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« Another Run at '31 | Main | Frederic Bastiat, NFL GM »

Steyn - As Only Steyn Can Be

One of the arguments for hate crimes legislation is that it will deter hate crimes. But of course, this is absurd on the face of it. The drunken gang that's headed out the door to go string up some gay student in Wyoming isn't going to stop at the door and say to themselves, like the cows in a Far Side cartoon, "Hey guys, you know, this is a hate crime..."

The goal here is that minority groups can claim special protections under the law. And the problem is that all groups aren't created equal. Jews think that they'll get protection from Nazis and Islamists, and end up being told to bug off, because the other groups push harder.

In 2002, a brick was thrown through the window of the CU Hillel House, and its sukkah had a swastika painted on it. Nope, the Boulder police, doing their best Lt. Frank Drebbin impersonation, decided that this wasn't a hate crime, nothing to see here, please move along.

On July 4, 2002, an Egyptian living in Los Angeles walked up to the El Al counter at LAX and started plugging bullets into everything in sight. Turns out he had some rather provocative Islamist literature hanging around his apartment and on his front door. Nope, wouldn't want to call this an act of terrorism or anything. Probably upset his family couldn't get a direct flight to Tel Aviv from Cairo.

Just recently in Brooklyn, an orthodox Rabbi had his yarmulke snatched off his head by a group of "youths" shouting "Allah hu-Akhbar." He chased after the gang, and one of them ended up in the middle of the street where a passing car administered its own form of rough justice. New York's finest didn't see anything odd here, just some kids who probably didn't know what "Allah hu-Akhbar" meant. This is the same mentality that would find the violation of Clean Air Colorado regulations the most offensive thing about a cross-burning.

In fact, hate crime laws are unnecessary. I've got as much to fear from someone who beats me up for my wallet as from someone who beats me up for my religion. If there are groups promoting this sort of violence, then there are already conspiracy and RICO laws on the books. And if there's a Moseley hanging around with a full-fledged political movement behind him, a little thing like a hate-crime law won't stop him. Like disarmament treaties, they only work where they're not needed.

But don't just listen to me. Watch Mark Steyn make the case, as only he can.

And then look at who's speaking in favor of the federalization of thought crimes.


I don't know if this will help you in your political career, but you sound an awful lot like James Q. Wilson.

FWIW, if you check the FBI's hate crime statistics, guess which ethnic group suffers from the highest rate of (reported) hate crimes?

(Not the most in absolute terms though.)

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