Last weekís column on The Minutemen generated a bit of e-mail. "A bit" as in "my inbox runneth over."
Most responses were positive and many of those who disagreed with me Ė sometimes forcefully - did so in a civil manner.
Some respondents, however, had me wondering. From their tone, Iíd lay odds that whenever they come across anything that doesnít conform to their worldview (Mars would be my guess as to that world), they immediately launch into a vein-popping tirade.
In their e-mails, they tossed around terms like "hate speech" and "hate crime" like confetti at a New Yearís Eve party.
Such terms donít sit well with me.
I understand hate. Iíve seen it, heard it, lived amidst it, and have even experienced it a time or two myself. There are, indeed, individuals and groups out there who hate as part of their daily lives.
May they stew in their own juices.
Still, I donít like the term "hate speech" because, whatís defined by many of our politically correct betters as "hate speech," all too often resembles a darned good argument to which they do not have an honest response.
I understand speech that is hateful. Itís something ugly and vile and it marks the speakers as being a lot less than what the good Lord intended them to be.
The thing is, Iím an adult and I can deal with such speech. While growing up, I had parents, teachers, pastors, relatives, and even neighbors who made sure that I was well armed in this regard. It was part of the way many of us were raised.
In short, if someone wants to spew venom and make a complete ass of themselves, thatís fine. They get to do that. Itís called living in a free society. We get to ignore and even shun them. Thatís called adult behavior. It drives them batty.
Iím not particularly fond of the concept of "hate crimes" either.
If someone steals my car or takes my wallet, does it matter if they like me or not?
If they mug, maim, stab or shoot me, does it matter what they call me while they do it?
The crime is in the act. Thatís what can be proven and thatís what should be punished. I donít really care to delve into the sewers of their minds to ask "why" they did such thing.
In a just society, though, the penalties for such crimes should be harsh. In fact, they should be so harsh that those convicted of doing such things would think twice about doing them again Ė after, of course, having spent a goodly amount of time breaking big rocks into little ones in some truly godforsaken, hot, humid, and smelly place.
As for those who kill others in cold blood, Iíll give you three guesses (the first two wonít count) as to my stance on what should be done with them.
What truly scares me about "hate speech" and "hate crime" legislation is the fact that it gives government the power to codify the definitions of "hate speech" and "hate crimes." Old Joe Stalin and the boys wouldíve loved, understood, and welcomed such power.
Beyond scary, however, is what would soon be the next step. Thatís when theyíd get around to passing "hate thought" laws.
Make a face when you hear someone rattling on about how we need to be more "inclusive" (a term I sincerely wish would just disappear from the language) and some "PC" twit would have you up on charges in a heartbeat.
Nearly burst out laughing when some kid with spiked blue hair rings your doorbell and asks to see your daughter and theyíd draw and quarter you.
That last, by the way, was an actual occurrence. I wasnít expecting the hair, the piercings, the baggy clothes, and the "sinister" slouch. I saw it and my "Oh, good grief" gene took over.
I apologized and went upstairs to keep from busting a gut.
Hateful people have the right to be cretins. What they donít have is the right to harm or threaten others. And we already have laws to deal with that.
"Hate speech" and "hate crimes" laws, however, give government the power to punish based on something thatís quite a bit less than objective.
And such power, in any governmentís hands, is a truly dangerous thing.