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July 25, 2005
More Hate-Crime Stupidity

The AP, in today's Washington Post, reports on racial disturbances in Buffalo, NY, which have resulted in an inconsistent application of hate-crime charges. Gang wars in two difference neighborhoods prompted differing reactions from Buffalo law-enforcement officials:

Five black teenagers are accused of roaming through a city neighborhood late Friday, shouting racially charged threats and, after an exchange of words, stabbing three young white men in a fight.

The five were charged with second-degree gang assault.

A week earlier, five white men in another neighborhood were charged with attacking a black man with a baseball bat and shouting racial epithets. They were charged with assault as a hate crime.

This points out one of the follies of hate-crime legislation. Here we have two similar incidents, involving similar motivations, and yet we have one group charged with hate crimes and another with just assualt. Both groups went out of their way to target different ethnicities for reasons of racial animosity. Only one will face prosecution for it. Why? It appears that hate-crime law treats one group of citizens differently than others, a violation of the Constitution.

This just reveals hate-crime legislation as self-defeating, hypocritical, and opposed to the best instincts of American jurisprudence. Motive goes to proving a crime; it should not constitute a crime in itself. Criminalizing intent amounts to and establishment of thought police. It leaves far too much possibility for capricious enforcement and application by politically-correct district attorneys, making a mockery of equal treatment under the law. The crime itself should be enough to garner the appropriate punishment, and if not, then the law should get strengthened to ensure that it does.

What I found most aggravating about this story is that the AP doesn't even address the disparity in the treatment of the two groups. Under the law, both groups should face hate-crime indictments. Under the traditions of American justice, neither side should have to face imprisonment for their thoughts, but for their actions instead.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 25, 2005 7:04 AM

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Buffalo's hypocritical Application Of Hate Crime Laws Captians Quarters has a post which points to a Washington Post article which underscores the hypocrisy of so-called 'hate crime' laws. Five Black Teens Are Charged In Racially Motivated ... [Read More]

Tracked on July 25, 2005 7:51 PM

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