Guess why P.C. Roberts opposes hate crime laws

Michael S. writes from Sweden:

I just read Craig Roberts’ article at Vdare on the proposed hate crimes prevention bill, and am curious about what you have had to say on the matter.

LA replies:

The problem with Roberts’s article, in addition to the fact that it was written by Paul Craig Roberts, is that he immediately makes his main criticism of this bill the idea that it will result in “people being accused of hate crimes for criticizing Israel’s war crimes.”

The man is crazy. The fact that he thinks an anti-hate crime bill is going to be used against your standard demonizers of Israel, who happen comprise half the left in the U.S., is ludicrous beyond words.

You need to understand the difference between anti-hate speech laws, such as exist throughout the unfree continent of Europe, and the hate crime laws that exist in some U.S. states and also at the federal level. Under a hate crime law, if a person has committed a violent crime, AND if he also expressed “hatred” against the group to which his victim belongs, then that is a hate crime. The “hate” is added onto the underlying crime, increasing the punishment. Now I am totally opposed to laws against hate crimes. I agree with most conservatives that the existing laws are sufficient to punish people for violent acts, and that it is totalitarian to punish people for their thoughts and motivations in addition to their criminal acts. But hate crimes (in the U.S. context) cannot be applied to mere speech, they only apply to an act that is ALREADY a crime (like assault).

Roberts writes:

The State Department has come up with its attempt. The State Department’s approach could include any truthful statements about Israel and its behavior toward the Palestinians that the Israeli government or AIPAC or the Anti-Defamation League would deny or contest.

Anti-Semitic speech can be interpreted as inciting hatred. Inciting hatred can be interpreted to be a violent act. “Excessive” criticism of Israel is a subjective, indefinable concept that can be used to determine anti-Semitic speech. It is easy to conflate “excessive” with “strong”.

Thus, demands that Israel be held accountable for war crimes committed in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, or elsewhere become acts of the “hate crime” of anti-Semitism.

Again, there are no laws in the U.S. against “inciting hatred,” “stirring up discrimination,” etc., as there are in all the other Western countries; the First Amendment precludes them. There are only “hate crime laws,” as I described.

Roberts is a demented opponent of Israel and he belongs in an asylum. If he happens to write non-demented columns on topics not related to Israel, it’s of no concern to me. Peter Brimelow continues to disgrace himself and to taint the immigration restriction movement by publishing the ravings of this sick individual.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 11, 2009 02:42 PM | Send

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