I have already gone on record regarding the so-called “hate crime” bill passed by the South Carolina House of Representatives this week. The measure is duplicative, violative of individual liberty and accomplishes nothing practical other than allowing politicians to pretend to be “woke.”
The federal government already has expansive hate crime statutes on its books (18 U.S. Code § 249). Also, as the case of convicted white supremacist murderer Dylann Roof made abundantly clear, federal charges always preempt state charges – especially in high-profile cases.
The feds totally took control of that case instead of doing what they should have done – which was allow the lawfully elected prosecutor from the Palmetto State to do her job and get multiple murder convictions (and a sentence of death for Roof).
Because Scarlett Wilson absolutely would have done that …
However, once Roof was sentenced to death at the federal level for multiple counts of murder (a punishment he richly deserves, incidentally), the state case became moot.
Anyway, beyond the duplication of charges (and prosecutorial resources) South Carolina’s hate crime bill also strikes me as a dangerous incursion on liberty – essentially criminalizing thought (however ignoble) and establishing for selective enforcement (i.e. one form of hate is better than another).
I’ve often written that “crime is crime” and that some degree of hate is required for the commission of most violent crimes. Adding superfluous charges in the hopes of criminalizing the thought processes that ostensibly led to their commission strikes me as silly – to say nothing of creating a slippery slope toward a full-scale assault on the First Amendment.
“On one level, I get it. It’s hip to be ‘woke,” I wrote earlier this year regarding the bill. “To signal our ‘virtue.’ To condemn the easily condemnable – and to receive plaudits and front-page banner headlines from the media for doing so. That takes zero thought or effort – as does canceling anyone who dares to utter so much as a syllable of common sense opposition to the prevailing ‘herdthink.’”
Furthermore, it is utterly indefensible that South Carolina’s “business community” made the passage of this bill its top legislative priority at a time when small businesses and individual taxpayers are still reeling from the after-effects of Covid-19 and its societal shutdowns.
Anyway … this was the debate I had hoped to have today. Unfortunately, newly elected state representative Vic Dabney of Camden, S.C. had other ideas.
“It’s our whiteness and our ‘straightness’ that keeps getting in the way,” Dabney wrote in a since-deleted social media post. “No matter how much we give in to them, we just can’t seem to get it right.”
Okay … I can feel that frustration. I probably wouldn’t have worded it quite that way, but I get where Dabney is coming from.
His next statement, though, took things too far …
“In our ‘color blind’ society, we are constantly reminded that we are the problem because of our skin color,” Dabney wrote. “We are the reason that blacks can’t seem to succeed in our society.”
One state lawmaker – John King – slammed Dabney’s comments as “overtly racist.” Of course King calls people racist at the drop of a hat with little-to-no-justification … so it’s hard to say if his response was a reflective barometer. For that, I turned to a lawmaker who has a bit more credibility on this issue.
“What he said was very offensive,” state representative Justin Bamberg told me on Thursday, referring to Dabney’s remarks. “I’m not going to call him a racist, but his words were extremely tone deaf and complement what minorities have been dealing with across America – times have changed but some folks’ mentalities haven’t.”
That’s a much more reasoned take, in my estimation.
“I’m a minority. I’m successful. I have a father,” Bamberg continued. “Minorities like my colleagues and I are NOT an exception to status quo. We are the status quo in the minority community. I don’t know why folks still think otherwise in 2021.”
Dabney is correct that way too much blame is being apportioned to people in this country who have done nothing wrong – and have in fact worked to advance racial equality. He is also correct that “whiteness” and “straightness” are being unfairly vilified in our country by those seeking to advance agendas. In expressing that view, though, he made a comment that was deeply demeaning and belittled the accomplishments of literally tens of thousands of black South Carolinians who have busted their asses to make something of themselves – often against greater odds than white South Carolinians.
For that, he absolutely should apologize …
Hopefully that will happen soon so that we can get back to discussing the truly important issues associated with “hate crime” legislation – namely that criminalizing thoughts and beliefs is inherently dangerous for all Americans.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading.
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