Hate speech laws in so-called “free-speech” countries
How free speech is contrived to allow governments
to discriminate at will in hate-speech-law countries
Two examples: Sweden and India, with discussion of recent incidents
1/ Quran burning and incitement against religion in Sweden
2/ Saffron bikini and defilement of religion in India
1/ Quran burning and incitement against religion in Sweden
“Turkish protesters have expressed outrage in Istanbul after a far-right politician burned a Quran in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.” (Al Jazeera English, YouTube, Jan 22)
As there is no freedom of speech in Europe, the request to ban and punish this kind of act/speech, Quran burning, is a legitimate demand of nondiscrimination. Swedish law criminalizes hate speech out of consideration for communitarian feelings. Therefore, the failure of Swedish authorities to prosecute such acts is contemptuous: not attending to this particular community’s feelings while they claim to attend to communitarian feelings sends the message that this community is not worth attending to, according to Swedish authorities. They simply do not want this community to be protected by Sweden’s hate speech laws, and this is blatant discrimination.
My message to Swedish authorities: You are contemptible. What are your hate speech laws for? Stop discriminating against Muslims and prosecute Quran burning as hate speech.
Where is the Swedish law that bans freedom of speech out of consideration of a religion’s belief?
It is where everybody can find it. “Hets mot folkgrupp blev olagligt 1949. På den tiden var det enbart härstamning och trosbekännelse som var grunder för hets mot folkgrupp. Detta ändrades 1970 till ras, hudfärg, nationellt eller etniskt ursprung eller trosbekännelse. År 2002 tillkom sexuell läggning och år 2019 könsöverskridande identitet eller uttryck.” (Wikipedia: Hets mot folkgrupp) The important word for the asked question is “trosbekännelse,” which means religious belief. Translation: “Incitement against groups became illegal [in Sweden] in 1949. At that time, descent and creed [trosbekännelse = religious belief] were the only grounds for incitement against groups. This was changed in 1970 to race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, or creed [again]. In 2002 sexual orientation was added and in 2019 gender identity or expression.”
Who are you to dictate how I dispose of my property?
You’ll have to ask this question to the Swedish legislator. – The technical answer, however, is that you can’t criminally dispose of your property. If you dispose of your property by making a hate speech of it, you’ll be prosecuted for hate speech by Swedish authorities.
So what forms of disposal are not hate speech? Presumably, burning is ruled out.
All disposal is not in the form of calling people’s attention. – If you ask me how they dispose of their old Quran copies in Muslim countries, I don’t know. All I know is that, if a person disposes of a Quran copy in Sweden and one finds it in his trash can, or if he burns it in his backyard, this is not hate speech. But what happened in front of the embassy is blatant hate speech (against a group based on its members’ creed or religious belief) and the negligence of authorities to act accordingly proves they discriminate against Muslims. It’s not too late.
The answer from the Swedish authorities so far has been, to sum it up: “The act was very insensitive, but we are a free-speech country.” This is not true. Sweden is a hate-speech-law country: “Incitement against groups became illegal in 1949. At that time, descent and creed were the only grounds for incitement against groups. This was changed in 1970 to race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, or creed. In 2002 sexual orientation was added and in 2019 gender identity or expression.” The Swedish authorities are bound by their legislation to prosecute the wrongdoer; by their obdurate negligence to do it, they show that, as a principle, they refuse to comply with their hate speech legislation when the targeted group is Muslims. They thus discriminate against Muslims. On the one hand, they tell their national communities, their “groups” (folkgrupp), that Sweden protects them from hate speech by criminalizing hate speech; on the other hand, they claim they guarantee freedom of speech when one of these groups in particular is wronged by hate speech. You don’t need to be a Muslim to feel contempt for such malfeasance.
2/ Saffron bikini and defilement of religion in India
For a better understanding of the following, read “Saffron bikini v. national flag bikini” in Law 29.
Film Pathaan, with a saffron bikini dancing scene, was released this month amid protests. I support the protests. As the authorities disregard the outrage over saffron bikini, they should apologize to and compensate all people who have been convicted for tricolor (national flag) bikinis and other tricolor trappings, and I’m told they are not few. You’ll perhaps say in reply that India is a secular country and authorities have a mandate to ensure respect for the tricolor symbol, not for the saffron symbol, which is religious. There exist stringent laws about incitement and respect for community feelings in India: Why the negligence? Does secularism mean that a secular, atheistic elite will be granted the privilege to offend religious feelings, while the people is gagged?
No matter how Hindutva the government is, outrage over saffron bikinis is disregarded, the problem does not exist for them. They will keep focusing on hunting tricolor bikinis and other tricolor trappings. The numerous tricolor precedents, the stringent provisions of incitement laws, constitutional protection of communities’ feelings, are of no avail to a Hindutva government against the privileged few who bought a never-ending license to outrage religious feelings.
What about sadhus who wear a single saffron loincloth?
The comparison is misguided. Although there exist laws against nudity in India, they do not apply to sadhus, because a sadhu’s nudity is not the same as a paid actress’s nudity, the aim of which is to attract or arouse prurient interest. By the same token, a sadhu wearing saffron is not the same as an actress whose body is used as an object for making money through prurient interest, adding an insult to religion through saffron symbolism.
The good news is that Bollywood needs to be saved, that is, it is heading toward irreversible collapse. “Can Pathaan save the Bollywood?” (Mirror Now) You’re asking too much of a saffron bikini.
“Pathaan 1 – Saffron Brigade 0.” Why the sarcasm? Is it proper of a news media? In a country where tricolor brigades are terrorizing tricolor bikinis and other tricolor trappings, such disregard for religious feelings by the authorities is as offensive as the offense itself. And don’t tell me this is a victory for free speech: the tricolor brigade is watching you.
Their apathy will remain a stain on Indian authorities. If you think a tricolor bikini is an insult, and Indian law seems to think it is (see Gehna Vashisht and other cases), then a saffron bikini is blatant hate speech (Sections 153 and 295 of the Indian penal code). Negligence to act accordingly on the part of authorities is discriminatory remiss.
Section 295: “Whoever destroys, damages or defiles any place of worship, or any object held sacred by any class of persons with the intention of thereby insulting the religion of any class of persons or with the knowledge that any class of persons is likely to consider such destruction, damage or defilement as an insult to their religion, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.” (Emphases ours.)
Let us examine what a saffron bikini is, according to the wording of the law. We are talking about defilement, as sacredness is purposefully associated with pruriency in the form of scant clothing and lascivious dancing. The object is not a bikini in itself but a bikini purposefully made saffron. We do not have to prove that the wrongdoing is purposeful, as Hindus’ reverential feelings for saffron are well-known. Rather it is the accused who must prove they did not do the wrongdoing on purpose; they must provide convincing evidence that none of them had realized that the saffron bikini could upset Hindus’ feelings. In the words of the law, they must prove that they had no “knowledge that any class of persons [was] likely to consider such defilement as an insult to their religion,” and good luck with that: were these people brought before a court, I don’t think they could provide the least convincing evidence of ingenuity, unless, perhaps, they wriggled on the ground like worms and cried, because where in the world is saffron known for its religious symbolism if not in India? Think about it: these people, instead of being removed behind bars for two years, are going scot free, protected by a Hindutva BJP-led coalition government.
“A battle for freedom of speech”? I didn’t see journalists battle for free speech when a FIR (first information report by police) was filed against half a dozen people dancing with Aurangzeb’s poster in Maharashtra, a few days ago (see Law 31: Aurangzeb’s Ghost). Sections 95, 153, 295 etc. of the ICP are the law. Journalists do not oppose it, they only oppose its application to defilements of religion by Bollywood.
At the same time that the Indian union government refuses to listen to its grassroots militants on Pathaan, and asks them to stop the stir, it bans a BBC documentary about the 2002 Gujarat riots in which hundreds of Muslims were murdered by mobs.
The ban is either legal or illegal. If it is illegal, there is no question of opportunity. If it is legal, there is no question of opportunity either, because the executive power is not allowed to pick up laws it will carry out from laws it will not carry out. The government must execute the whole legislation (hence its name: executive). Those who discuss the ban from the opportunity angle are wrong. If they disagree with the ban, they should, assuming the ban is lawful or constitutional, voice criticism against the law that allows such a ban, that is, they should ask to remove legislation that allows the authorities to ban this kind of speech. Let me know if they do. I assume they all discuss the opportunity and not the legality issue, because they are the opposition that wants to be the majority, and as the new majority they will want: 1) discretionary, not just executive power, 2) to ban criticism. They are all of a kind and form the political cartel.
I disagree with the idea that the executive should be granted even a minimal discretionary power: all decisions based on opportunity are discriminatory, by preventing expected benefits or sanctions of the law. Even though the idea is as commonplace as the practice, neither the idea nor the practice are constitutional, and they cannot be, as this would mean actual suspension of the separation of powers, and of checks and balances.
Despite their commonalities, both cases illustrate two different situations. In the Swedish case, one religious minority is discriminated against by the authorities. In the Indian case, the Hindu majority’s right to be protected by the law is disregarded by the authorities, which shield one sector of the society, namely Bollywood, from the legislation; in other words, against the religious majority, the Indian authorities discriminate in favor of this sector by elevating it above hate speech laws. Both actions are extralegal, namely, given the constitutional characterization of the executive power, illegal and unconstitutional. Through the practice, the will of the legislator is overlooked and the role of the judiciary undermined. The practice is defended on the ground that this overlook is needed and will occur only in situations where the generality of the law presents flaws that put the state at risk. The only possible arbitrator for this is the people and that supposes, therefore, that the people has an effective right to insurrection, which, absent a constitutional right to bear arms, is nonexistent. Otherwise, the practice should be set guidelines in the form of constitutional measures about the state of emergency. In the two cases we have discussed, the authorities are abusing their discretionary power without redeeming circumstances.
“[Female ex-BJP leader] Gets Gun License Citing ‘Life Threats’ Over Prophet Remarks.” (India Today, YouTube)
How long does it take to get a license? The authorities must verify the claim and that surely takes time. She seems to have had her license in no time, but is it the case for all Indian citizens? One day, you’ll hear that a man applied for a license because he was threatened, the claim was investigated by authorities, with a lot of red tape, and meantime the man was killed. Mark my words, you’ll hear about something like that, or I don’t know bureaucracy. An unconditional right to carry guns is the only correct alternative to a ban.
About current massive layoffs in big tech companies (Google, Meta, Twitter…). The revenue of a good deal of these so-called big tech companies is from advertising. Massive layoffs in big tech tell you manufacturing companies cut down their advertising spending because they are in poor condition. Badly impacted manufacturing and other companies first respond by cutting down on advertising. Big tech companies then have no other choice than cutting down on their workforce, because advertising is their main revenue. What massive layoffs in big tech tell you is the incoming massive layoffs in all other sectors, as advertising revenue dependent big tech companies are the first to cut down on the workforce.
“10 Palestinians Killed In ‘Deadliest’ Israel Raids in Years.” (NDTV, YouTube, Jan 27)
This headline is foolish. The raid is “deadliest in years” because of 10 casualties and one month ago 8, two months ago 9, three months ago 9 again, four months ago 6, and so on; something like that. About 200 Palestinians were killed in Israeli raids in 2022 alone. (212 according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.)
“Iranian drones program’s success and what are the lessons for India.” (The Print, YouTube, Jan 27)
Given the scathing indictment regarding Indian national production (“promising the moon and failing to deliver,” etc.), one should not disregard the possibility of corruption of national authorities by foreign suppliers. If decision-makers are biased toward foreign supply through corruption money, India will never develop serious programs of her own. At this stage, you may well ask the question.
Ironically, an excuse from the Indian side is that, in Iran, things are under control of the Guardians of the Revolution: “It is easier there because everything comes under the control of the Islamic revolutionary guard corps,” says a “source in Indian defense establishment.” Well, yes, the Guardians probably better enforce the country’s own anti-corruption laws, so the excuse almost sounds like an admission, or veiled whistleblowing.
La guerre par procuration expliquée par la France
Le texte suivant complète notre essai « Casus belli : Réflexions sur la guerre en Ukraine » de mai 2022 (ici).
Un article en ligne du 5 mars 2022 du Club des juristes, « La fourniture d’armes à l’Ukraine : quel cadre en droit international ? » (ici, auteur : E. Castellarin), présente le dispositif juridique utilisé par les nations de l’OTAN pour légitimer leur action de fourniture d’armes à l’Ukraine contre la Russie. Cet article appelle plusieurs remarques.
La première est que ce cadre est purement multilatéral et que le raisonnement bilatéral que j’emploie dans mon essai semble désormais exclu du champ de la pensée ; à savoir, les accords préventifs bilatéraux de défense, dont l’idée brille par son absence dans cet article, n’entrent apparemment plus dans le raisonnement des États européens, de sorte que mon argument selon lequel les États d’Europe de l’Ouest auraient pu offrir à l’Ukraine la garantie d’une intervention armée en cas d’agression russe, doit passer pour une bizarrerie désuète aux yeux des juristes avertis. Cela les regarde. Mais quid des États-Unis ? Ces derniers n’offrent-ils pas leur bouclier militaire à plusieurs pays, dont l’Arabie Saoudite ? Qu’est-ce qui les empêchait alors d’offrir le même bouclier à l’Ukraine, par exemple après l’annexion de la Crimée par la Russie ? Il semblerait que ce puisse être en partie les dispositions du droit international elles-mêmes, dans la mesure où celles-ci peuvent désormais permettre à des États de conduire une « guerre par procuration » (proxy war) sans se voir pour autant qualifiés ipso facto de parties au conflit. Examinons les différents dispositifs juridiques présentés par l’article.
« Dans l’affaire relative aux activités militaires et paramilitaires au Nicaragua, la Cour internationale de justice a été confrontée à la fourniture d’armes par les États-Unis aux contras, un groupe rebelle actif au Nicaragua. Elle a exclu que la fourniture d’armes puisse être qualifiée d’agression armée, mais elle a affirmé qu’on peut y voir une menace ou un emploi de la force (§ 195). » Ça ne commence pas très bien pour l’OTAN, du côté de la CIJ. Le § 195 de la décision de la Cour, de 1986, pourrait en effet servir à la Russie de fondement juridique à l’invocation d’un casus belli : « menace ou emploi de la force ». (Le terme même de casus belli est sans doute devenu tout aussi désuet que les contrats bilatéraux de défense territoriale évoqués dans notre précédent paragraphe, vu que cette notion simple est à présent décomposée en agression armée, d’une part, et menace ou emploi de la force, d’autre part.)
Notre juriste considère cependant que la décision de la CIJ est inapplicable au cas de l’Ukraine : « En réalité, l’analyse de la CIJ n’est pas applicable au conflit armé international en cours en Ukraine. L’armée ukrainienne a le plein contrôle, ponctuel et global, de ses actions, si bien qu’on ne peut pas analyser la fourniture d’armes un emploi indirect de la force par les États occidentaux contre la Russie. » Voire ! Il faudrait tout d’abord s’assurer que la CIJ a bel et bien prétendu que « le plein contrôle, ponctuel et global, de ses actions » par une armée excluait a priori un emploi indirect de la force par ceux qui lui fournissent des armes. Certes, l’armée ukrainienne est différente d’une organisation comme celle des contras au Nicaragua, et le conflit lui-même est différent. Mais nous ne voyons pas ce que veut dire cette réserve émise par l’auteur : en quoi les contras n’avaient-ils pas eux aussi « le plein contrôle, ponctuel et global, de [leurs] actions » ? Que signifie cette formule alambiquée ? Un tel embrouillamini peut-il se trouver dans une décision de justice internationale ? Nous en doutons. Nous mènerons cette recherche et y reviendrons. Pour le moment, nous considérons que c’est là une simple pirouette, une argutie sans queue ni tête. L’armée ukrainienne ne se distingue pas des contras sous l’angle obscur ici présenté, et, à défaut de plus ample explication, nous considérons donc que la décision de la CIJ s’applique au présent conflit. Poursuivons.
« Du point de vue du droit coutumier des conflits armés, la fourniture d’armes est incompatible avec le statut de neutralité » Cela ne continue guère mieux pour l’OTAN, du point de vue du droit international coutumier. Les États fournissant des armes à l’Ukraine ne sont pas neutres. Mais sont-ils pour autant, comme un raisonnement fondé sur le principe logique du tiers exclu pourrait le laisser penser, des parties au conflit ? La réponse du droit international est, selon notre juriste, négative : « Cependant, cela signifie simplement que les États qui fournissent des armes ne peuvent pas se prévaloir des droits des États neutres, par exemple celui d’obtenir la réparation d’éventuels dommages collatéraux subis en raison d’un bombardement sur le territoire d’un État partie au conflit. En revanche, la perte du statut d’États neutres au conflit en Ukraine ne signifie pas que ces États sont devenus parties au conflit. »
Notre juriste croit donc qu’il existe, relativement « au conflit en Ukraine », des États ni neutres ni parties au conflit. « Cette situation, » de partie au conflit, « qui impliquerait notamment le droit de la Russie de cibler les forces armées de ces États, ne se produirait que si celles-ci prenaient directement part aux hostilités ». Les États de l’OTAN sont donc sortis de leur neutralité mais, comme ils ne prennent pas directement part aux hostilités, ils ne sont pas non plus des parties au conflit. Cela confirme l’analyse russe de la « guerre par procuration » menée par ces États. En effet, si ces États ne faisaient pas la guerre, ils seraient neutres, or ils ne sont pas neutres, et s’ils prenaient directement part aux opérations, ils seraient parties au conflit, or ils ne le sont pas non plus : ils font donc la guerre par procuration (proxy war). L’analyse russe est entièrement conforme à ces éléments juridiques.
La suite de l’article tend à montrer que ce comportement est « internationalement licite ». Tout d’abord, le Traité sur le commerce des armes n’est prétendument pas violé, car les États n’ont pas connaissance, au moment de fournir ses armes, qu’elles « pourraient servir à commettre » un génocide, des crimes contre l’humanité ou des crimes de guerre. Cette clause du traité est cependant suffisamment générale pour que des livraisons d’armes lors d’un conflit en cours soient susceptibles de servir à commettre de tels actes. L’article ne dit pas en effet que les fournisseurs n’ont pas connaissance que leurs armes « serviront à commettre » des crimes, une formule qui serait moins contraignante pour les fournitures d’armes. On rétorquera peut-être que, de la façon dont je l’entends, peu de fournitures d’armes resteraient licites, mais n’est-ce pas précisément l’intention des concepteurs et signataires du traité que de lutter contre la prolifération ? En l’occurrence, exclure que des crimes de guerre puissent être commis par l’une des parties lors d’un conflit en cours est ou bien de l’angélisme ou bien un parti pris belliqueux qui ne peut être conforme à l’esprit du traité.
Cependant, l’UE a souhaité se garantir à ce sujet, en introduisant une clause suspensive en cas de violation du droit international par l’Ukraine, ce qui est interprété par notre juriste comme une preuve de respect formel du traité par l’UE. Voire ! Cette clause montre au contraire, selon nous, que l’UE se doute que ces armes « pourraient » servir à commettre des crimes de guerre etc., et qu’elle n’a donc formellement pas le droit de fournir ces armes. En prétendant prévenir les crimes de guerre etc., elle avoue être consciente que de tels crimes pourraient être commis, et c’est précisément cette prise de conscience qui devrait l’empêcher de livrer des armes.
Enfin, la résolution ES-11/1 de l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies ayant qualifié l’opération russe d’agression, l’Ukraine est « indéniablement » en légitime défense. L’auteur précise certes que la résolution onusienne est « dépourvue d’effet obligatoire et silencieuse sur la fourniture d’armes » (ce qui est un peu regrettable en termes de droit positif) mais affirme que c’est une « interprétation authentique de la Charte, objectivement valable pour tous les membres ». Ce qui est objectivement valable et en même temps dépourvu d’effet obligatoire, est surtout dépourvu d’effet obligatoire, en droit. Autrement dit, la question de l’agression et de la légitime défense reste ouverte. Le traitement des minorités nationales en Ukraine invoqué par la Russie est en débat. Or c’est la légitime défense qui est le principal élément de justification des nations de l’OTAN. En légitime défense, « [l]’emploi de la force de sa part [l’Ukraine] est licite (art. 51 de la Charte des Nations Unies) et ne peut pas engager sa responsabilité (art. 21 des articles de la Commission du droit international sur la responsabilité de l’État pour fait internationalement illicite), ni celle des États qui l’aident et l’assistent. » La légitime défense est plus qu’une légitimation, selon cette présentation, c’est un véritable blanc-seing (et la présentation est donc douteuse : certaines violations du droit naturel ne peuvent recevoir aucune justification et engagent toujours la responsabilité). Mais c’est aussi un point contestable, l’Ukraine ayant peut-être conduit sur son territoire une politique contraire au droit humanitaire envers la minorité russophone, et contraire également aux intérêts fondamentaux de son voisin, comme le prétend la Russie s’agissant des régions frontalières du Donbass et autre, dont la situation extrêmement troublée avant l’intervention russe n’a échappé à personne.
2 Preliminary Dismissal of Deceptive Appearances
In Europe they have hate crime laws, hate speech laws, and police states. (Cf. City of Houston v. Hill, U.S. 1987, holding that “[t]he freedom of individuals verbally to oppose or challenge police action without thereby risking arrest is one of the principal characteristics by which we distinguish a free nation from a police state.” By this well-thought definition European countries are not free nations but police states indeed.)
In U.S. they only have hate crime laws.
What makes hate crime laws so unexceptional?
“Hate crimes are offenses that are committed because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation of another individual or group of individuals. … Various state courts found that, since the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment protects speech and thought, even when that speech or thought is offensive, any law criminalizing thought should be rendered unconstitutional.” (Hate crimes by Kristin L. Stewart, J.D. [excerpt] in Encyclopedia of American Law, D. Schultz ed., 2002)
If a crime is found to be this or that “(name a crime) as a hate crime,” penalties are increased.
2 Preliminary Dismissal of Deceptive Appearances
Contrary to appearances, hate crime laws in the United States are probably not designed to protect the white population from black criminals. How, then, could such appearances have arisen?
First, we are told about an epidemics of hate crimes. “If you believe the news, today’s America is plagued by an epidemic of violent hate crimes” is from the presentation of the book Hate Crime Hoax: How the Left is Selling a Fake Race War (2019) by Wilfred Reilly, assistant professor of political science at Kentucky State University.
Second, we know the massive proportion of black inmates in the prison population of the States: cf. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2012) by Michelle Alexander, visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary, New York City.
Third, in Wisconsin v. Mitchell, 1993, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a hate crime state statute. A group of black men had assaulted a white boy after watching the film Mississippi Burning. It was found their attack was racially motivated and the increased penalty of the instigator, Todd Mitchell, justified.
From (1), (2) & (3), one would swear blacks are responsible for the epidemic of hate crime. Indeed, it is hard to see how a crime epidemic, namely a hate crime epidemic, would not be reflected in the prison inmates population, that is, how the disproportionate numbers of black inmates in prison would not reflect the hate crime epidemic, especially considering the emblematic precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court on hate crime laws applies to a black defendant who challenged the constitutionality of his increased penalty.
This is a deceptive appearance. In reality hate crime laws protect minorities.
Hate crime laws trivialize crime
“This book is as timely as today’s headlines. Professor Lawrence has written a powerful, persuasive, and eloquent call for more effective action by Congress and the states to deal with these despicable crimes. Civil Rights is still the unfinished business of America. Hate crimes are uniquely destructive and divisive, because their impact extends far beyond the victim. They poison entire communities and undermine the ideals for which America stands. They deserve to be punished with the full force of the law, and Professor Lawrence’s book brings us closer to that important goal.” Senator Edward M. Kennedy on Punishing Hate: Bias Crimes under American Law (2002) by Frederick M. Lawrence.
This praise by Sen. Kennedy contains all the appalling mistakes an informed person is supposed not to make when thinking and talking about crime and the law.
“This book is as timely as today’s headlines.”
It is known, it is even common-sense, since at least Roscoe Pound (Criminal Justice in America, 1930), that to resort to designing criminal law in hysterical reaction to headlines is the worst one can think of, it is Lynch mentality smuggled into the legislative bodies and through them into the courts.
Sen. Kennedy’s is the confession he was a headline-law maker, one who made headline laws. With lawmakers like him, it is headlines which make laws. Yet no one knows what the headlines reflect (a few people believe they reflect reality). If media were neutral reporting agencies, then, given what has been said in II about New Jim Crow, media treatment of crime would reflect the makeup of prison population (because prison population is a good token for the known figure of crime), that is to say the media would devote the same share of crime news to black crime as the share of black inmates population in prisons. Is this the case?
If this is not, even if it were because the media are not racist whereas lawmakers, the police and the judiciary are, it turns out they make their headlines according to their own notions rather than to an actual state of things. If the state of the society as far as crime is concerned is institutional (colorblind) racism, i.e. a New Jim Crow, and the media correct this because they go against the stream, then admittedly their headlines are no different from political pamphlets; therefore legislators are not bound to take their headlines as guidelines, any more than they are to follow the views of any scholar, intellectual, or writer.
The same holds with the media coverage of hate crime. Sen. Kennedy wants to legislate in a “timely” fashion, following the headlines. Given what has just been said, however, he is nothing but the willing audience of a hate crime law lobby, whereas the true situation might or might not support a need for new or further legislation. Obviously, if the coverage is a hoax (Wilfred Reilly), no legislation is called for by the timely headlines. (Needless to say, the notion of timely headlines is absurd: Reread the sentence and you’ll see Sen. Kennedy actually talks of timely headlines; however there is but one timely time for news headlines.)
“These despicable crimes”
Which crimes are not despicable? Crimes that a senator is more likely to commit, like embezzlement?
“Hate crimes are uniquely destructive and divisive, because their impact extends far beyond the victim.”
That the impact of all crimes “extends far beyond the victim” is on the contrary the obvious truth, one at the foundation of the secular distinction between tort law and criminal law, and hardly, therefore, could a premise be more unsupportive of the conclusion, namely, that hate crimes are unique.
“They poison entire communities and undermine the ideals for which America stands.”
One would swear other crimes are mere trifles.
“They deserve to be punished with the full force of the law.”
Yes, like any other crime. Actually, a good axiom of jurisprudence is that crimes deserve to be punished with the full force of the law. Accordingly, since every crime is punishable by the full force of the law, one cannot make a difference between one crime and the same crime “as a hate crime.”
If such a difference were legitimate, it would actually imply a decrease in penalties for hate crimes.
Hate crimes are crimes of passion,
therefore the penalty must be decreased, not increased
Here come the love crimes.
I had intended the word as a joke. I thought: If one talks of hate crimes, there must be love crimes too, which is absurd. Then I remembered the crimes of passion (crimes passionnels): “The ‘crime of passion’ defense challenges the mens rea element by suggesting that there was no malice aforethought, and instead the crime was committed in the ‘heat of passion’.” (Wikipedia: Crime of passion)
Crimes of passion are what I would like to call the love crimes. Love is a passion. Hate is no less a passion than love –sometimes love turns to hate– and therefore, as the crime of passion defense applies to love crimes, the defense applies to hate crimes too.
Think about Todd Mitchell, the black defendant in Wisconsin v. Mitchell who “instigated an attack against a white young boy.” He had just been watching the film Mississippi Burning, which stirred the rage of oppression in his heart, to the point he could not stand it anymore. His brothers and sisters in race had been enslaved, trafficked, segregated, Jim-Crowed for centuries. Hatred was stirred in him, his spirits cried for vengeance. A young white boy walked by.
Even if Mitchell had been animated by an ideology, by the liberal ideology that cannot stress enough the evils of a system and the burden of debt currently weighing upon the white man till the end of times, even if he had been an avid reader of liberal books, still his deed would not be an ideological crime –because there is no such thing under the U.S. Constitution, which protects freedom of conscience– but a crime of passion.
(Even the minutest premeditation in coldest blood could be a crime of passion, I find, because hate is a passion, just like the cheated husband who premeditates his wife’s death could invoke the defense in my eyes, because from love to despair time may elapse but the heat of passion remains, the heat of passion is not the same thing as the heat of the moment.)
But the Supreme Court –Rehnquist Court (surely this rings a little bell)– did not see a liberal black boy under the dramatic and melodramatic influence of a Hollywood blockbuster stuffed with the most advanced techniques of emotions and mind manipulation, no, and “the Wisconsin statute…was not punishing the defendant for his or her bigoted beliefs or statements, but rather the predicted ramifications of his or her crime” (oyez.org). Mark these words: A hate crime law does not punish a defendant for his or her bigoted beliefs or statements. I have no idea what the Court, or its commentator, means by “the predicted ramifications of the crime” and as I have not read the whole decision yet I reserve my judgment, only saying it looks like a mighty innovation in the field of criminal law and I’m surprised it is not more discussed in academia and among advocates of hate crime laws, who keep saying, instead, that hate crime laws punish bigoted biases (one also talks of bias crimes).
So very true is it that hate crimes are crimes of passion that it is even positive law in the gay panic defense. A man subject to homosexual advances may react violently with assault, battery, murder attempt, sometimes the seducer’s death. The defendant can invoke gay panic defense at his trial and if the motion is accepted his act will be treated as a crime of passion. As the reader can well imagine, statutes to that effect have disappeared from about every legal system in the western world, and now the same acts are likely to be treated as hate crimes with increased rather than decreased penalties. (Likely because how could such a reaction not be the sign of strong biases?)
Hate crimes are crimes of passion
and like other crimes of passion they have no place left amidst our laws
Today crimes of passion are hardly law any longer. A man finding his wife with another man will shoot them and then kill himself, and perhaps his kids in the bargain, because he knows society will not pardon him the heat of passion. He knows only cuckolders are excused nowadays.
As one, therefore, sees crime of passion laws dwindling, one must draw the consequences as to the notion itself, which includes hate crimes. Hate crimes can have no place amidst our laws.
Hate crime laws shift the tendency of regimes from majoritarian to countermajoritarian
In aristocratic regimes, the nobility is a minority too.
If one agrees the purpose of hate crime laws is not, contrary to appearances, or not only to hold the grudge of black people against whites for a past of slavery and unequal segregation in check, then one must consider the following reasoning.
Hate crime laws are designed to protect minorities from the violent manifestation of biases. That minorities would bear a natural grudge against the majority for the latter’s entrenched position and status does not seem to ever enter the mind of advocates of bias crime laws and I have never heard one such advocate express concern for the safety of individuals in the majority due to a grudge of this kind. Yet it occurs to me that, if I belonged to a minority and the majority had privileged status in the society, I would resent the fact. In case I expressed my resentment with violent acts, that would be hate crime then, would it not? But no, we are never told of such psychological problems; one has to know the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions to be aware that anti-white feelings can be a bias, and in some European countries you would look for the same kind of precedent as Wisconsin v. Mitchell in vain (but not because such crimes never happen).
All in all, one can safely bet that a risk of increased penalties exists above all for crimes where victims are from minorities. Therefore, if a criminal who is neither a hate criminal nor a love criminal, only an indifferent criminal who wants money, thinks –and I claim the media and politicians have inoculated this thinking in him– that he risks increased penalties if his victim belongs to a minority, then the obvious consequence is that he will avoid picking a victim among identifiable minorities and on the contrary target individuals from the majority. Hate crime laws point to the majority as self-evident victim for “passionless” criminals. Clearly, a government must have strong countermajoritarian mechanisms to be able to pass such laws – to the point that one wonders what role is left to its majoritarian mechanisms.
Hate crime laws are hate speech laws
This section is divided in two parts (a) and (b), the former being the mere quote of an earlier writing, Hate crime laws are unconstitutional (Law 20).
a/ Hate crime laws are unconstitutional view-based discrimination.
It’s time the courts declared hate crime laws unconstitutional. This is long overdue. How can hate speech be protected as the U.S. Supreme Court intends (Brandenburg v. Ohio , R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul , Snyder v. Phelps , Matal v. Tam ) when public figures known for taking positions some call hate speech must always fear being provoked to offenses, even minor, that would lead to aggravated punishment while the opponents who provoked the incidents have no such Damocles sword hanging over their heads?
Let’s take an example. If a public figure vilified by LGBT groups as a hater gets entangled in a brawl with LGBT hecklers, he may face hate crime charges while the others will face unruly behavior charges or such like (they are not known for being haters because they’re the ones who call people haters and the media follow that stance).
The “haters” (who have a constitutional right to hate speech) are at greater risk of frame-up because for them even the slightest charges can be greatly detrimental due to the increased penalties with which hate crimes are dealt with. Hate crime laws protect a minority heckler’s veto. Due to such legislation, whole classes of people are therefore deprived of their full rights to political participation for lack of equal protection under the law. This is government repression of political opponents.
b/ Hate crime laws are conceived as disguised hate speech laws.
Discretionary police and prosecution power serves to squelch speech in scores of contexts, by making pretextual use of laws against disorderly conduct, trespass, unlawful assembly, disobeying a lawful order (like orders to move or keep moving), breach of the peace, and other such low-level criminal statutes, and scholars point out the failure of courts to address the issue properly.
The issue must be of increased concern when to low-level incriminations may be added the hate crime label. Since there have been various cases of “petty larceny, as a hate crime,” one can well imagine charges such as “trespass, as a hate crime” or “disobeying a lawful order, as a hate crime.”
Often, in the usual cases, charges are dropped, and the victim of malicious policing is no more heard of. In the case of hate crimes there could be no dropping of the charges, for obvious reasons. Therefore, since police power can be used to squelch one’s speech and the courts have no sure means to second-guess the discretionary use of police power (filming police on public space is a hazy legal issue: don’t you fancy it be a well-established right), I believe advocates of hate crime laws intend to take advantage of the situation to have hate crime laws serve as hate speech laws. I believe it for the simple reason that if hate speech laws were not unconstitutional these are the laws they would demand. We have seen it in Europe: the same rhetoric used in the U.S. in support of hate crime laws is used in Europe to advocate hate speech laws.
So long as hate crime laws exist, the U.S. is at risk of becoming –if not being already, through the judicially undetected, pretextual use of executive discretion– a police state like current European Old-World regimes.