Apparently there’s something afoot in the House that has brought this back into national focus. Reading about it, I wandered across a blog post in Orcinus from 2005 January (!). I have to say, for the first time in many years, it gave me something to think about on this issue. I have always been rather cool to the whole idea. I think I agree with Danny Concannon: A crime’s a crime and no murder is any worse or any better than another. But I’ll admit that Orcinus’ argument from mense rea is compelling. Moreover, I hadn’t even viewed hate crimes through the prism that they are crimes against the community as well as against an individual. Put a different way: The purpose of a murder is to kill someone. The purpose of a lynching is to divide a community against itself, to undermine the very idea of the community — in short, to attack society in toto. That’s certainly a different crime and, conceivably, a worse one.
I still think I come down against hate crime laws. Once you begin criminalizing what someone is thinking, we start down a very dark and dangerous road, and I’m not sure we come out the other side. But for the first time in a long while, I have something new to chew over. I’m not as sure as I was yesterday.