Hate is Not a Crime

You have probably seen some of the recent TV ads, usually sponsored by some obscure liberal group, preaching against the evils of “hate.” Most feature some spokesperson, often an actor or actress, making an emotional appeal based on the premise that hate is inherently evil, and must be eliminated. Sounds reasonable, at least at first. But is hate, ALL hate, necessarily a bad thing? After all, I’ve met few people who don’t genuinely hate child molesters, rapists, and crack dealers, and I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t hate Adolph Hitler.

What is even more interesting about liberals lamenting “hate” as a bad thing is how easily they themselves can express the most vile hatred of people who are guilty of nothing more than disagreeing with liberals. They hate corporate CEOs. They hate Republicans. They most certainly hate George Bush. Just ask them. They even hate Sarah Palin, a woman who, regardless of whether or not you agree with her politics, has never exhibited anything close to the kind of venom that has been directed at her.

Note how often it’s almost impossible to have a discussion on politics with a liberal without their conversation eventually devolving into near hysterical invective, culminating in a declaration of how much they “hate” this or that conservative, if not all conservatives. Think that’s hyperbole? Here’s a simple test. Try asking a liberal, “so, what do think of …..(fill in the blank – Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, or, here in Minnesota, Michelle Bachmann)?” Their temples will throb, their face will become flushed, and the vitriol will flow like Niagara Falls. Their hatred will be almost palpable.

The larger issue is the danger of putting too much focus on an emotion like hate, rather than confronting the real problem plaguing society: violence. Because, in reality, I don’t care one whit whether you hate me or not. Nor why you hate me – my race, age, sex, whatever. You have every right to hate anything, or anybody, that you wish. In fact, never hating anyone, not even the aforementioned child molester, may well be a sign of an unhealthy mental condition. After all, we all have had moments of frustration when we feel anger, hostility, and yes, hatred, toward someone over one thing or another.

But it is what someone does, not what they feel, that matters. Most of us do not cross that line – we do not turn our violent emotions into violent action. And it is violent action that is criminal, not the emotion that lead to it. Hatred may be the motive, but it is not the crime. And the danger of attempting to make emotion a crime is far greater than might be perceived at first. For if we can add an extra year in prison to the sentence of someone convicted of assault, how long before we apply that same year of imprisonment to someone who merely wanted to assault someone, but changed his mind at the last minute. After all, if we declare hatred itself to be a crime, then what is stopping us from punishing it?

Another problem with “hate crimes” is that it sets up a hierarchy of human beings, some being officially defined as more (or less) worthy of legal protections than others. This is no different from Hitler’s declaration that blond, blue eyed, “Aryan” peoples were “superior” to those who did not share their genetic qualities. Yet while the average liberal will boil over with (dare I say “hatred”) for any of the various white supremacist groups, they have no problem whatsoever engaging in the very same ethnic categorizing that the Aryan Brotherhood does.

There is an old legal axiom that the law is “reason free from emotion” – but when emotion actually becomes the law, we are in dire straits indeed…

John Caile