George Orwell’s satirical masterpiece Animal Farm ends with the haunting words,
“All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others”.
More than 70 years later, we find ourselves in just such a world today.
Put aside all that raw emotion, the anguish, the incredulity and anger regarding the recent shooting in Orlando and think very, very differently for a moment:
The concept of “hate crimes” is completely nonsensical.
Naturally our hearts go out to the massive loss of life that happened almost a week ago in Orlando. We all know that story intimately as if we were there: Omar Mateen entered a LGBT nightclub called Pulse and opens fire with an AR-15. Hours later, there are 100 casualties, including 49 dead. Stories of heroism abound.
Politicians and pundits flooded the web with proclamations of “Domestic terrorism” and “Attacks by ISIL”. But the overwhelming opinion and declaration from the POTUS as well as both Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump was, “This was an act of hate, a clear hate crime against the LGBT community”.
And then, in a classic Orwellian twist of irony, evidence surfaced that Omar frequented the club and in fact may have been a closeted Gay man himself.
Well. That’s an interesting fact. Especially because this particular revelation, if true, has one special implication:
The criminal acts committed by the Orlando shooter can no longer be considered a hate crime, because by FBI definition, hate crimes are, “traditional offenses like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias.” And by that definition, what bias can Omar have against one of his own?
If this is so, what we have is an act of domestic terrorism, (and perhaps charges against Omar’s second wife), but we no longer have an example of a hate crime against a protected community.
Which makes me earnestly wonder…
Murder is murder and rape is rape, irrespective of what category of human is victimized.
If a hate crime must be against a protected community, are non-LGBT humans worth less than the LGBT community? Suppose Mateen had survived and was now in custody. Is hate against LGBT the only hate crime we could have leveled against Mateen? Were all the victims, both fatalities and wounded, gay? Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, who died protecting her son, wasn’t gay. Should we charge Omar with a hate crime against women? One officer was shot near the eye but spared by his Kevlar helmet. If this was in Louisiana, Mateen could have been charged with a hate crime against police officers, who are a protected group in that state. Suppose Mateen was white, and he had attacked an affluent, rich all-white golf social club. Would that have been considered a hate crime? What is the litmus test for being considered gay or lesbian? Does one have to prove they are gay or lesbian in order to meet the test of “protected status”?
No, in fact one only has to say they are gay or lesbian and a perpetrator is now guilty of a hate crime, with all its enhanced penalties and social stigma. Someone could lie just to get stiffer penalties for a defendant.
Do you see the chaos this is creating?
The reality is, hate crime statutes create classism. Crimes against ordinary, non-protected classes are somehow less heinous than those perpetrated against protected ones. Murder is murder and rape is rape, irrespective of what category of human is victimized. Shoot a child?–horrible, they say. Shoot a child who also happens to be of a certain protected class? –infinitely worse.
It is not worse. Crimes against humans are crimes against humans.
It doesn’t matter what group you belong to. You may not realize it, but African Americans are charged with hate crimes against other races all the time. Crime is crime as defined statutorily, by the laws on the books. It is not “more wrong” if it’s against a certain class of people.
The only true hate crime is any crime against any other human.
African Americans that are shot on the streets of Chicago over Memorial Day weekend ought to garnish the same condemnation as victims of the illegal Slavery trade that still happens in modern times. We ought to deeply mourn the victims in Orlando because we lost members of the human family, not just because of their sexual orientation.
When we have one singular statutory hate crime, that which is against all humans everywhere, then all people no matter who they are or identify as will have equal justice and equal media coverage.
What do you think? Join the conversation in the comments below.