Bookworm is taking the weekend off, so I’m hoping in with one of my questions. I’ve been thinking a lot about hate speech and hate crimes since the Imus nonsense and the whole idea puzzles me.
Is hate a crime? Senators Kennedy and Smith are introducing a new hate crimes bill. NOW is all excited. But does it really matter whether, when a person commits a violence act against another person, the criminal is motivated by hate of an individual or a group? Isn’t the violent act punishable enough?
Colleges all over the country are trying to ban hate speech. One would think that college campuses would be bastions of free speech of all kinds, even hate speech, but not so. To its credit, even the ACLU opposes such bans. What does it say about what our kids are learning that so many schools support such bans anyway?
While we’re at it, should Imus have lost his job? I don’t think he necessarily should have lost his job simply for making a bad joke, however crude. But, just as he has a right to his speech, his sponsors have a right to decide not to sponsor his speech. And his bosses have a right to fire him, rather than lose revenues or listeners because of his speech. And, by the way, I have no problem with people calling on him to be fired (or not fired). They are only exercising their free speech rights as well.
Anyway, what do the readers of the Bookwormroom think about hate crimes and hate speech? Is hate a crime? Should it be?