Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Better Approach than Thought-Policing

Thanks to Joe.My.God. who revealed an e-mail about why the vandals who destroyed the Long Island Gay Youth Center were not charged with a "hate crime". Joe shares this e-mail:

Over three years ago, two of the four people arrested were former clients of LIGALY. The individuals regularly displayed inappropriate and disruptive behavior toward staff and other clients. This behavior made many of our clients feel unsafe, and the organization responded appropriately by discharging them from our services. We are saddened to hear that the individuals arrested continued to act out in hatred and violence, as these attacks illustrate.

While the vandalism is no longer being investigated as a bias crime, we feel that the investigation and the attention paid to these crimes by public officials and media was appropriate. Vandalism of this magnitude is intended to send a message of fear. The Center stands as the most public declaration of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender pride on Long Island. As the most visible symbol of GLBT presence and pride, the vandalism was indeed interpreted and felt as an attack on these already vulnerable communities.

So the point is, if two of them were gay, it couldn't be a hate crime because gays don't hate gays, or something. As I'd pointed out, I was one of those who felt much like South Park did about "hate crime" legislation, until reading two different arguments from the Bilerico blog convinced me... the pro-hate-crime argument was stronger than the anti-hate-crime argument. Yet really I'm more convinced that there's a better idea than "hate-crime" legislation, which though well defended, still feels like thought-policing to me.

That comes from a friend of mine named Logan. That rather than going on about something called hate-crime legislation, we should be going about calling it what it literally is... TERRORISM. It'd certainly make the right, who screams about it all so much, go batshit as they realize they're usually the terrorists themselves.

Rather than trying to spell it out, I will give you his words... two different replies pasted together. I think he makes the case perfectly:

I've always thought "hate crimes" was the wrong approach.

See, if someone assaults or murders someone else, they should be charged and tried for that crime.

Now if they commit the crime out of some sense of bigotry towards a group in general. Then they should be charged with terrorism on top of the other charge.

For example: vandalizing a building with a smiley face is a crime against whoever owns the building, vandalizing a synagod with a swastika is a crime against the building owners, but also a crime of terrorism against the Jewish community.

The General Assembly resolution 49/60,[16], titled "Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism," adopted on December 9, 1994, contains a provision describing terrorism:
“Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them."

-Obviously the criminal act was the violation of the 1st amendment of the Supreme Law of the Land.

-Obviously it was motivated by political, philosophical, ideological, religious reasons.

-Obviously it was directed at the homosexual community.

-Obviously it has created a sense of fear in homosexuals for all their rights. It's marriage today, but it could end up being our very right to exist that is put to the vote in the future.

-[Though that's not what I'm talking about here, in our discussion fron which came this quote, he extended logically towards the passing of Prop 8] Obviously homosexuals nation-wide were affected by Prop 8. If Prop 8 is allowed to stand, then no where in this nation will we ever feel safe, because at any time our rights will be allowed to be put up to a vote. All of us have been victimized by Prop 8, we all have a stake in making sure it fails.

And he's right... this definition of terrorism does go all the way to the Prop 8 vote even. Taking this route on vandalism and even the Prop 8 vote, it wouldn't be thought-policing, but an additional, and accurate charge... they were acting as terrorists. And that, no matter what, wouldn't be so easily weaseled out of, because what... can't gays be terrorists too? And of course they can, but all too often that whole defense of, "I can't be a homophobe... I have gay friends!" is actually swallowed. But if you commit terrorism, you commit terrorism, whether you have a gay friend or not. Hate-crime attacks the person's thought as they commit the crime, but terrorism attacks the intentional political ramifications of their action. After all, you are punishing based on the damage they've done. If you can show they caused political terror, it fits... you're punishing based on action, not thought.

“Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons..."

"-Obviously it has created a sense of fear in homosexuals for all their rights. It's marriage today, but it could end up being our very right to exist that is put to the vote in the future."

The question is, did they "intend" to create fear? In most criminal cases, motivation is often a key issue in determining guilt. Proving intent would nail this case shut and allow us to bury them. This will be the hard part.

Maybe they didn't intend to create fear with Prop 8, but you know something... they were trying to send a message, that GOD HATES US. Just watching or listening to the people who put it upon the ballot, you know for a fact they do want us scared... of eternal hellfires for one thing. But also, scared to stand up for ourselves. Scared because we're in a "Christian Nation" that won't put up with us.

I think he drives the point home so well, we're crazy for not trying it. It would stand up in court, and the sweet sweet irony of calling the right terrorists and having it stick... makes me have evilgasms.