Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Hopeful Step to the Trash Heap of History

Thoreau’s confinement in a New England jail resulted in a nice little epigram—the body might be jailed, but thought, once uttered, cannot be recalled or squelched.

Which brings us, torturously, to the current debate, Dear Gentle Reader(s), of the Matthew Shepard Act, which purports to punish certain acts as “hate crimes.”  It is surely foolish to try to criminalize hate, but that really isn’t the primary purpose of hate crimes  legislation, is it?

What such legislation does is to foster a discussion about the genesis of hate, at least as regards certain social situations.  How long has it been since there was a white on black killing where the perpetrator escaped justice?  Or since the perpetrator was able to claim a “Twinkie defense?”  Or a homosexual panic defense?

The more we speak of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, the more light is shone on these topics, and the less it is possible for bias to develop into a murderous rage.

What we need is more thought, and more people willing to speak their thoughts.  At some point in the near future the hate crime laws will be erased from the books.  That erasure is another “consummation devoutly to be wished.”

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