THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 543, November 1, 2009
"Each advocate [of socialism] secretly imagines
himself at the top of the hierarchy-to-come"
Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise
If you hang around teenagers enough you notice they say some real interesting things. "I can kick his ass with my bare hands" is high up on the list. "I'm going to get that little fag, he just stole my girlfriend," is another. That second one just turned a fight between two guys because one stole the other's girlfriend into a hate crime under the defense appropriation bill Obama just signed.
Teenagers use comments about gender and gender preference as insults all the time. To be honest, they use racial slurs as insults all the time also, not because they are racist but because they know such terms are hurtful. Yet under the new law an over zealous prosecutor just got the ammunition to turn something that merited a few days in school suspension into literally a Federal offense.
Common sense dictates that we allow for this behavior by kids and a lot of adults. We use the power of words to hurt before, after and during using fists and feet to hurt. Telling people they shouldn't fight disregards the truth that we are in fact animals that will combat for status, personal space and mating privileges. Telling people not to say hurtful words while confronting and duking things out with each other is a waste of breath. Yet now whole categories of insults have been given the status of being able to make a quick exchange of blows between two kids into a truly heinous crime, at least according to the consequences they might face.
Of course it should be recognized that bigotry is a particularly vile reason to cause another person injury.And of course we must recognize that making it clear that we no longer will tolerate the abuse or denial of another person's rights because of race, religion, gender, gender preference and other differences irrelevant to the right in question. Undoubtedly judges should consider that one acted out of racism, anti gay bigotry, misogyny or whatever in deciding how severely to punish an assailant.
But to set up a separate category of crime for this invites misuse. It will become too easy for some stat hungry federal prosecutor to "prove" he is fighting to end racism when all he is doing is turning low level misdemeanor brawling and assault charges into Federal felonies. And among the other things history has taught us it is that prosecutors looking to build stats have no problem with making mountains out of molehills.
So remember if I ever annoy you to the point where you have to take a poke at me call me a stupid SOB. Because if you call me a stupid mackerel snapper you've just committed a hate crime, even if in fact you are not prejudiced against Roman Catholics.