May 29, 2007

HATE CRIME BILL UPDATE: In the latest National Journal, Stuart Taylor writes on Hate Crimes and double standards:

Consider three criminal cases.

No. 1: Christopher Newsom and his girlfriend, Channon Christian, both students at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, were carjacked while on a dinner date in January, repeatedly raped (both of them), tortured, and killed. His burned body was found near a railroad track. Hers was stuffed into a trash can. Five suspects have been charged. The crimes were interracial.

No. 2: Three white Duke lacrosse players were accused in March 2006 of beating, kicking, choking, and gang-raping an African-American stripper, while pelting her with racial epithets, during a team party.

No. 3: Sam Hays bumped against Mike Martin in a crowded bar, spilling beer on Martin’s “gay pride” sweatshirt. Martin yelled, “You stupid bastard, I should kick your ass.” Hays muttered, “You damned queer” and threw a punch, bloodying Martin’s lip.

Now the quiz.

Which of these would qualify as a federal case under a House-passed bill — widely acclaimed by editorial writers, liberal interest groups, law enforcement officials, and many others — expanding federal jurisdiction to prosecute “hate crimes”?

Bonus question: Why have the interracial rape-torture-murders in Knoxville been completely ignored by the same national media that clamor for more laws to stop hate crimes — the same media that erupted in a guilt-presuming feeding frenzy for months over the far less serious Duke lacrosse charges, which were full of glaring holes from the start and turned out to be fraudulent?

The answers.

The interracial Knoxville rape-murders would probably not qualify as hate crimes. The reason is that although the murderers were obviously full of hate, it cannot be proven that they hated their victims because of race. (Or so say police.)

Both the Duke lacrosse case and the (fictional) barroom scuffle, on the other hand, would probably be federally prosecutable under the bill that the House passed on May 3 by 237-180. This is because the angry words attributed to the accused could prove racist and homophobic motivations, respectively.

Do such distinctions make any sense? Not much, in my view.

He also notes a media double standard: “The reason that the national media have ignored the Knoxville case is that the defendants are black and the victims were white. The media would also be uninterested if both the victims and the defendants were black. But had the victims been black and the accused white, the media would have erupted into the same politically correct sensationalism that characterized the Duke case. And many would have cited the case as proof that we need more hate crime laws.”

I think that’s probably right. The link above is subscriber-only, but you can read the whole thing for the next few days at this link.

Meanwhile, A.C. Kleinheider says “Nazis! I hate those guys!”

UPDATE: More from Nat Hentoff.