I am writing in response to an article featured in The Lantern on Monday. Nov. 2, by Mr. Jack Millman entitled “Hate crimes unconstitutional, redundant.” I am writing to offer a different perspective on what Mr. Millman believed to be another act of useless legislation by Congress and President Obama.
Mr. Millman attests that the recent legislation passed that expands federal hate crimes to include those directed against homosexuals is an example of “politics at its worst” and causes “irreparable damage to the Constitution.” In his article, Mr. Millman cites several examples he believes emblematic of his argument. I however find these arguments to be extremely lacking in their explanation and in need of serious revision.
There is nothing novel about Mr. Millman’s arguments to be sure; the same arguments have and are made when critiquing the wisdom of current federal hate crimes laws against other groups such as Native Americans, African-Americans, and religious minorities. Mr. Millman contends that such laws are erroneous in that they do nothing to “protect victims.”
This is a bit of a paradox in that “victims” have, one assumes, already been subject to a crime and hence need rehabilitation, not protection. This demonstrates Mr. Millman’s apparent failure to grasp the concept of what laws do; existing to meet injustice with justice as it is due.
Mr. Millman’s paradigms are worth noting in that they are all tautologies based on faulty logic.
Mr. Millman posits that the newly passed legislation makes killing teachers because one hates them less them of a crime than if one hates gays and kills them. This is quite a ludicrous comparison; teachers are not a demographic subject to targeted acts of violence nor do they have a history of being discriminated against. Homosexuals do.
Mr. Millman also brings up the infamous Duke Lacrosse case of recent years. This was an incident that is much more representative of journalistic incompetence and one prosecutor’s lust for power than it has to do with hate crimes and thus also is a baffling comparison to make.
Mr. Millman further chastises the bill for allowing a loophole to the concept of double jeopardy. This legal concept is rarely used by prosecutors and is characteristic of an incomplete argument searching for substance.
Mr. Millman is quite correct that Federal courts can convict criminals of hate crimes after they have been cleared of those crimes by their respective states. The root of this lies in Civil Rights history when bigoted, white juries steadfastly refused to convict obviously guilty murderers of African-Americans in the Deep South; thus they could be prosecuted by non-biased federal courts on the federal charge of hate crimes.
Mr. Millman also contends that the hate crime legislation impedes both free speech and free thought. How the legislation does this remains a mystery however as Mr. Millman has neglected to explain it as his best argument involves an anti-homosexual speech given by a clergymen and the response it received from another pastor.
Perhaps most baffling is Mr. Millman’s conclusion that “[Hate crime legislation] is unnecessary and unconstitutional, exposing innocent people to politicized prosecution for no better reason than holding the wrong views or being in line with a prosecutor’s campaign issue.” Here Mr. Millman bases the crux of his argument on the aforementioned Duke Lacrosse case in another painful attempt to somehow tie his disapproval for the hate bill with the injustice of a notorious wrongful accusation; an event that was an isolated incident, which unlike hate crimes against homosexuals, is not.
In his article, Mr. Millman presents a faulty argument based on illogical examples to prove a case of the futility of hate crime legislation. Mr. Millman deems that such legislation serves no purpose, contends it violates freedom of speech and the Constitution, and is “politics at its worst.”
He is unforgivably wrong on all these counts; such legislation serves the noble purpose of meeting the injustice of bigoted acts of violence with justice in return, makes no adverse impact on freedom of speech or the Constitution, and if Mr. Millman thinks this kind of act is “politics at its worst” he is painfully naïve and is in for a few surprises.