«

»

That slippery slope is going to be quite a ride.

A friend noted that one of our local television stations had prematurely labeled church vandalism (Nazi-esque, pro-Donald Trump graffiti spray-painted on the exterior) in a southern Indiana county last February as a “hate crime”, prior to discovering that, in fact, the church organist vandalized the building as a protest against Donald Trump.

Talk about egg on their face.  But, nah, let’s talk about “hate crimes” instead.

On some level, all crimes are potentially hate crimes. Designating certain types of crimes as official hate crimes under law is an exercise in legislative opinion (and as a primarily-political opinion, it makes for bad law). It’s all well and good to fix in law that vandalism of a religious property is a hate crime, to be prosecuted with special attention to the mental state of the perpetrator; but once you have designated one thing as a hate crime, you’ve got a foot stuck in the door to eventually broadening the definition of a hate crime. And we’re already headed down that slippery slope, with “thoughtcrime” already being sanctioned, however unofficially, by the media and by various Internet services like Facebook and Twitter.

And you thought 1984 was just a book.  “Two-Minutes Hate,” anyone?

I, for one, strongly believe that tearing down Confederate memorials is a hate crime. Not because I hold any brief for slavery, or for the rebels and their ill-conceived secession and the war it engendered, but because to destroy or remove these monuments destroys our national history out of no emotion other than hatred for that history. As an historian, I strongly believe that we MUST embrace our history honestly, warts and all, and not try to erase the “uncomfortable” parts just to make ourselves feel better.

On the other hand, there are people out there who believe the opinion I just expressed is itself a hate crime. The next thing we know, it may become a hate crime to express opinions that are out of the mainstream.*  If you think that’s impossible, don’t think the First Amendment will protect us from that; remember, the Second Amendment is very clear that the right to bear arms is not to be infringed, yet there exists a multitude of local, state, and federal laws that significantly infringe the right. Legislators can always find a way to get around the Bill of Rights, and with the right (meaning the left) judges in place, they can take away God-given rights we have long thought inviolable.

Don’t be so quick to label anything as a hate crime. Or at least, wait until the investigation is complete and the facts of the case have been made public. Remember that a lie can make it around the world twice while the truth is still lacing up its boots.

_________________________

* Oh, wait — as I pointed out, it already is, on Facebook and Twitter.