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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Racist on Racist Violence: A New Twist on an Old Idea...

I found a remarkable article under the headline "Anti-Supremacists Tied to Restaurant Beatings" (written by Joe Barrett of the WSJ).

The article begins: "Authorities in a Chicago suburb are trying to identify as many as 13 of the 18 people linked to an anti-racist organization who allegedly burst into a restaurant Saturday and beat with batons and hammers a group of diners they believed to be white supremacists."

Hate crime law, see this for more details, typically has language like this from HR 1913:

Adopts the definition of "hate crime" as set forth in the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (i.e., a crime in which the defendant intentionally selects a victim, or in the case of a property crime, the property that is the object of the crime, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person...

So here we have "anti-white-supremacists" physically attacking "white supremacists."  The fact that "white" is used to define the victims involved means the attacks were racially motivated.

Is this a hate crime?

Surely the beatings in and of themselves constitute crimes.  And while one can view these attacks through the lens of "hate crimes" its seems to me that, fundamentally, these are also simple everyday crimes, e.g., felony assault, conspiracy, and so on.

Bursting into a restaurant with a dozen of your like-minded friends with hammers and clubs to employ a beat down on people you don't like is a crime any way you look at it.  Clearly in this case it would have to be premeditated as well (otherwise how would they all know to show up at the same time?)

One imagines seeing this, er, well, one doesn't have to imagine, on the Soprano's, for example.

Aren't both the victims and the criminals in this case racists?

There is a significant danger here of "irony poisoning." 

One always envisions "racists" as jack-booted, shaven-headed thugs armed with black jacks beating on poor defenseless members of some hated group (be it by race, sexual persuasion, etc.) for no reason other than they dislike the color of their victim's skin or sexual persuasion.

Yet here are those who supposedly despise racism (and presumably the actions of those who practice it) acting exactly as those they presume to despise.

One also imagines, since there was no reported "return fire," that the diners were in fact "defenseless" - at least at the time of the attack.

My mother and grandfather occasionally told stories of the mafia in the small Midwestern town where they lived that were quite similar (this was during the time of Prohibition).

So this kind of human behavior is not new.

The Constitution affords racists and anti-racists alike the freedom of speech and thought.

Hate crime legislation targets those taking specific actions to harm others based on race.

Hate crime legislation also, by its very nature, separates and identifies implicitly those who would be viewed as practitioners of such hateful acts as separate from society, i.e., as a minority in a society which as a whole does not engage in such acts.

So now we have anti-racists using this distinction to violently target and attack presumed members of this new hate-crime-law defined minority demonstrating that hate crime laws in fact create new "minorities" which can be targeted by new types of hate crimes.

Its almost as if society is losing site of what a crime is and turning more and more toward the "thought" that was involved in the crime.

Sadly, like most modern things, no one has thought through the consequences of "hate crime" law (see this).  For example, am I targeting women if I mug them because I think they are women or because I think that they will put up less of a fight?

Until seeing this particularly article I had never imagined a scenario where "anti-racists" would violently and premeditatedly attack defenseless "racists."

Perhaps if the government prosecuted crime in general more effectively none of this would be necessary: crimes like premeditated beating of anyone would be crimes plain and simple.

Will government need to pass new laws to prevent "racist on racist" violence?

I hope not.

If you want crime to stop, racially motivated crime or otherwise, there has to be justice.

A slap on the wrist and probation because the jails are full and prosecutors overworked merely adds to the problem.

Sadly, there also needs to be a better sense of morality.

In this case the "anti-racists" seem to lack the concept of morality, i.e., their intended victims share the fact with the racists intended victims that they are both victims - victims of crime.

If "anti-racists" don't see their actions are hypocritical or wrong our society has taken a very wrong turn.

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