IN HIS COLUMN today regarding the Ahmaud Arbery case, George F. Will claims that hate crimes are actually thought crimes, and that expressing horror at them is naught but virtue signaling.
(No, I won’t link to his column. It is odious, and I prefer not to help it organic search-wise any more than necessary.)
I find it hard to imagine that a mind as acute as Will’s truly fails to grasp the concept of hate crime. Will, of all people, surely knows that hate crime is not the same as thought crime. Hate crimes are terrorist acts that target specific populations.
No one in the U.S. goes to jail for hateful thinking. But if you assault The Other for being The Other, you terrorize other Others, and you damn well should go to jail for it—over and above going to jail for the assault itself.
Granted, hate crime isn’t the best moniker. Unfortunate nomenclature plagues many a worthy cause. Black Lives Matter, not the best moniker. Defund the Police, not the best moniker. But it’s incumbent upon decent people, and especially upon writers of Will’s stature, to inform themselves — and their readers! — of what a movement truly stands for. To argue against what the uniformed think a term means as opposed to what it actually means is brazen intellectual dishonesty. It is the antithesis of what is known in debate circles as the Principle of Charity.
Do not let George Will and other fear-mongers worry you that prosecuting a hate crime is a walk in the park. To prove he killed them because they were black as opposed to he killed them and they happened to be black is notoriously difficult. When a hate crime is established to a jury’s satisfaction, it is not to be taken lightly.*
If you so much as glanced at the evidence in the Ahmaud Arbery case, you are most likely aware (even if unwilling to concede) that because he was black came through loud and clear.
So, no, Mr. Will, Ahmaud Arbery’s killers were not convicted “because of their benighted beliefs.” They were convicted for committing the kind of racially motivated murder that, unchecked, has the effect of terrorizing all African Americans.
And: Virtue signaling? Really?
Virtue signaling, a term that the empathy-deprived seem to thrive on flinging of late, is a propagandist tool used to dismiss laudable actions by accusing the person taking them of a holier-than-thou attitude. It is the would-be sophisticate’s version of calling someone a goody two-shoes. It’s a nifty and flagrantly dishonest way to divert attention from the issue to the character and intent of the person raising it.
I thought George Will was smarter than that. Or least not quite so dishonest. Or at least not quite so childish.
* Not that it is to be taken as holy writ. I am well aware that juries can and do err. No need to @ me on that one.
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... where I share thoughts about writing. I don’t consider myself a writing authority, but that doesn’t keep me from presuming to blog like one. Oh, and I reserve the right to digress when I feel like it.