The “progressive” community — news media, politicians,
and various moralists at large — is in a lather about “hate
crimes,” demanding federal legislation to combat them. The trouble
is that nobody seems to know exactly what they are.
There are of course notorious and stereotypical examples — racial
lynchings, gang murders of homosexuals — about which there is
no room for doubt. But when we move to other cases, we find ambiguity.
If one man kills another in a rage over a homosexual advance, is that
a “hate” crime? What if a father kills a pedophile who
has tried to seduce his child? Would that be a “hate” crime?
The very word hate has become tendentious. White murders of blacks
may receive nationwide attention as hate crimes, but black murders
of whites — which are far more numerous — are rarely treated
as hate crimes; seldom do the media describe them as “racially
motivated.” When a six-year-old fatally shot a classmate in Flint,
Michigan, recently, the media tried to conceal the fact that the killer
was black and the victim white. And maybe race had nothing to do with
it. But on the same day, a black man in Pittsburgh went on a violent
spree, killing several whites at random after announcing his intention
to shoot white people, and there was no media uproar about racial hatred,
such as we have come to expect when whites commit “racially motivated” violence.
In fact, progressive-minded folks consider it hateful to call attention
to such obvious facts about interracial crime. They like to remind
us that America is a particularly violent country, but they refuse
to recognize the amazing disparity between blacks and other races.
The least violent states — the Dakotas, for example — are
those that are virtually all white; their crime rates are as low as
those of Norway and Japan. I’m probably committing a hate crime
by noticing this fact.
Gay rights groups consider themselves victims of hate merely because
most people consider homosexual acts immoral and disgusting. They call
Dr. Laura Schlessinger “the queen of hate radio” because
she has called them “sexual deviants.” But it’s clear
that they hate her far more bitterly than she hates them, and they
are waging a campaign to prevent her from getting a television show.
In fact it would be hard to find a more hate-crazed group than the
gay rights movement as a whole. It hates any religion that condemns
sodomy, dismissing a moral code as old as Moses as “bigotry”;
it desecrates churches and delights in obscene insults against Catholic
prelates like New York’s Cardinal O’Connor, without rebuke
from the progressive-minded. While demanding tolerance, it displays
none of its own. There is no better evidence of its own sense of defilement
than its love of defiling others; self-respecting people don’t
behave with such an utter lack of dignity. The civil rights movement
wouldn’t have succeeded if its leaders had mooned those Southern
Many of the people who like to bemoan hate actually thrive on it.
They ascribe it to their enemies with a priggish confidence that they
are immune to it, no matter how vile their own conduct is.
President Clinton constantly insists that “the things that unite
us” must take precedence over “the things that divide us.” But
the things that divide us may be important principles, which it’s
unfair and unrealistic to equate with hate. Even Christ said, “I
bring not peace, but a sword.” His words could be shockingly “divisive,” as
we now say. After 2,000 years, they still are.
Despite his platitudinous sanctimony, Clinton himself is quite a hate-monger,
but he incites hate against political targets rather than racial groups:
the special prosecutor, conservative talk radio hosts (who he said
inspired the Oklahoma City bombing), the tobacco industry, the National
Rifle Association. Since he does this in the name of protecting “our
children,” he gets away with it. The trick, of course, is to
make hate sound like love.
The concept of hate crimes is too nebulous, too subject to arbitrary
application, to be a useful legal category. It’s sufficient that
murder is already a crime; especially heinous murders can be punished
appropriately under existing laws. There is no need to give the state
more discretionary power than it already has.
Copyright © 2011 by the Fitzgerald
Griffin Foundation. All rights reserved. This column was published originally
by Griffin Internet Syndicate on March 21, 2000.
Joe Sobran was an author and a syndicated columnist. See bio
and archives of some of his columns.
Watch Sobran's last TV appearance on YouTube.
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during the FGF Tribute to Joe Sobran in December 2009.
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