[Marxism] Hate crimes, again

Jeff meisner at xs4all.nl
Fri Sep 11 08:27:28 MDT 2009

At 17:48 11/09/09 +1200, John wrote:
>The article David posted is odious....

>. But the issue of hate crimes is a separate
And not a terribly important one, in my opinion. What is important is that
racists oppose it because it is a statement against racism (perhaps not the
best one, but it is). So I oppose racists trying to regain "rights" that
they have lost because those were not democratic rights but the "right" to
be racist with impunity. It aids the enemy when someone on our side
actively joins that campaign (as Thorstad does, I'm not talking about you
or the others).

> It's a logical extension of hate speech as a criminal offence.
Yes, these are in the same category: racists want to protect their "right"
to hate speech for obvious reasons. "Hate speech" or Holocaust denial laws
(I assume that's what you're talking about) are a further issue but aren't
involved in the present discussion because I don't think there are such
laws in the US (where there ARE "hate crimes" laws in most states), so we
can discuss that issue later.

> If
>someone is brutally murdered the perpetrator should be held accountable.
>Whether or not the person hated gays, blacks or whoever, and whether or
>not that had a bearing on the death could be impossible to determine
Well then, according to the system where you have to be proved "guilty
beyond a reasonable doubt" (not that it always works that way!) then no one
would be affected in cases where it isn't possible to determine that it
falls into this category. Next? 

> and
>even if it could, how can it ever be proved that it was the reason for
>the crime.
The same way it can be proved that a landlord's racism was the reason they
rented their property to 47 out of 76 white applicants and 0 out of 32
black applicants. Or when that person had repeatedly expressed racist
thoughts to others or written such thoughts publicly and there was no other
conceivable motivation for the crime. It must be proved beyond a REASONABLE

> Do we have sentences now that are too short? I don't think
No, in the US they are too long, as we all agree.

>..... as someone just said, before adding that
>they're fine for people who we don't agree with.
No, I didn't say anything about it being a matter of whether I/we agree
with them. Please don't misrepresent my words! I was saying that I have no
reason to oppose the principle of racism/sexism/homophobia being considered
as an aggravating factor in determine someone's punishment. So after
reducing sentences to 1/3 of their current levels (as I had advocated) a
judge might have the power to punish a racist crime with an increased
sentence, perhaps a triple sentence. But it wasn't my intention to mix up
these issues.

>What if, in a period of heightened class struggle, a Marxist killed
>his/her boss. Could that be called a hate crime?
NO, because in the US at least, the term "hate crime" refers to crimes
motivated by racism and in some states sexism or homophobia. That is just a
legal DEFINITION and obviously if you change a definition then statements
that someone previously made using that WORD no longer represent their
opinion. So this is not a valid objection. I can't help that they used the
term "hate crime" which might be considered a misnomer, but I am concerned
with RACIST crime, which is what we're discussing.

>All such legislation does, whether it's hate speech legislation or hate
>crimes sentencing, is to silence people and drive ideas underground.
(We'll talk about "hate speech" later). What did you just say? That
punishing racist assault or murder is driving their IDEAS underground? How
could that be unless the "idea" you're talking about is publicly advocating
racist violence. No, unfortunately racists will still have their ideas, but
might be less likely to ACT on them, which would be GOOD! 

> Getting rid of that defence seems
>entirely appropriate, but pushing for a special thing called a hate
>crime, with longer sentences
In the first place, I am not "pushing" for it: it already exists in most US
states and I don't oppose it on principle. But this issue arose because one
person on this list finds it important to oppose the extension of these
laws to include homophobic motivated crimes rather than just racism. I
think that's very wrong, and puts us in alliance with the right wing which
opposes these laws for more insidious reasons even though they use the same
ABSTRACT arguments about "free speech" and "reading someone's mind" that a
few on the left have chosen to advance.

- Jeff

>, is not a democratic call at all in my

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