Thought Crime

Dylann Roof has been convicted of 33 hate crimes.  From the Washington Post:

After nearly a week of painful testimony that vividly re-created the massacre at this city’s famed Mother Emanuel church, it took jurors about two hours Thursday to convict Dylann Roof in his federal hate crimes trial.

Oh, and yes, Roof’s hate crimes were first degree, cold-blooded murder.  But the Federal Department of Justice just had to get it’s paws on a certified white racist who took his racism to the extreme.  33 hate crimes.  Wow.

Look, make no mistake.  Dylann Roof is a monster, a murderer, and should be put down like the mad dog he is.  But not for what he might have thought about his victims.

My problem with “hate crime” is that the term is merely another way of saying “thought crime.”

In today’s world, there are many instances of what Orwell labeled “thoughtcrime,” considered (per Google) “an instance of unorthodox or controversial thinking, considered as a criminal offense or as socially unacceptable.” The obvious problem is, once we embark on punishing “hate crimes” differently than crimes, at what point do we stop?  Slippery slope, seems to me.

Yes, many of us imperfect humans harbor hateful thoughts about members of certain groups. But do we not have the right to think what we may?

If thoughts become actions, and those actions are crimes, yes, by all means, bring the offenders to justice. Dylann Roof’s crimes have for certain earned him the death penalty. Should he be tortured first before he is killed if he is also convicted of a “hate crime?” Can’t kill him twice, you know.

Let the punishment for the crime not be harsher for one who has bad thoughts about his victim. To have different scales of justice for those who harbor hateful thoughts would seem to violate both our freedom of speech and the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

 

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