Hate crime laws attempt to criminalize thoughts

This story comes to us from Broward County, Fla. Teah Wimberly, 16, is charged with murdering Amanda Collette — a friend and classmate at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale. Both girls were 15 at the time of the shooting.

According to police, Wimberly wanted more than just a friendship with Collette, whom she’d known since childhood. Wimberly wanted a lesbian relationship with Collette, who rebuffed the idea, news reports indicate. On Nov. 12 of last year, Wimberly took a .22-caliber handgun to school and fatally shot Collette.

Wimberly’s trial started last week and is expected to continue this week. This may be the first time you’ve read about the case, unlike when Matthew Sheppard was murdered in Wyoming or when James Byrd was dragged to death in Jasper, Texas.

My guess is you know plenty about those latter two incidents. Sheppard was gay; two men beat him to death because he was gay. Byrd was a black man whom three white supremacists chained to a truck, dragged through the streets of Jasper and beheaded.

Both grisly crimes, to be sure. And when President Barack Obama signed a new federal “hate crimes” law recently, it was called the Matthew Sheppard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

That’s a misnomer, because the law prevents nothing of the sort. And it creates classes of victims and perpetrators, as if some victims of violent crime are better than others, or the perpetrators of the same are worse.

And therein lies the answer about why Wimberly wasn’t charged with a hate crime. She’s the wrong sexual orientation: lesbian. Had she been a heterosexual teen who shot a lesbian, you’d have been able to repeat the details of this story verbatim, because that’s how many times you’d have heard it.

Ms. Wimberly is also the wrong race: She’s black, or, as the current PC term goes, African-American. Her victim, Colette, was also a “person of color,” to use yet another annoying PC term.

I’ll repeat what I’ve said about “hate crimes” laws for some time: They should be more correctly called “bust whitey’s hump” laws. These laws target whites who commit crimes against “people of color.” You’ll rarely see them used against “people of color” who commit crimes against whites. And it’s even rarer to see them used against “people of color” who commit crimes against other “people of color.”

Ever heard of Cheryl Greene? She was a black girl killed by members of a Mexican-American gang in Los Angeles. There have been some very nasty brown-on-black crimes committed in Los Angeles recently, but like the Amanda Collette murder, most media outlets give them little to no coverage.

The victims are the right color, but, dang it, the perps just aren’t. Nothing makes for the perfect hate crime like a white perp and a victim who’s a “person of color.”

Or, if you’re like the Obamas of the world, a victim who’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or transsexual. The purpose of the Sheppard-Byrd Act was to add them to the list of approved “hate crimes” victims. At least that’s what the law’s supporters would try to con us into believing.

The truth is this: Supporters of “hate crimes” laws don’t want to criminalize the conduct of those who commit crimes based on race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Wyoming and Texas both had murder statutes on the books that allowed the killers of Sheppard and Byrd to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. It’s not like the murderers escaped punishment.

No, supporters of “hate crimes” laws want to criminalize certain thoughts and ideas. That makes them far more dangerous than those who commit nonviolent “hate crimes.”

The yokels who’d burn a cross on a lawn, paint a swastika on a synagogue or yell the dreaded “F” bomb at a gay couple are, at worst, insufferable bigots. At best they’re simply royal pains in our collective neck.

But those who want to criminalize thoughts and ideas will soon lead us down the path to totalitarianism. Given my druthers, I’d gladly suffer the annoyance of the silly, nonviolent acts of a few idiotic bigots than trust an advocate of “hate crimes” laws to govern this nation.

Examiner columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.

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