Lanterns: Should Savage Beating in Chicago Be A Hate Crime?


Should Savage Beating in Chicago Be A Hate Crime?

There's been a lot of banter on social media about "hate crimes" since the horrific beating of a mentally handicapped young man, at the hands of four teens in Chicago last evening. Someone streamed the savagery on Facebook Live, as if they believed that behavior was normal, not inhumane. With the "racist" moniker being hurled at white people, police officers, and anyone who may get in their way, this is causing a backlash.

I don't believe "hate crime" should be a category under the law -- a crime is a crime, regardless of motive. Hate may insinuate motivation, but, by itself, hatred is not against the law. Only at the point when hateful thought manifests into the physical, does it become a crime. No one can read another's mind, which is why thoughts of jealousy, envy, and passion, are not prosecutable, and why I advocate for the abolition of "hate crime" legislation. 

When someone is brutally murdered, there is an intrinsic element of hatred implied, but again, detestable thought is not against the law. Vile speech may very well be obnoxious and mean-spirited, but it's not against the law either. All speech is protected by our Constitution, and free speech is so important to our way of life that the Framers put it in the very first Amendment. 

The only purpose of hate crime legislation is to tack on additional penalties to a misdeed. When offenders are properly prosecuted and sentenced, further punishment is not warranted. If a person is murdered, they are dead, regardless of motive. The victim is not "any deader" if the perpetrator is a bigot. Because it's impossible to legislate morality, the laws imposing additional punishment for a motive are not constitutional. 

Many are calling the aforementioned beating incident a "hate crime" because the young man was white, the attackers were black, and someone was shouting, "F*** Trump!" and "F*** white people!" Certainly, these sentiments have not been unusual since Donald Trump's November Election win, and variations of the theme are coming from numerous and disparate corners, including many white people. I understand the angry response to the video. Although the act was obviously meant to offend, it should not be litigated as a "hate crime." I can't say for a fact that racism or bigotry was their motivation at the time of the attack, and neither can anyone else. It was barbaric, and there can be no possible rationale for such indecency. That's all we need to know. 

They should be charged and prosecuted to the full extent of the law, without resorting to unnecessary and unconstitutional maneuvers. The culprits must make restitution and know such behavior will not be tolerated, under any circumstance, in a civilized society. I hope to see the black leadership and Black Lives Matter reject, oppose, and condemn the actions of the perpetrators. Healing must begin, and if this is the catalyst, it will be a silver lining on what can only be called an atrocity. 

Rational people already know the suspects' behavior cannot be condoned. Laws and penalties are for the criminal act, not for the thought that may, or may not, be behind it. 

"Hate crime" prosecution is nothing more than window dressing, and we are better than that in the United States. Our system of law and justice is not perfect, but it's still the best in the world. There's no need to add fluff. 

Written by Julie Custer

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