Some people have responded in a rather angry fashion to a post I wrote on hate crimes. Some people really oppose the idea of hate crimes. But we use descriptive words like ‘hate’ to further identify and segregate a number of offenses.
When a man beats his wife – it is not just assault – it is Domestic Violence. If a man rapes a woman – it is not sex, it is assault. If a person is licensed to carry a concealed weapon, as they may in Missouri, and they attempt to board a plane at the airport – whooeee, watch out. They did not really hurt anyone, but the idea of what they might do is so horrendous that society does not allow it.
Hate crimes are like that. I don’t like the use of ‘hate’ to describe anything. It is is not useful or helpful. Hate is a word that naturally offends one’s sensibilities. In my previous post I mentioned the RICO act as an illustration of crimes against thinking about breaking the law – that was unfair and has justly been pointed out by some of our commentators – but the idea was to suggest that we do not have to wait to suffer further indignities before society takes action.
The other criticism of my post was in regard to only addressing the ‘hanging of the noose.’ I did not elaborate on events that transpired after that. I was not trying to – I was only addressing the initial act that began the escalation. So let’s talk about escalation for a minute.
Say you are sitting at a bar in a nice upscale neighborhood tavern, clouds of smoke dim the lights form the Budweiser lamp over the pool table. It is a nice place to pick up chicks so there is a crowd. Someone inadvertently bumps your arm and you spill two teaspoons of beer from your fresh ten ounce glass. What is a man to do?
You say, “Hey bozo, watch yourself.” You say this because the three previous glasses of beer have enabled the eloquence of speech that often eludes you.
He turns and says in return, and with great innocence, “Are you talking to me?” A really good impersonation of Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver always impresses the girls.
Not to be outdone (the women are watching) you say, “I don’t see no other dumb shit standing around. Who do you think I am talking to?”
This is how the Jena 6 tragedy unfurled. One nut spills the beer and the other nut has to one-up him. An innocent bump in the night becomes a nightmare for everyone. Next thing you know – someone is dead. Stabbed, beaten, shot – it makes no difference, they are dead.
Are we to pass laws against macho escalation? What would we call them? Wacko crimes? Crimes of immaturity? Escalation Crime? Perhaps we could name the law after the offended beer drinker, Bubba’s Law. Or Cashman57 Law.
The difference in this scenario is that one man innocently bumped another. The noose was not innocently hung from the tree. And perhaps the Jena 6 did not innocently sit under the tree in the first place. But who cares – if someone spills your beer – let it go.
If you do not let it go then there should and will be consequences.