Saturday, August 27, 2005

Merely a Link to a Free Speech Column By The Political Heretic

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Richard Cohen surprises me, comes out of his partisan shell and swings against hate crime legislation.

"I do not find it hard to believe that the accused in both cases may be first-class bigots. I just find it beside the point. Beating someone with baseball bats and iron pipes has long been against the law. Assault is a crime. Battery is a crime. Murder in all its gradations is a crime. What does it matter what words are spoken in the course of the crime? Is the injury to the victim greater?

Ah, but we are told it is not only the injury to the victim that matters but the injury to the community as well. A hate crime affects an entire group. I suppose sometimes it does. But so does ordinary crime. When a rapist is loose in a particular neighborhood, all women are affected. When criminals stalk the park, everyone keeps out. In that sense, hate crimes just affect a different -- or another -- group. I understand. But it is a dangerous concept. It punishes speech. It punishes thought. It punishes on account of the word blurted out in the heat of the moment -- maybe not an indication of bigotry but merely what comes to mind when the mind itself is engulfed with rage."
- Richard Cohen

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