According to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, they do. He signed a new law last week making attacks on armed government workers – you know, cops – a “hate crime” subject to harsher and additional penalties than would otherwise apply.
Edwards – a former armed government worker himself – has an interesting view of crime and punishment, as well as of rights. These vary in degree according to such things as the color of the uniform one wears.
Punch a mere peon (not uniformed) in the face because you hate the guy’s guts and it’s still a crime, but a lesser one. “Hate” enters into it only if the person receiving the punch happens to be a certain category of person, such as a uniformed one.
One of the state’s armed enforcers.
The presumption being you didn’t exactly like him, either.
But now (in John Bel Edwards’ fief) it’s an actionable offense to not like the blue-clad person you struck. Whereas if the reverse were to happen (the armed/costumed government worker threw a punch at you) it is merely a physical assault and not also a “hate” crime. . . .
But even if it obviously is – let’s say the armed/costumed government worker is caught on tape cursing his victim, calling him a “dirty skell” or a “maggot” – he can only be prosecuted for the actual punching.
His hate isn’t actionable.
Which is… odd.
Well, not right.
Rights – such as the right to not be punched in the face – cannot vary according to the person affronted. It’s either right – or it’s not. Regardless of the color of the people involved, or the costumes they happen to be wearing.
And punishing people differently (or additionally) for committing the same violation of another person’s rights cheapens the currency of one person’s rights, while valuing another’s more dearly undermines the very concept of rights.
This is a feudal way of doing things. One may not affront the person of the king – or his barons. But the king – and his barons – may do as they like with the serfs.
That is what Governor (perhaps Shire-Reeve would be the more fitting title) Edwards has just codifed into the law.
He claims it was done in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, but this doesn’t parse. The BLM movement does not claim that the lives of black people matter more than the lives of other people. Their complaint – a legitimate one – is that the lives of black people should not be valued less than the lives of other people.
By people wearing blue especially.
They – blacks – have a legitimate grievance. There is no question, for example, that they are disproportionately hassled and punished by people in blue over trumped-up (because no victim) “offenses” involving arbitrarily illegal “drugs” (not including alcohol, which is a more socially accepted and therefore arbitrarily legal drug).
But all of us have a beef with this business of putting the state’s enforcers on a pedestal – literally – by making their persons more sacred than ours. Shire-Reeve Edwards makes the usual noises about these enforcers “taking risks to ensure our safety” when they do nothing of the sort.
Or at least, it is not their primary function.
They themselves openly tell us that the very most important thing uber alles is their safety. At our expense, if need be – and even if not.
And the courts have just as openly stated that the primary business of law enforcement is… law enforcement. To make us obey.
The blue-clad do not have a legal obligation to lift a finger – much less put that finger at risk – to “ensure our safety.”
Yet most people have been successfully conditioned to view law enforcers – heavily armed, heavily protected, with back-up and all the legal privileges that attend their station – as selfless Lone Ranger types, putting our lives ahead of theirs when the need arises. It’s a fairy tale right up there with the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus, but most people grow out of those delusions around the age of 12 or 13.
But even Santa Claus doesn’t expect special treatment under the law.
And while it’s no less an affront to their rights (and equally deserving of punishment) when a Mere Ordinary physically assaults one of them, an affront to our rights committed by them ought to be dealt with more severely. Not because they “hate” us.
They are just as entitled to that as we are entitled to hate them.
But because when they abuse us, they have abused their authority over us.
Possessing authority ought to impose a particular obligation to be judicious in the use of that authority. Else that authority is more likely to be abused. A deterrent – in the form of greater responsibility – is essential.
And yet, the reverse is the rule. Those in blue are held to a more lenient standard than we are. Which is an incentive for them to be less careful about trespassing on our rights.
Which – not surprisingly – wane as theirs wax.
Perhaps even more ominous is that “hate” crimes as usually construed – as when applied to skin color or genitalia or the use thereof – extend beyond action (e.g., actually punching someone in the face) to one’s views of others.
If these are not correct they are criminal.
“Hate speech,” for instance. That is, speech that the aggrieved group deems “offensive.” In the UK and other European countries, it is a prosecutable offense to offend someone (the offense defined by the persons offended).
Basically, to hurt their feelings. To challenge some orthodoxy.
We still have the rickety defense of the First Amendment, but it’s going the way of the Fourth, Fifth and other ex-amendments.
Imagine what it will be like when it becomes criminal to speak ill of an armed government worker – perhaps government workers generally. Or not show sufficient reverence. Perhaps even to look at them “funny.”
No doubt, Shire-Reeve Edwards can’t wait.
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