Sean King

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Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I Wonder When Politicians Will Make Themselves a "Protected Class"?

John Whitehead: [H]ate-crime laws are shortsighted in that they favor a particular class of individuals for protection and seek to punish certain prejudices. As authors James B. Jacobs and Kimberly Potter ask in their book, Hate Crimes: Criminal Law & Identity Politics, “should all prejudices (ageism, anti-gay bias, bias against the physically and mentally disabled, etc.) be included in hate crime laws or only a select few (racism, ethnic bias, and religious bias)? Inevitably, if some groups are left out, they will resent the selective depreciation of their victimization.” For instance, the Hate Crimes Act singles gay people out for expanded protection from hate crimes, yet fails to address the thousands of crimes that occur each year against people who, while not gay, just don’t “fit in.” As one journalist asked, “Why not accord the same enhanced protection to kids who stutter, teenagers with bad acne, or adults who are overweight, homeless, or have unusually large ears?”

Of course, when politicians ban hate speech directed at themselves, they'll refer to themselves as "public servants" rather than politicians, and they will no doubt exempt themselves from their own laws, as they often do.

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