'Hate Speech' Laws Are Just Another Way For Governments To Punish People They Don't Like

from the adding-more-tiers-to-the-'equitable'-justice-system dept

Two recent legislative efforts have been mounted to add police to the rolls of "disadvantaged" citizens in need of the additional shelter of "hate crime" laws. Hate crime laws are immediately problematic. They add additional punishments to criminal acts already punishable under existing laws. It's exactly the sort of thing justice isn't meant to be: vindictive. A murder is a murder, whether or not it was propelled by someone's underlying biases. A threat is a threat, no matter the threatener's personal views on race, marriage or human sexuality. Adding additional punishments solely because of a perceived motive serves no purpose other than to make those who support these laws feel like past racial/sexual wrongs are slowly being righted. The sinners of the present pay for the sins of the past sinners.

Adding police officers to this mix is not just stupid and completely antithetical to the underlying rationale of "hate crime" laws. It's also incredibly dangerous. Elizabeth Nolan Brown of Reason takes a look at how hate crime laws are being deployed in other countries. What she's found is that hate crime laws are like any other: they're abused most frequently by those in power and deployed inconsistently to further governments' aims.

The agency tasked with prosecuting hate speech in Kenya is called the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC); it was formed in 2008 to address ethnic conflicts in the nation. Onyando asserts that NCIC has ignored the bulk of complaints it has received and acts "more like an arm of the ruling coalition" than an independent agency, honing in only on those who speak out against the Jubilee Alliance, a coalition established in 2013 to support the candidacy of current President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto.
In this case, the government only cares about hate speech when it's on the receiving end of the hate. But this selective enforcement isn't limited to non-Western governments with a history of corruption. It's also happening in Europe.
Because "hate speech" is not narrowly defined, it's up to those in power to decide what qualifies as hate and what doesn't, and often that depends very much on both whom the speaker is and the sympathies of those in power. France has been accused of treating anti-Semitic sentiment with kid gloves while ignoring anti-Muslim expression. In the U.K., a British teenager was arrested after criticizing British military actions in Afghanistan.
So, selective enforcement should work out great when it's cops who are targeted. Threats against law enforcement officers will be treated as exceptional crimes, even though they're facially indistinguishable from threats made against non-uniformed individuals or groups.

The government in general is supportive of law enforcement, even when agencies' track records indicate this trust is unearned. The selective application of hate crime/hate speech laws will almost always favor this particular "protected" group. "Hate crime/speech" sentence enhancements will be piled on top of existing sentence enhancements pertaining to the assault of government employees. Fines and bail amounts will increase dramatically.
In San Francisco, for instance, leaders recently condemned graffiti saying "No More Chinese" as hate speech. The suspected spray painter was charged with 13 crimes, including felony vandalism with a felony hate crime enhancement. "We're exposing a man to somewhere around six years of jail time for spray painting," said public defender Yali Corea-Levy. And while bail for felony vandalism is normally set around $25,000, the suspect's bail awas set at $155,000. Similar outrage has not been summoned in San Fran for street art advocating the killing of hipsters or urging "techie scum" to die.
Our own government has already indicated a willingness to punish speech that "attacks" the home team. It won't take much to persuade it to use its power against those who take aim -- verbally or physically -- at law enforcement professionals. These new rights won't be equally granted. They will be used almost exclusively to ensure groups with considerable amounts of power and protection are given just a little more.


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  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 28 Oct 2015 @ 5:04am

    This is great news!

    Think of all the silver linings this bestows:
    -Fox News gets shut down

    -Facebook goes away

    -Comments online disappear

    -The human race is forced to shuts its damn mout

    I'm looking forward to this peaceful outcome by the government.


    For those who may have missed it, this is sarcasm.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2015 @ 7:29am

      Re:

      Any Legislation we deem to have hateful speech, The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), All of the wording contained within is pretty hateful in my book .

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2015 @ 8:10am

        Re: Re:

        It's only a crime if it's done by the common class about/to the ruling class.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          tqk (profile), 29 Oct 2015 @ 1:33pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          It's only a crime if it's done by the common class about/to the ruling class.

          "Your gov't" is not really *your* gov't. It apparently never really has been. It did try for a while, but has long since given that up as unworkable.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2015 @ 6:37am

    Weak argument

    Laws Are Just Another Way For Governments To Punish People They Don't Like

    You could use the above headline and make the same exact arguments.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2015 @ 8:58am

      Re: Weak argument

      Yes, you are correct but still a valid argument.

      The very idea of all it all is for people to remain vigilant which is completely not happening.

      All laws are nothing more than people with power establishing what they do not like, this will never be different at any other time or any other place.

      You can concoct all manor of blame or excuses like "separation of church and state" to try to block something you don't like in a law... but the reality is this. If enough people in power want you marginalized or marching to their orders... you either march or you fight back.

      The idea that all religion is bad only creates a cover for the real evil... humanity and it contrived institutions... some do manage to do some good, but when they become trusted... that is moment corruption has become its core and it will be slowly eaten away. Hate Speech is the same... an idea of corruption that breeds and props corruption up. A construct of sheep that live in fear and weakness.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2015 @ 1:46pm

      Re: Weak argument

      This is factually incorrect.

      Before we had laws and separation of powers, governments were absolutely free to destroy any citizen they disliked.

      Laws are a way to -PREVENT- the government from simply punishing who they dislike, specifically defining what kinds of behaviors are punishable, and guaranteeing that everything not listed is ok.

      Vaguely worded, subjective, overly broad laws, are a way for governments to punish people they don't like.
      It's why we oppose them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous, 28 Oct 2015 @ 6:37am

    sorry, but no

    Yes, adding police to the umbrella of hate crime is problematic.

    But hate crime laws speak to motive.
    If you beat someone up because you don't like their hat, that's a lesser offense than beating someone up because you don't like the color of their skin.

    Just like punishment for homicide hinges on motive.
    Will you argue that a traffic death should be adjudicated no differently than a serial killer?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2015 @ 6:48am

      Re: sorry, but no

      >hate crime laws speak to motive
      I think we need to make a clear distinction between hate crimes and hate speech. The former is of course, illegal. The latter is protected by the First Amendment. A lot of hot air gets blown unproductively conflating the two.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        ChrisB (profile), 28 Oct 2015 @ 11:35am

        Re: Re: sorry, but no

        Hate crimes are simply normal crimes with hate speech thrown in. For example, assaulting someone vs. assaulting someone while yelling "I hate whites". Should be the same punishment.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Scott, 29 Oct 2015 @ 7:55am

        Re: Re: sorry, but no

        Hate speech is a slippery slope that can easily surpass the freedom of speech. You aren't free to say anything and everything you want and throw the blank of "the 1st amendment" over your head when someone has an issue with what you said. The 1st amendment provides for specific instances, outside those instances you don't have the right to open your mouth and say whatever you want too. That is not how the 1st amendment works. Learn how "your rights" actually work before you're the next dumb ass dying for a "right" you never had.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2015 @ 6:52am

      Re: sorry, but no

      That's not how it works in practice, the prosecutor will try and get the biggest sentence they can adding hate crimes if they can.

      To use your example if I beat up a person of a different ethnicity from myself because I dislike their hat I'm likely to incur hate crime laws despite my crime being hat motivated. Then it's just a case of painting me as a filthy racist and giving me double or triple jail time.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2015 @ 6:57am

      Re: sorry, but no

      I think you are confusing motive with intent (mens rea).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2015 @ 7:28am

      Re: sorry, but no

      Will you argue that a traffic death should be adjudicated no differently than a serial killer?

      YES
      if I kill someone with my car,
      it should not matter if I was texting, calling, under the influence of legal or ilegal drugs, happy, sad, tired, disappointed, offended, scared, late for an important government meeting, wearing a badge, a hat,an uniform, naked, wearing a tuxedo, wearing an expensive/cheap car, carrying a bat/gun, my credit ratings, my government happy face points

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2015 @ 1:09pm

        Re: Re: sorry, but no

        "Will you argue that a traffic death should be adjudicated no differently than a serial killer?"

        Yes, if the person was killed with an "assault vehicle" with a "hollow point" grill and a large capacity magazine.

        Thousands of people get away with *murder* every year, because they commit it with a *car* instead of a *gun*.

        It's high time we start a federal registry for car sales (with a 3 day waiting period) to snuff out the "car show" loophole.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2015 @ 8:48am

      Re: sorry, but no

      Hate crime laws have no place in modern society. If someone with malice and forethought kills someone, they have murdered. If someone isn't paying attention and runs down a pedestrian with their car, they have committed manslaughter.

      If I killed you because you had on a Houston Texans hat, would you be any less dead than if I killed you because you were purple?

      Finally, they cause division. Anyone left out of the hate crime laws will start screaming that crimes against them aren't as important as crimes against whatever group the hate crime covers. It causes societal tension.

      I'm not saying hate crime laws come with bad intent. I'm saying they don't really address the core issue and there is no way to fairly apply them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2015 @ 8:57am

      Re: sorry, but no

      ...a traffic death should be adjudicated no differently than a serial killer?...

      Depends on how you get charged. The punishment for homicide does depend on motive, which is reflected in what charge the prosecution brings. In my area:

      1st Degree Murder = prosecution must prove you planned this or intended to do it. In my area this is the only charge that can get the death penalty.

      2nd Degree Murder = not planned but rather a 'spur of the moment' thing.

      Manslaughter = not planned but a malicious or negligent action that resulted in a death.

      Involuntary Manslaughter = you did not intend to cause a death but you could not avoid it either.

      Vehicular Manslaughter = operation of an automobile caused a death, usually due to maliciousness or negligence.

      AFAIK there is no such thing as 'Involuntary Vehicular Manslaughter', and 3rd Degree Murder (emotionally charged circumstances) was removed from the books years ago.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2015 @ 5:01pm

        Re: Re: sorry, but no

        I liked that 3rd degree murder. I noticed Germany is rewriting its laws that are based on the person so they are based on the act itself.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Kenneth Lipp, 28 Oct 2015 @ 7:22pm

      Re: sorry, but no

      I think you're confusing motive with intent.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Richard (profile), 29 Oct 2015 @ 7:03am

      Re: sorry, but no

      <>Will you argue that a traffic death should be adjudicated no differently than a serial killer?

      If the traffic death was the result of a deliberate attempt to run someone over then yes - of course.

      The key here is the word deliberate - which applies to all serial killers and ver few traffic deaths. Motive is not the issue

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    tom (profile), 28 Oct 2015 @ 7:03am

    The irony here is the 1st amendment was designed to protect anti-government and anti-establishment speech.

    And it shouldn't matter why someone gets beat up. The punishment should be the same. The victim is just as beat up regardless of if the criminal didn't like the color of a victim's hat or victim's skin.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2015 @ 7:08am

      Re:

      I never understood the whole hate crime thing either. Its just one of those laws passed to calm the 'ethnic' groups from rebelling too much.

      Don't worry blacks, we've passed laws to protect you, now you can go back to living in poverty and unequal opportunity.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 29 Oct 2015 @ 3:32am

        Re: Re:

        It is an attempt to legislate morality and as Kennedy said, you can't. Mean people are mean and putting limits on the words they can use or the symbols they are allowed to display in public will NOT make that go away.

        You can't solve an "inside" problem from the outside, people.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          aglynn (profile), 29 Oct 2015 @ 7:05am

          Re: Re: Re:

          In the event you live in the U.S., do you realize there are still "sundown towns" in states like the Carolinas, where if you happen to be black you'd better get out of town by dark or face physical violence? Should people be allowed to promote or defend that? The problem in this situation is not hate laws as such but their application to protect people least in need of such protection, the people who are themselves the #1 perpetrators of hate crime and the #1 protectors of other perpetrators, i.e. the police.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            John Fenderson (profile), 29 Oct 2015 @ 7:51am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "Should people be allowed to promote or defend that?"

            As awful as it is, yes, people should be allowed to promote or defend it. Expressing your opinion should never be against the law, no matter how objectionable that opinion is.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2015 @ 7:15am

    There's already laws to protect cops more then ordinary citizens

    The most ironic part about this stupid push is that there's already laws on the books that give tougher penalties for harming/killing/attempting to kill a cop then doing the same thing to an ordinary person.

    If you've ever watched political ads at election time you'll see that politicians often attack each other for not supporting those laws. I've seen so many ads saying "[name] voted against tougher penalties for cop killers".

    Bottom line, there's no need to pretend it's a hate crime to attack a cop, that just opens up pro-police groups/politicians to public mockery for supporting such laws.

    That being said, hate crime laws are still actually needed to protect actual persecuted groups. And despite misinformation about it, hate crime laws DO apply to majority groups like whites, Christians, and men, as long as you can prove a racist like hatred for such groups motivated the criminal to commit the crime.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      aglynn (profile), 29 Oct 2015 @ 7:08am

      Re: There's already laws to protect cops more then ordinary citizens

      Given that you are entirely correct that hate crime laws do apply to majority groups, one has to ask why people like E.O. Wilson, Richard Dawkins etc. are not charged with hate crime? Of course the answer is that, like the police, they are on the side of the privileged, the wealthy and the powerful.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2015 @ 7:30am

    Police Hate Crimes Task Force - coming to a city near you!

    In cities like New York, things like plain old grafitti (even the kind that easily washes off) can easily get elevated from misdemeanor vandalism to hate crime status. The NYPD even has a dedicated division, the Hate Crimes Task Force, to investigate things like whenever some 13 year old boy chalks a swastica on the sidewalk in front of a jewish synagogue for the amusement of seeing his "crime" get reported in the press. And of course the controversial Church of Scientology has used hate crime statutes against protesters (many of them ex-'church' members) to an unbelievable extent, hiring its own lawyers to pressure city police and prosecutors to arrest and charge protesters to the most extreme degree possible for the slightest lapses of good judgement or behavior.

    Whenever the police in any city need a dedicated division that mainly investigates rude behavior, empty threats and petty vandalism -- while neglecting far more serious crimes -- it's a sure bet that the "hate crimes" will be defined as those thoughts and insults against the very people with the most political power.

    The elevation of the police to protected "victim" status and recipient of Hate Crimes benefits should not come as a surprise. Not unlike the libel laws in many countries, the Hate Crime provides a vehicle for the wealthy, well organized and politically powerful to suppress speech that's critical of them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2015 @ 7:32am

    I didn't say those things out of hate , I said them because the bible.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2015 @ 8:00am

      Re:

      Ah, the bible haters come out.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Moonkey, 28 Oct 2015 @ 9:10am

        Re: Re:

        Less bible hate, more hate towards people who use the bible to justify any amount of illogical hatred towards another person.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2015 @ 9:49am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Oh, so hate the Christian and not the bible. Of course atheists never justify their evil feeds.

          Did you know Stalin and Hitler were Darwinists? Seems when evolutionists go to killing they are quite efficient at it. Should wet hate evolutionists?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2015 @ 8:01am

    Here is a thought

    How about protecting everyone against hate crime?

    Governments tend to be the worst discriminators. Try practicing what you preach. But common sense doesn't get votes, does it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2015 @ 8:27am

      Re: Here is a thought

      Pretty much every demographic is already covered by hate crime laws except LGBT people for being LGBT (though some state hate crime laws do cover them).

      Majority groups like whites, Christians, men are all covered already under hate crime laws. While hate crime prosecutions for victimizing those groups are much rarer, they do happen. I think the FBI or some other government agency keeps track of such hate crimes & hate crime prosecutions.

      There's no such thing (until now) as hate crime laws that protect people with specific jobs.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2015 @ 10:34am

        Re: Re: Here is a thought

        Well, at the federal level there's the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2015 @ 10:43am

        Re: Re: Here is a thought

        Saying that 'Majority groups like whites, Christians, men are all covered already under hate crime laws' instead of 'race, religion, and gender' is disingenuous in the extreme. It's a good phrase as a soundbite on TV, but really isn't fit for use in an actual discussion.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Richard (profile), 29 Oct 2015 @ 7:13am

          Re: Re: Re: Here is a thought

          'Majority groups like whites, Christians, men

          None of those are actually majorities.

          Most people in the world are non-white. Women outnumber men and Christians are < 1/3 of the world population.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2015 @ 8:15am

    Look at the bright side, at least they can't occupy our homes yet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2015 @ 1:39am

      Re:

      But the police have been caught illegaly doing that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2015 @ 1:41am

        Re: Re:

        an addendum to that, When I say illegally. I mean under the constitution. The police did not care they were breaking a law and did not bother to charge the officers that did it. IN fact if I recall they threatened to homeowners with prison time if they pursued it. since it would be exposing an active investigation.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 28 Oct 2015 @ 6:59pm

    These laws are just another club that they can use to bully people into taking a plea bargain. After all, they have to stack the deck against defendants as much as possible...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2015 @ 1:28am

    Look at Spain's protecting their police by issuing heavy fines against anyone that criticizes their goose stepping brigade.

    The world slides towards tyranny, dictatorship and outright rebellion once more.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    aglynn (profile), 29 Oct 2015 @ 6:59am

    Hate Crime Laws

    Hate crime laws are meant to protect those still on the wrong side of violent systemic discrimination. For that purpose they are valid. Police officers are not on the wrong side of violent systemic discrimination, in fact they are one of the main perpetrators of it. Applying a law in a situation where it's radically inapplicable is a massive misuse of that law, but doesn't invalidate the law when used as intended.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Richard (profile), 29 Oct 2015 @ 7:07am

      Re: Hate Crime Laws

      Hate crime laws are meant to protect those still on the wrong side of violent systemic discrimination. For that purpose they are valid.

      No they are not. Ordinary laws, properly applied, will do that just fine. Hate crime laws simply give an unfair advantage to those who, whilst nominally belonging to the disadvantaged group, are in fact wealthy and powerful.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2015 @ 12:16am

      Re: Hate Crime Laws

      Oh no. Not another university parrot whining about intersectional privilege and systemic microaggressions.

      There should be some kind of filter that picks up these words and tags the commenter as an SJW troll.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Richard (profile), 29 Oct 2015 @ 7:04am

    hate crime

    As opposed to one of those "I really like you" murders.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    tqk (profile), 29 Oct 2015 @ 1:19pm

    "... techie scum to die."

    I'm a tech. I have always wanted "techie scum" to die. I've long tired of cleaning up their messes. If it's not going to be done right, don't do it, and if it's not broken, don't fix it! "Great, you're an engineer. Just don't touch anything!" There are "Sun Certified" engineers out there who can't list the contents of a directory! Aka, techie scum.

    I hope that's offended enough people, but I'm sure I could improve it if I were begged. Throwing money might help.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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