Archive for the ‘hate crimes’ category

Hering: Hate crime laws are unnecessary

June 9, 2008


Some day our hate-crimes laws may go too far. The creation of this category of crime was not really necessary in order to prosecute offenses. Threatening behavior, doing damage or causing injury could always be prosecuted even without the additional label.

He misses the crux of the argument for hate crime laws: Committing a crime for the specific reason of intimidating a particular population, because the crime is motivated by hatred, is substantially different – substantially worse – than doing it for some other reason. For example, something like burning a cross on someone’s lawn does a lot more damage than just burn the lawn: it can frighten whole communities.

Also, this:

But by adding the label and enhancing the penalties we’ve taken a step toward the way they make laws in France.

That falls well foul of the slippery slope fallacy.


PZ Myers Can Kiss My Ass

July 30, 2007

I like militant atheists, at least most of the time; I’m of the opinion that atheism as a belief system (and it is one) gets dumped on in the public square in this country.

I used to like atheist and science blogger PZ Myers, who is a very sharp fellow, and not one to back down from defending his beliefs. Myers has also done an amazing amount of work debunking creationism and so-called intelligent design, something for which I am glad.

Apparently, however, he is also a giant fucking dickwad:

…I’m thinking of picking up a cheap copy of the Qu’ran. And I’m thinking … what to do, what to do. It will, of course, be something in the privacy of my home, with my very own copy — none of this public vandalism and veiled threats to people who believe. It will just be a demonstration of my right to treat my property as it deserves and of my opinion of this silly book.

Supposedly, Mr. Myers is planning on desecrating a Qu’ran (in the privacy of his own home) in response to someone in New York being arrested and charged with a hate crime for throwing a Qu’ran in a public toilet.

Myers doesn’t think it’s a hate crime, and I think he’s making a stupid mistake. He makes no reference to the possibility that the case was, in fact, a hate crime. I don’t think desecrating a religious book is automatically a hate crime, just as I don’t think every instance of white-on-black violence is a hate crime. However, I also think people don’t go around chucking books in toilets for shits and giggles, and that the possibility that this was a hate crime is therefore very real.

What makes something a hate crime is the motivation behind it. This is not news. Hate crimes, as usually understood, are designed to scare, terrorize, and dehumanize entire populations of people.

Furthermore, the very news story that Myers links to makes it very clear that this incident was part of a larger series of crimes with religious overtones, which suggests that the “hate crime” label is, at the least, within the realm of plausibility, if not completely correct.

Given that, I’m wondering – and I don’t read Pharyngula enough to know the answer to this – if Myers actually thinks religion should not be covered under hate crimes law. I have trouble believing he would argue such a thing, but at least it would make this tirade of his consistent with his beliefs. If he actually believes that, then he’s a fool. If not, then his actions make little sense.

In any case, I’ve stopped reading him as of today. It’s unfortunate, because I liked his sense of humor and the fact that he posted on politics from his perspective (that and I don’t read many science blogs as is). Given this most recent post, however, I can’t continue to take him seriously. That kind of disrespect is not only stupid and counterproductive (if he’s at all interested in anything other than annihilating people who believe different things), but, as far as I’m concerned, shows that his behavior and thinking mirrors that of the most reactionary and authoritarian religious fundamentalists out there, the very people he rails against: he doesn’t like the respect accorded to the belief, so he’s going to piss on it. Pathetic.