NEWSPAPER SAYS CARTOONS AREN'T MEANT TO OFFEND
Progressive Review - Newsday, which has taken to hiding its online news copy behind a pay wall, isn't having as much luck with its cartoons. A Mallard Fillmore comic strip that referred lightly to hate crimes has come under fire by Latino groups and others, the critics citing a beating death last year of an immigrant.
Reporter Keith Herbert described the cartoon this way:
"The cartoon, penned by Bruce Tinsley, was titled 'Liberals: The Early Years.' It depicted a larger dinosaur chasing a small one. The bigger one says, 'I'm not chasing you because you're a pachycephalosaurus. . . . I'm chasing you because you're delicious.' The smaller dinosaur responds, 'Oh, thank goodness. I was worried that this might be a hate crime.'"
Not all that funny, but a pretty mild poke at liberals who have made such a big thing - without observable positive effect - of institutionalizing "hate crimes."
What was startling, however, was the reaction of the paper to the criticism, as expressed by Newsday spokeswoman Deidra Parrish Williams:
"We expect the cartoons we publish, many of which are nationally syndicated, to amuse, stir and entertain, but never to offend. Hate crime is a serious issue. This nationally syndicated cartoon should never have run and we have expressed our concern to the syndicator."
Political cartoons not meant to offend? What the hell are they there for? It's not that you need to agree with Bruce Tinsley, but if it is against journalistic ethics to make fun of the liberal obsession with hate crimes, what precisely is now permissible?
As we have noted before, hate is a crummy emotion and expression that is protected by the Constitution. Any offenses resulting from that emotion and expression are handled by traditional criminal law.
Hate crime bills are one more step in the restriction of free speech that would encourage still more, which is precisely what happened at Newsday. Tinsley's offense was not hate or a hate crime, but making light of legislation designed to control them. If that's an offense we're in deep trouble.
Further, there is no evidence that hate crime legislation is effective other than for the bragging rights of those who promote it. According to the FBI, between 1995 and 2007, hate crimes declined exactly 4%, some of that presumably due to cultural progress, social change, education and media and not just to the law. In fact, in 2005 - two years before the latest stats- hate crimes were 5% above where they were in 1995.
Further, such laws are inherently discriminatory because, regardless of what it may say in print, the enforcement will be based on a hierarchy of the hated. At present, for example, the homeless, the overweight, skinny little kids and Muslims shouldn't expect too much assistance from hate crime legislation.
In the end, hate crime legislation protects the conscience of its supporters far more than the lives of the victims it is meant to protect.
Wikipedia - The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously found that hate crime statutes which criminalize bias-motivated speech or symbolic speech conflict with free speech rights because they isolated certain words based on their content or viewpoint. Many critics further assert that it conflicts with an even more fundamental right: free thought. The claim is that hate-crime legislation effectively makes certain ideas or beliefs, including religious ones, illegal, in other words, thought crimes.
In their book Hate Crimes: Criminal Law and Identity Politics, James B. Jacobs and Kimberly Potter criticize hate crime legislation for exacerbating conflicts between groups. They assert that by defining crimes as being committed by one group against another, rather than as being committed by individuals against their society, the labeling of crimes as "hate crimes" causes groups to feel persecuted by one another, and that this impression of persecution can incite a backlash and thus lead to an actual increase in crime. Some have argued hate crime laws bring the law into disrepute and further divide society, as groups apply to have their critics silenced. Some have argued that if it is true that all violent crimes are the result of the perpetrator's contempt for the victim, then all crimes are hate crimes. Thus, if there is no alternate rationale for prosecuting some people more harshly for the same crime based on who the victim is, then different defendants are treated unequally under the law, which violates the United States Constitution.
Black and Pink - If a particular crime is deemed a hate crime by the state, the supposed perpetrator is automatically subject to a higher mandatory minimum sentence. For example, a crime that would carry a sentence of five years can be "enhanced" to eight years. . .
Trans people, people of color, and other marginalized groups are disproportionately incarcerated to an overwhelming degree. Trans and gender non-conforming people, particularly trans women of color, are regularly profiled and falsely arrested for doing nothing more than walking down the street. If we are incarcerating those who commit violence against marginalized individuals/communities we then place them behind walls where they can continue to target these same people. It is not in the best interest of marginalized communities to depend on a system that already commits such great violence to then protect them. . .
Hate crime laws are an easy way for the government to act like it is on our communities' side while continuing to discriminate against us. Liberal politicians and institutions can claim "anti-oppression" legitimacy and win points with communities affected by prejudice, while simultaneously using "sentencing enhancement" to justify building more prisons to lock us up in. Hate crimes legislation is a liberal way of being "tough on crime" while building the power of the police, prosecutors, and prison guards. Rather than address systems of violence like health care disparities, economic exploitation, housing crisis, or police brutality, these politicians use hate-crimes legislation as their stamp of approval on "social issues". . .
Hate crimes don't occur because there aren't enough laws against them, and hate crimes won't stop when those laws are in place. Hate crimes occur because, time and time again, our society demonstrates that certain people are worth less than others; that certain people are wrong, are perverse, are immoral in their very being. Creating more laws will not help our communities. Organizing for the passage of these kind of laws simply takes the time and energy out of communities that could instead spend the time creating alternative systems and building communities capable of starting transformative justice processes. Hate crimes bills are a distraction from the vital work necessary for community safety.