Hate Crime Laws Go Too FarJames Kilpatrick usually writes...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

June 13, 1993

Hate Crime Laws Go Too Far

James Kilpatrick usually writes with a clear head (meaning that I usually agree with him). But his column, "Punishing the Crime of Hatred" (May 26) was so off the mark that I can't contain myself.

At issue is whether behavior that is already criminal (i.e., murder, assault, etc.) should be made more criminal, or punished more severely, just because the victim's race (or religion, color,

national origin, etc.) is shown to be a contributing or motivating factor in the crime's commission in the first place. A case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court will determine the constitutionality of Wisconsin's version of today's popular "hate crime laws."

Ironically, although the genesis of these laws was some politically correct attempt to placate the minority and homosexual communities from perceived unpunished injustices, the Wisconsin case involves a black man convicted of attacking a white youth solely on the basis of his race.

However, being a conservative white man, I find no comfort in FTC this irony. For . . . the proponents of "hate crime laws" have as their ultimate goal the outlawing of "subjective bigoted thought." This is how the Wisconsin Supreme Court characterized the statute in its lower ruling against the law.

Kilpatrick invokes the famous words of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes which unfortunately have turned into an over-worked cliche about there being no right to shout "fire" in a crowded

theater. . . .

If I shout "fire" in a crowded theater, it would certainly cause havoc, and possibly endanger people's lives. To that extent, such behavior should be, and is, criminally sanctioned. But that end result is absolutely no different if the reason I shout "fire" is because I want to wreak revenge upon the theater owner, or because I don't like the fact that most of the patrons are of some race or nationality. Yet Kilpatrick says it's all right for the latter to be punished more severely.

It does not take but a short leap of logic for the politically correct crowd, and their allies in the White House, to take the next step and say that the mere expression of thought that is motivated by any "offensive" prejudice (i.e. race, sexual orientation, political persuasion, etc.) whether or not some illegal action follows, is in and of itself a crime. And while Kilpatrick might find this to be all right in the narrow context of the Wisconsin case, he should take a second look at the people "in charge" around Congress and the White House these days and take stock of the people who are going to be defining exactly what is offensive. . . .

Stephen M. Kranz

Westminster

Pet Breeders

Responsible breeders breed for quality, not quantity.

As a hobby breeder myself, I have had only two litters in the last three years. They were sold with the agreement that they would be spayed/neutered and kept only as indoor cats. If the buyers found that they could not keep the animal, I would take it back. I do not want any of my cats to end up in a shelter. . . .

I feel very strongly that this breeding ban will not decrease the overpopulation of unwanted cats and dogs. It will only hurt the quality of pedigree animals.

Pat Jones

Sykesville

Parking Spaces

I have read several letters pertaining to parking spaces for the handicapped.

They would have you believe that most of the people who use these spaces are perpetrating fraud. Of course this privilege like everything else in this life is abused.

Are the people who write these letters medically trained so that ++ in observing people getting out of cars they can tell whether or not they deserve that space? Not everyone is in a wheelchair or on crutches. My wife and I would be only too happy to give up this privilege if we could regain our health.

John C. Hunt

Westminster

State's Attorney

Concerning the response of Carroll County State's Attorney Tom Hickman when the Attorney General's office made him return the ill-gotten medical records of Roy Monroe Robertson: Hickman said, "It doesn't matter, because there wasn't anything in them anyway."

With that in mind, can someone explain to me how Carroll's state's attorney is any different than a thief who steals a man's wallet and then returns it because it was cash poor?

Carmen M. Amedori

Westminster

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