The very concept of “hate crimes” is stupid. It seems to me that most crimes are commited because of “hate”. If a man finds his wife in bed with another man and shoots them, I’m pretty sure he hates them when he does it. If a starving woman steals a diamond necklace from an heiress, she’s being driven by envy, which has a pretty good component of hate in it. Usually, drug addicts are trying to drown some sort of psychological pain caused by *someone* in their lives, and therefore they probably hate that person.
OK, so in the past, there were plenty of injustices done to African Americans, and the “hate crimes” concept was instituted to let the federal government step in when local governments refused to act. But they could have come up with a better, and more constitutional, way of going about it.
If you’re going to talk about “hate crimes,” it ought to work both ways, but it doesn’t. “Hate crimes” theory creates a new kind of “class warfare,” since the only people who can be victims of “hate crimes” are so-called “protected classes.” If you’re not in a protected class, anyone can say any hateful thing they want to.
So Don Imus (noting that I think the man is loathesome) uses the term “nappy haired” (whatever that means). That is considered “hate” speech, but the many hateful things said about him in response were “OK.”
My wife cries at night from her African American students calling her names like “honkey” and “hillbilly,” but that’s perfectly acceptable in our culture. She writes them up, and nothing happens to them.
It is impossible to have a concept of “hate speech” that is in keeping with the First Amendment. The whole purpose of the First Amendment was to allow people to express opinions that might be “politically incorrect” for the health of society. Obviously, the American system works because, despite rhetoric on boths sides of the aisle, we have never been taken over by Fascists or Communists.
“Hate speech”, and “hate crimes”, by extension, are really about trying people for their ideas, and specifically for their disagreement with the ideas of the constituents of the party in power, which is the very thing the First Amendment was meant to protect. Yet the people who say that the First Amendment protects pornography are the same ones who want to gut its political intent.
Granted, neoconservatives do the same thing: if you criticize President Bush or his wars, you are labelled “anti-American.” (Now, a great many of the war’s critics really are anti-American, but that doesn’t mean they all are).
If you say, “abortion is wrong,” or “homosexuality is a disorder,” or “Why are we giving Israel privileged treatment compared to other third world nations,” that is called “hate speach.” Yet liberals say they want to kill the president, and that’s OK.
In The Abolition of Man (if you haven’t read it, read it now), C. S. Lewis discusses an English textbook he’s been asked to review. He gives it the pseudonym The Green Book, and talks about how the book twists the concept of description. According to The Green Book, any emotional or aesthetic description says more about the speaker than the thing described.
“This is such a peaceful place” = “I feel peaceful.”
“That woman is sexy” = “I want to have sex with her.”
“You are being hostile” = “I feel hostile towards you.”
Now, Lewis uses this textbook–which he says is typical of the textbooks of his day–as a launch pad for a discussion of subjectivism, human nature, the soul, Natural Law and the dangers of the Twentieth Century.
But what for Lewis was dangerous innovation has become, for our era, an ingrainted way of thought, especially for secular humanists.
So, when conservatives hear of “hate speech,” we’re puzzled. We think that we’re making an objective description of some behavior, or an intellectual criticism of an idea. But liberals have been raised in the theory of The Green Book, such that any purported objective statement is a mask for the speaker’s hidden feelings.
So, when a liberal hears one of his or her sacred cows criticized, however intellectually and rationally, that is extracted to “He criticized my idea” = “He doesn’t like my idea” = “He hates me.”
At the same time, “hate speech” is defined as hatred meant to humiliate or incite violence. One of the intellectual jumps that puzzles conservatism is when a statement like the following is labelled “hate speech”:
The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 2358).
The answer, from a Green Book perspective, is simple: reading statements like this makes liberals angry. It makes them want to do violence on conservatives. Therefore, they interpret the statement as inciting violence.