November 30, 2004

Newsflash: Matthew Sheppard's "Hate Murder" Is a Myth
— Ace

So says 20/20, and I tend to believe them.

There are several problems with these hate-crime laws. First, they seek to penalize someone for a mere thought, when it is the action and the intent that have long been the only punishable elements of a crime. If you beat someone to death with a bludgeon and take his money, you're just a "mere" murderer. If you do the exact same thing but call him a "faggit" as you do so, now you're something worse than a murderer.

I don't know. To me, it seems that the murder is the really important trespass here. The "faggit" is an impolite and hurtful word that we usually don't jail people for. I think this desire to criminalize illiberal thoughts demeans the justice system, and diminishes the emphasis on punishing actual bad acts.

But in Sheppard's case, I don't sweat this particular problem, because these guys were murderers of one sort or another, and frankly I think they should either be locked in prison for the rest of their lives or put to death, under pretty much whatever which theory you might like.

So I have no real sympathy for them. Did they kill him just because they were greedy, violent criminals hoping to score 20 bucks? Did they kill him because he was a queer? Who cares? Either way, they're banished from society forever, and perhaps should be banished from the tangible, corporeal sectors of the earth as well.

But the problem is that Sheppard's death is taken as more important than, say, mine would be. There will be no HBO miniseries about me, should I fall pray to murder. There will be no prosecutors attempting to "send a message" regarding my hypothetical death. I'm just a white heteorsexual guy-- I don't really count.

Oh, sure, it's kinda bad to kill a white heteorsexual guy; but not super bad, as it is to kill a homosexual like Matthew Sheppard.

It's not so much the differing levels of punishment for hate-crimes that I object to, but the unavoidable differing levels of the valuation placed on human lives this regime creates.

Minorities complain that they are treated as second-class citizens. Often, they might have a point, and surely that feeling must wrankle.

But the law is now set up such that it more or less explicitly says that my death doesn't count as much as minority's. Sure, theoretically, there could be a hate-crime rap brought against a black man who kills a white man out of racial animus, or a homosexual who kills a heterosexual out of hatred of straights. But in practice, that just doesn't happen. Not because such things don't happen-- they do, and there are lots of cases to prove it-- but because prosecutors, the media, and minority lobbying groups just aren't interested in eradicating that sort of hate crime.

Everyone knows the deal-- these laws are intended for the protection of special classes of people. And there's nothing wrong with that, except for the unavoidable implication-- if there are special classes of victims, there must, inevitably, also be not-so-special classes.

And I am, alas, in several of those not-so-special classes.

It's not a good feeling to know that my government has deemed my potential murder as not terribly important, simply because of the color of my skin and my heterosexual orientation.

Posted by: Ace at 08:07 AM | Comments (26)
Post contains 576 words, total size 3 kb.

1 As the Great American Bard once said....

"As some warn victory, some downfall
Private reasons great or small
Can be seen in the eyes of those that call
To make all that should be killed to crawl
While others say don't hate nothing at all
Except hatred."

Bob there anything he doesn't know?

Posted by: Senator PhilABuster at November 30, 2004 08:17 AM (UHfuz)

2 Exactly, the subtext of hate crimes is that some victims are more impt than others. And since motivation has always been considered in sentencing, such legislation is unnecessary & dangerous, leading to speech restrictions in Canada & Eurabia. Granted, there never was free speech in Europe, but still...

PS Your comment preview ISN'T WORKING

Posted by: jeff at November 30, 2004 08:22 AM (R1mxh)

3 Ace- First time I've ever seen it from you--Typing fast? Throw a spellcheck in there...Wrankle=rankle & pray=prey.

Hate to be pedantic, but the reality is your shit is showing up and is linked to more every day, and you don't want errors marring your work when it's being viewed by future readers.

Delete this after viewing.

Posted by: AndrewF at November 30, 2004 09:16 AM (omyxt)

4 The Orwellian phrase "Hate Crime" should send shivers up the spine of any thinking person. The concept that any crime which may involve hatred for a "particular" group is therefore worse and punishable by a greater sentence necessarily means that (when it accompanies a crime) hating itself becomes a crime. How long before "hate speech" becomes a crime? And how long before "hate thoughts" become a crime? Big Brother is watching you.

Posted by: 72VIRGINS at November 30, 2004 09:19 AM (dhRpo)

5 LOL! I think AndrewF just politely said that there is a lot of loose shit going on here, and that since Ace is the most important person on this stage he (Ace) needs to slice like a f'ing hammer to clean it up.

All he left out were that the commenters get shirts....

Posted by: Senator PhilABuster at November 30, 2004 09:29 AM (UHfuz)

6 I used to share this opinion. But these days it seems to me that at least -religious- hate crimes -- particularly anti-Jewish ones, but also, you know, this -- are something we should be paying particular attention to, for obvious reasons.

Posted by: someone at November 30, 2004 09:39 AM (kMRF+)

7 Ace--

I love the bit in the Village Voice article:

"And in an odd twist, 20/20 reports that McKinney was himself a gay sex veteran, having joined in a threesome involving a man and a woman."

How, exactly, does one become a "gay sex veteran"? Do you have to, uh, fix bayonets on the frontline, or does serving in the rear echelon qualify? Do you get a ribbon for your service? Is this why gay people want to march in parades-- they're "veterans"?

I guess we should all stand up and salute their bravery, these gay sex veterans of America!

Dave at Garfield Ridge

Posted by: Dave at Garfield Ridge at November 30, 2004 09:40 AM (rV7Dk)

8 Yep

Posted by: Alan at November 30, 2004 10:47 AM (wqTb3)

9 I must dissent, politely.

On good faith and belief I assert more blacks are charged with hate crimes than whites each year. I'll look for the numbers and generate a post on my blog if I find them.

Posted by: Birkel at November 30, 2004 10:49 AM (I2/9/)

10 While I find the term "Hate crime" as loathsome as any other thought-crime b.s., I think your idea that it makes the death of another person less important a bit off base. There are lots of killings every year of mixed race and sexual orientation, the thing that makes the Shepard case "special", if you will, is the brutal, unexpected and spectacular method it was carried out in.

The point being, if you were driving through Camden in a beamer and got wasted, it'd barely make the evening news. If, however, you were in a small southern town and wandered accidently into a "black" bar, then three black people proceeded to drag you behind their car and beat the crap out of you and leave you for dead, simply for being white, your death would be national news. Perhaps not quite as much as the Sheppard case, but big none the less.

And they would classify that as a hate crime, in that case. Which wouldn't make you any less dead or the badguys any less murderers, but for whatever they think it's worth.

Posted by: francisthegreat at November 30, 2004 11:01 AM (LZ2fB)

11 Eh, it's not worth an actual post so I'm back to the comments section.

Here are some numbers for 1995.
Total: 8433
White: 4991
Black: 2253

In 1999 68% of the known offenders were white and 16% were black. Stupid PDF file available from the FBI website.

And in 2003, well I didn't take the time to open the stupid PDF. So sue me.

But it looks like both whites and blacks are "over-represented" as offenders under the hate crimes laws. (Stupid PC term, blech!!) I mean, the % of white people in the population is lower than the % of white people in the population charged with hate crimes. Ditto blacks.

Posted by: Birkel at November 30, 2004 11:13 AM (I2/9/)

12 Birkel,
You would have made your point better with the data above the 1995 data you used. It shows:

Anti-White 1,226 incidents with 1,554 victims
Anti-Black 2,988 incidents with 3,945 victims

Posted by: Steve L. at November 30, 2004 11:29 AM (hpZf2)

13 Ace, the solution is simple. If you're being beaten to death, simply yell, "I'm gay!" That will make the criminal stop and think for a second about whether he wants to add that extra little tidbit to his crime.

I'm all about problem solving.

Posted by: Sobek at November 30, 2004 12:00 PM (XwlU1)

14 Ace, I don't know why you're complaining. Don't you know that we don't need "White Boy Day" because EVERY day is white boy day? And now we're going to make up for hundreds of years of oppression by oppressing you! Ain't modern life grand?

On a more serious note, I too have a huge problem with this kind of labeling. Think about it in terms of First Amendment: We punish people for "incitement", that is, speech that is likely to cause other people to react violently. Get that? Your words "cause" someone to burn down a building or throw a brick, and you can be charged with a crime, and the First Amendment is okay with that. I've long had a problem with that line of cases. Why not charge the brick-thrower instead, since supposedly we have brains to filter other people's words and then decide for ourselves what actions to take? But that isn't what the government wants to punish -- instead, let's punish the ideas. Because we don't want people to say things that we think are dangerous.

Re: hate crimes, I say by all means punish the acts. But by saying that some people are extra-super special, or some acts are bad when done against one person, but super-bad against someone else because they are special -- that just leads to the whole "us/them" mentality that we're supposed to be breaking away from. It undermines the cause these people are advocating for, which is supposed to be equality. And equality, despite what liberals and feminists seem to think, means treating everyone the SAME, not trying to punish certain classes of people to make up for history. Justice Scalia said it about affirmative action: Our system of government has no room for the notion of a debtor class and a creditor class. Hate crime laws create and reinforce just such an idea.

Posted by: Jennifer at November 30, 2004 01:12 PM (4j15e)

15 But by saying that some people are extra-super special, or some acts are bad when done against one person, but super-bad against someone else because they are special -- that just leads to the whole "us/them" mentality that we're supposed to be breaking away from.

Apparently, you missed the memo. Opposing the "us vs. them" mentality was the goal of MLK. We decided to change that because there's no political profit in *ending* problems.

All crimes are equal but some are more equal than others.

Posted by: Smack at November 30, 2004 03:10 PM (CBDWx)

16 Ace:

In Texas, murdering someone for gain (whether drugs or cash) would probably earn you a quick trip to meet Mr. Needle in the Huntsville death chamber. And as these two weenies killed Shepard while in a meth rage, they would be likely to qualify for the "continuing danger to society" clause that you need to satisfy before getting sentanced to meet your Maker.

But you tell liberals who support Hate Crime legislation and they get all pasty white and start objecting about how barbaric that is.

(No satisfyin' some folks.)

Posted by: Mark L at November 30, 2004 04:24 PM (h4s+/)

17 I'd just like to point out that if Ace were to be murdered, there *could* be an HBO miniseries about him.

"Yeah, we killed him. He was all sarcastic and stuff, and we couldn't let him get away with making fun of us like that."

"COMING NEXT WEEK: The Weblog Murders. The true tale of how a nearly-famous Weblogger was killed because he was a little too annoying to someone he never really met."

Posted by: at November 30, 2004 06:19 PM (CWtwf)

18 Here's whatpisses me off about this. It was a meth-related robbery and assault that resulted in the death of the victim. It happened what, 10 years ago? We have been wanking off about what a shame it was that he was killed for being gay for 10 fucking years and it was all a lie. The truth is that if Shepard's friends hadn't blown (sorry) the gay whistle on this incident, no one outside Laramie Wyoming would ever have heard about it, and yet meth-related crimes continue to soar. Thank you fags for detracting from a real criminal problem in order to further your agenda by playing the victim card. Thanks a lot.

Posted by: Dacotti at November 30, 2004 08:54 PM (aZULh)

19 Steve L.,

I wasn't trying to make much of a point. I was trying to say the enforcement of such crimes are applied more to blacks than one (and Ace, if I read his post correctly) might initally assume.

Personally, I think the idea of increased punishment for certain thoughts is ludicrous. Check that. I think it's antithetical to American values and the spirit of Constitution of the United States. But the numbers don't support one of Ace's minor points. That's all.

I think hate crimes legislation is legal and bad law. They doesn't violate the 14th Amendment, as I understand it from my training. They do run counter to the rest of the law I've read. *sigh*

Posted by: Birkel at December 01, 2004 12:02 AM (2z2o5)

20 If you are killed, I'll write a play called "The Cowbell Project," which won't be picked up by HBO and made into a movie. Maybe Spike TV will bite, but regardless, I'll pin it on Dan Rather, hate crime all the way. After I plant pajama fibers on him, that is.

Posted by: Uncle Mikey at December 01, 2004 03:53 AM (kqBJN)

21 Here in Oregon just a couple of weeks ago, some black members of the Oregon State U. football team beat up and knocked unconscious a white Army Natl Guard soldier who was spending his last night in the states before deploying to Iraq. Unfortunately for him, he had a black girlfriend/wife (I don't remember which). To the university's credit they did suspend the football players, but is there any uproar about hate crime in the media? Any story? No not really. How can you make a story out of that? If four white football players had knocked unconscious a black soldier for having a white girlfriend would there have been an uproar? Hmmm...I'm not sure.

Posted by: Mark at December 01, 2004 08:49 AM (G6key)

22 disgusting, ignorant, and misguided -whoever the fuck u are Ace -u r a nuisance to society.... apparently blinded by the privilege being a white, normative, hetreo ass who lacks compassion and the ability to question conventional dogma- i'm sure u've never experienced oppression and it is beyond ur meager mental capabilities to acknowledge societal problems in amture way (aka sans the lame whining)

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