State House

South Carolina Hate Crime Crusade Targets Municipalities

A controversial attempted end-around …

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Frustrated in their efforts to pass a statewide hate crimes bill, supporters of the controversial legislation are leveraging the backing of the Municipal Association of South Carolina (MASC) in the hopes of compelling more cities and towns to pass hate crime ordinances.

Their purported motivation in doing so? Bowing to corporate pressure …

“The lack of statewide hate crimes legislation has caused cities and towns to miss out on valuable economic opportunities as various civic, cultural and sporting organizations opt to host events and tournaments in neighboring states,” the MASC said in a statement.

Chiding lawmakers’ “inaction in passing hates crimes legislation,” MASC leaders are pressing more municipalities to approve ordinances featuring “enhanced penalties” based on what allegedly entered a criminal’s mind at the time they planned or perpetrated a crime.

This media outlet received reports of one such push in Hanahan, S.C. – a city of approximately 21,000 people in Berkeley County. Council members have reportedly cited the MASC pressure as their reason for raising the issue for debate.

“This is something that was requested by the Municipal Association,” one council member wrote in response to questions raised by a constituent. “They requested that municipalities act in the absence of action by the state legislature.”



Fifteen South Carolina towns and cities – including its four largest municipalities – have enacted hate crime ordinances at the local level. Meanwhile, federal hate crime statutes have been on the books since the late 1960s, but were dramatically expanded under the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

These statues (18 U.S. Code § 249) were used in the 2016 trial of convicted white supremacist murderer Dylann Roof. In that case, they controversially preempted state law in securing justice for Roof’s victims.

Basically, they federal government refused to give South Carolina a chance to hold Roof accountable for his crimes.

An incredibly sloppy version of hate crime legislation was passed by the “conservative” S.C. House of Representatives last year – but it has stalled in the S.C. Senate. There, majority leader Shane Massey has made it clear the bill would not be set for special order.

The lead proponent of hate crimes legislation in the Senate is Deon Tedder of Charleston, S.C. Tedder, ironically, finds himself at the center of an ongoing sexual assault investigation. He is also one of the powerful lawyer-legislators at the S.C. State House who has been accused of attempting to manipulate our state’s system of “justice” for his own ends.

Good luck finding any of that context in the mainstream media coverage of this issue, though. Also, good luck finding any mention of the duplicative nature of statewide hate crime statues, the added strain they would place on an already overburdened South Carolina court system or of the dangerous – and selective – incursions on liberty the legislation could cause.

The latest proposed statewide bill – H. 3104 – would have added penalties for criminal acts in which victims were “intentionally selected, in whole or in part, because of the person’s belief or perception regarding the victim’s race, color, religion, sex, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disability.”

Like the underlying violent crime, such “intentional selection” would have had to have been proved beyond a reasonable doubt by prosecutors during a separate hearing following the original trial.




Assuming “intentional selection” were proven, multiple penalties for purported “hate crimes” could have been imposed by trial judges – including the assignment of civil liability, $10,000 in additional criminal fines and up to five years in prison.

However, the language contained absolutely zero guidance as to how these discriminatory factors should be defined. It would have merely compelled “the court with competent jurisdiction over the underlying offense (to) instruct the trier of fact to find a special verdict as to a violation of the provisions of this section.”

A.k.a. thought policing

While Palmetto State media outlets barked approval of this like obedient seals, I opposed it.

“This is opening Pandora’s box – creating a breeding ground for selective enforcement,” I noted last spring.

I also reiterated my long-standing opposition to hate crime legislation in principle.

“I’ve often written that ‘crime is crime’ and that some degree of hate is required for the commission of most violent crimes,” I noted the previous time this legislation began advancing through the S.C. General Assembly. “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.”

Violent crime in the Palmetto State has been on the rise in recent years – including targeted acts of violence. That is the scourge our laws must address – along with the inherent unfairness in how our laws are upheld.




(Travis Bell Photography)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and eight children.



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Love Thy Neighbor June 24, 2024 at 1:11 pm

Something cartoonishly evil about the title of this one, but it is just standard conservative upset over the notion that hate would be considered a punishable motivating factor in a crime as it suggests there’s something inherently wrong with their strongly held personal beliefs.

River Top fan June 25, 2024 at 9:39 pm


River Top fan June 25, 2024 at 9:43 pm

The current criminal laws of this state are sufficient.


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