Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Europe's Orwellian Thought Police

From WSJ (registration required):

Imagine if a leader within the tea party movement were able to persuade its members to establish a third political party. Imagine he succeeded--overwhelmingly--and that as their leader he stood a real chance of winning the presidency. Then imagine that in anticipation of his electoral victory, the Democrats and Republicans quickly modified an existing antidiscrimination law so that he could be convicted for statements he made on the campaign trail.

All of this seems impossible in a 21st-century liberal democracy. But it is exactly what is happening in Holland to Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders.

It really doesn't seem all that impossible, if you've been paying attention. Liberals in America have been all too happy to censure conservatives (e.g., the Fairness Doctrine) and criminalize thought (e.g., hate crimes). So far, they have failed - but the very endorsement of such tactics is shameful.

Discussions - 7 Comments

Do you suppose RICO could be used to something similar?

do something similar?

Agreed, shameful. The Left always likes to portray itself as morally progressive and dedicated to human decency, but their political actions belie that. They are power-worshiping hypocrites, pure and simple.

What do you mean Kate? RICO is used to fight organized crime and street gangs.

Prosecutors have to get past a grand jury, then win in court. A lot of due process obstacles to these grand abuses folks like to immagine.

The Fairness Doctrine is not good law since it was repealed by Reagan. Also the Fairness doctrine never censured speech it just required time to be set aside so that an opposing view point could be given There was a greater necessity for such laws when a good chunk of folks only had access to news via AM radio. You arguably had a more captive audience. Nowadays a fairness doctrine would be rather rediculous and unworkable.

This first amendment nexus stuff is pretty interesting to me.

I have more or less changed my mind on hate crimes and certainly don't oppose the classification or agree with any simplistic view that it criminalizes thought.

At issue are three interelated + lurking questions: Do ideas matter? Do words matter? Do motivations matter?

I tend to see hate crimes as crimes that are expressions. I suppose a good deal of crime expresses some sort of disrespect. Say I steal a pack of gum from Wal-Mart. I am expressing disrespect for property rights. But it doesn't really follow that I hate property. I obviously want my property respected, it was more a crime of impulse and opportunity. The instant gratification of a pack of gum was an end in itself, and there is no futher need to probe.

Now suppose I am a radical anti-Wal-mart protestor who conceives a plot to encourage the theft of gum and other small value items on a massive scale so as to disrupt and frustate commercial enterprise.

This same theft is a hate crime, because the crime is not an end in itself or carried out impulsively, but rather part of a larger plot, where the criminal act is not an end in itself, but something undertaken as a means to achieve a higher calling.

Take Gert Wilders, or most bloggers and commentators on No Left Turns. Consensus has it that September 11th was motivated by radical islam. That is the act is explainable and foreseeable with reference to an understanding of the teachings and principles of the ideology.

That is suppose a man comes home from a lousy day at work and beats his wife. Later on he appologizes. This isn't a hate crime, albeit some might argue that it is, but this only really insofar as all crimes are expressions of hate in a simplistic way.

But suppose the man is a radical islamicist and he comes home and beats his wife because she won't have sex with him and then rapes her. Both actions are deemed acceptable under the teachings of more radical clerics. This is a hate crime because there is a developed world view that justifies the action.

That is as soon as you say that ideas matter, that there is a "higher" purpose, or rationalization for the crime, then you have the makings of a hate crime.

In otherwords a wholesale rejection of "hate crime", would imply that ideas, words and mental states do not matter. You end up rejecting the saliency of "ism", so you say fascism schmacism, or racism schmacism, or islamicism schmacism.

All crimes are to some extend hate crimes, but among these crimes, there are crimes that don't repudiate the principle that the act in question is a crime. A thief may very well hold his property rights quite dearly, and thus doesn't act so as to will the non-existance of the law as a universal. These are hypocritical Kantian criminals.

In contradistinction the anti-wal-mart crusader wills theft as a universal in regards Wal-mart. It is a hate crime.

In contradistinction the islamicist wills wife beatings and spousal rape as a universal under sharia. It is a hate crime.

The skinhead wills the the non-existance of jews, fags, roma, niggers and that of any other group that poses an existantial crisis to western civilization as a universal.

So any action directed at such a group whose non-existance he wills as a universal is a hate crime.

It is only in denying the efficacy and existance of ideas/passions that matter and are willed as universal, that you can dismiss hate crimes.

Have prosecutors stopped abusing RICO? Perhaps I am behind the times on that abuse, although I am suggesting it could still be put to such use. Years back I knew anti-abortion protesters who were being dragged into court as conspirators under RICO. Hasn't it been used in other ways, in not as originally intended ways?

The problem with hate crimes is the matter of the state deciding what is hate. Can't we just prosecute your Walmart thief for his theft? Can't we just prosecute that Muslim for wife-beating? If my neighbor beat his wife because he had come to hate her, is the crime really different? If we could prove that my other neighbor also beat his wife, but loved her, does it make his a lesser crime? If someone mugs me because he hates some aspect of me, but he leaves me my wallet, am I somehow less aggrieved? Should his punishment be greater?

All such crimes are hateful, but adding this circumstantial extra bit of "justice" is not really more just.

John
“At issue are three interelated + lurking questions: Do ideas matter? Do words matter? Do motivations matter?”

Interesting thesis, and I agree that these things do matter in interpreting crimes, but it seems to me that the real “lurking” question is: Are ideas, words or motivations punishable by law? If any are, then is it not also true that every idea, word or motivation could be, depending on who makes the laws?

In your Wal-Mart example, while it is true that the anti-Wal-Mart guy might have a grudge against the company, until his actions result in the theft of more than 1 pack of gum, who has he hurt, except himself. There are legal codes to prohibit defamation, incitement to criminal activity, theft, harassment, etc. to lump all of these criminal actions under a “hate crimes” law seems to me a very slippery slope. We are, in effect, punishing this person for not liking another person, instead of causing actual harm (be it physical, emotional or financial). When we start legislating attitudes, rather then behavior, we have truly entered the world of “Big Brother”.

Mechelle is correct, punishing the motivation is always a dangerous slippery-slope kind of business. I guess we already do that when we charge people with murder version manslaughter, but those distinctions are simply aimed at intent rather than true motivation. In general, I think it's best simply to punish the action. Murder and assault are murder and assault -- why you do it isn't all that important.

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