ISSUES IN FOCUS
Week of June 28, 1998
One of the hallmarks of a totalitarian society is the imprisonment of individuals for their ideas. Did you know that, in America, there are individuals serving prison time for their beliefs, for the ideas they hold? Don’t believe it? Read on.
In a free and just society, if you commit a crime, such as assault, you are punished for that act, not for the idea which motivated the act. If an ignorant racist assaults someone, he is treated no differently than a better person who commits the same crime. The punishment is the same for both individuals. Assault is assault and the motive does not alter the nature of the act. Motive explains the act, it does not excuse, mitigate or make it worse.
One of the most ominous, dangerous moves by statists has been the enactment of legislation regarding so-called hate crime. With hate crime, you are punished not only for the act of assault but also for the idea which led to the assault.
Here’s how hate crime works. If you commit assault, let’s say the normal penalty is five years in prison. Under hate-crime laws, if you commit the assault because of racist ideas, or other bad ideas, then your penalty is "enhanced" with extra years in prison—and those extra years in prison are not for the act of assault but for the ideas which prompted the assault.
Forget racism’s irrational and odious nature, focus only on the precedent established by hate-crime legislation: you are to be punished, imprisoned, for holding a certain idea. It makes no difference that, so far, those receiving extra prison time are actual criminals: the fact remains these individuals, as reprehensible as they are, are serving prison time for their ideas.
It is no accident that actual criminals have been chosen as the initial target of hate crime. By selecting criminals who commit heinous acts, statists have successfully hidden their agenda. It has enabled statists to smuggle into their legislation hate crime’s dangerous precedent, one which will gradually spread to areas other than real crime. It will be driven by an irresistible logic: if it is right for the state to criminalize one idea, it is right to criminalize any idea.
Consider the other precedent established by hate crime: that it is a crime to hate. In a free society, hatred is not a crime. Those consumed by irrational hatred are free to act upon that hatred. There is only one prohibition: do not initiate force against another.
Hatred is an intense dislike of something. Hatred, like love, may be rational or irrational. Racial hatred, for instance, is irrational; other kinds of hatred are not. For every value you love, there is an implied hatred of its opposite. If you love life, you hate the prospect of eventual death. If you love health, you hate disease. If you love freedom, you hate enslavement. The hatred of those things which may destroy your values is perfectly rational. Such hatred is good.
Since the defining characteristic of hate is the intensity of your dislike of something, the campaign by the haters of hate is really an attempt to destroy your capacity for a passionate belief in anything, rendering you impotent to oppose them. Create a nation of sheep, individuals incapable of loving or hating anything, a nation of docile, pliable people and you have the kind easily manipulated by statists.
With the precedent of jail time for bad ideas and hate as a crime, statists will move with a vengeance against their enemies—those who love their freedom. The use of "hate" will be selective. Since statists control our various governments, they will target any idea which opposes the advance of statism. Statists hate freedom, but they will not be on the official list of haters.
The official list of "haters" will be any person or any group of individuals which opposes statism. The logic of hate crime’s precedent will drive statists to eventually make all such "haters" criminals—criminals subject to imprisonment. It may be a few years before journalists, writers--and you--are hauled off to jail for the crime of "hate," but it is coming as long as the precedents of hate crime are accepted and codified in law.
Hate is too weak a term to describe the searing contempt I have for statist politicians—individuals who, like Hitler, are only human beings in the biological sense of the term. If there had been, in the 20th century, a little more hate for such monsters, then millions of lives might have been saved. Long live the haters of tyrants.
June 28, 1998
© Copyright 1998 Fulton Huxtable