Saturday September 16, 2017
Eleven years ago, this essay argued against hate-crime laws. One argument read “People can eventually be accused of hate crimes when they use hateful speech. Hate crimes laws are a seed that can sprout in new directions.” This has now come to pass, I am sorry to say. This week, the Congress passed S. J. Res. 49, and President Trump signed it, making it part of the U.S. legal code.
The law rejects “White nationalists, White supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and other hate groups…” But why? Because of their ideas? Because of their expression of these ideas? No government that stands for freedom and free speech, whose charge is to protect rights, should be singling out specific groups by name and by law declaring them as outlaws or threats because of their philosophies. If they have committed a crime, such as defamation of character or incitement to riot or riot itself, then charge them and try them. But American government has no legitimate authority to single out some of its citizens in this way. This, furthermore, is an exceedingly bad precedent. Who’s next?