics,’ write James Jacobs and Kimberly Potter in a hard-hitting treatise Hate Crimes: Criminal Law and Identity Politics. Jacobs and Potter argue for abolishing the category of hate crime. Hate crime is about identity politics.
Hate is a feeling, an emotion of ‘intense dislike’ of someone. It may result in an act, but it is not an act. Even if hatred is understood as prejudice, prejudice is thinking ill of a person or certain groups of people. It may result in an act, but it is not an act. The law can only judge acts, not feelings or thoughts.
If the act is illegal anyway, to punish the offender’s prejudices or feelings behind the commission of the crime is to punish emotions or thought. Hate crime is thought crime prophetically spoken of in the Orwellian dystopia 1984 where the government decides what values, beliefs or opinions are hateful.
If hate is an emotion, then, like love, it is often irrational. Some of the nervous circuits in the brain responsible for hate are the same as those used for romantic love. So are we now to legislate on neurobiology? Can a law compel you to feel good about someone of another race, gender, or sexuality you intensely dislike? If the crime is already punishable under existing legislation, is it right and just to punish the offender’s thought or feeling in addition to punishing the offence committed? Is existing criminal law so limited that it cannot respond to crime?
Morally, are we to criminalise a hierarchy of motives? Is killing someone with the motive of jealously more evil than killing someone with a racist motive? Why is prejudicial hatred more morally reprehensible than hatred for jealousy or greed? Or is identity politics now the topmost rung in the ladder of moral hierarchy?
By privileging victim status we are saying that people belonging to some groups are more valuable than others and those not belonging to these groups are somehow less deserving of similar protection under the law.
Surprisingly, one of the oldest legal codes in the world does legislate against hate crime. It is the Mosaic code—the Jewish Torah. ‘You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbour, lest you incur sin because of him,’ says a statute in Leviticus. Deuteronomy goes even further. It commands the Israelites not to hate their oldest enemy who enslaved them. ‘You shall not hate an Egyptian, because you were a sojourner in his land’.
Ancient Israel could legislate on hate because it was a theocracy. The Mosaic Law was civil, criminal, ritual—all put together in a society where no distinction was made between sacred and secular and every aspect of life was brought under the jurisdiction of the God of Abraham. In the New Testament ‘hate’ does not have the force of state legislation. ‘Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness’ writes the apostle John. To hate someone is now a sin and no longer a violation of state law!
It is only religion in a theocracy that has the authority to legislate on hate (or love). For a secular state to pass legislation on hate crime is for it to usurp the role of the divine and to play God demanding total allegiance of thought and feeling; heart, mind and soul.
In a post-Christian society that has lost the religious category of sin and has no religious imperatives to regulate sinful thoughts, feelings, and emotions of hate and prejudice, secular law is taking the place of religion. This is idolatry at its worst. Quangocrat David Isaac and his political masters need to rethink hate crime before we are forced to bow before the god of the Totalitarian State and be punished for what we feel or think.
US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes expressed it a century ago: ‘If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought—not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought we hate.’
(Image: Quinn Dombrowski)