The Blue Lives Matter Movement & the Inherent Trouble With (and Need for) Hate Crime Laws

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Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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120 Responses

  1. Avatar Doctor Jay
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    says:

    You appear to be roughly where I am on hate laws.

    I do not understand the head space that would prompt someone who is in a dance club and not dancing to take offense to someone’s invitation to dance. They have every right to decline, of course.

    I have been a feminist a long time, and I’ve been noticing lately that there is a cadre of (mostly) white women who exercise class privilege while using feminism as cover. I do not appreciate that at all. For instance, when women call other women “slut” or “whore”, they aren’t complaining about the frequency of sex, but about the choice of partner – in short, it’s a class slur, and meant to establish social dominance.

    That’s not to say “slut-shaming”, which does complain about the frequency of sex and number of partners, doesn’t exist.Report

    • Avatar Will H. in reply to Doctor Jay
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      says:

      Promiscuity is not a desirable sort of quality, without regard to gender.
      It is proper to denounce such a thing.

      I really hate this sort of thing where (certain) women take out to do the most horrid sort of things with the excuse, “But men do it!” when the fact of the matter is that it is not *ALL* men who do such things noted as horrid, but a certain class of men that make this their habit.

      In short, I truly do not give one damn about “slut-shaming,” period.Report

  2. Avatar Saul Degraw
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    says:

    One of the big stories in the past few years has been police overreach and police brutality especially against minorities.

    These stories happen just as much in Democratically controlled areas as Republican ones if not more so. San Francisco’s police commissioner recently resigned after a long fight to get him to leave. There have been a series of stories of racist and homophobic texts being shared by police officers. This was followed by the shooting and killing of an unarmed pregnant African-American woman. It was that shooting that finally got SF’s police commissioner to resign.

    The conflict seems to be who becomes a police officer and what are the police for, who do they serve and reflect. There are LGBT firefighters and police officers in San Francisco (and other cities). One of the police officers caught sending racist and homophobic texts was Asian-American. But it seems to me that the police really see themselves as a separate class above all and many Americans support the bill.

    I also wonder how much the Blue Lives Matter bill is an attempt to troll liberals and more liberal cities that are trying to reign in police brutality and overreach. I lack a better term than trolling but our political situation seems to becoming a partisan version of the Battle of the Somme.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      ” I lack a better term than trolling but our political situation seems to becoming a partisan version of the Battle of the Somme.”

      You’re just busy whistling past Dixie, while they sell the farm out from under ya.

      Do you not see this is a deliberate strategy?Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      I also wonder how much the Blue Lives Matter bill is an attempt to troll liberals and more liberal cities that are trying to reign in police brutality and overreach. I lack a better term than trolling but our political situation seems to becoming a partisan version of the Battle of the Somme.

      The fact that it’s called a “blue lives matter” law ought to be your first hint that it’s trolley rather than a good faith attempt to address a real problem. Are there really any more assaults on police officers now than there were, say, five or ten years ago? Is there really anyone saying “That Beyoncé video, man, got me all pumped up, I’m gonna find me a cop and show him what’s up!” Really? I don’t believe it, any more than I believe dungeons and dragons is what drives despondent teenagers to suicide (if they suicide, that’s awful, but they were going to suicide anyway) or voting for Hillary Clinton turns young Christian Barbies into granola-eating lesbians (if your Christian Barbie daughter becomes a granola-eating lesbian, she was a lesbian all along and what do you have against granola anyway?).Report

      • Avatar J_A in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        I am a supporter of Blue Lives Matter. I have been committed for a long time to a charity that helps widows and families of policemen (and other first responders) that died in the course of duty. I have paid respects to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington.

        I don’t have any relatives in Law Enforcement. I do this because I am in awe that some people are willing to consider a career in which dying to protect others is a non trivial likelihood. It’s a sacrifice I cannot even fathom. So I try to give back some to the families of those that made it.

        And yes this law is plain and simple trolling. To me, it demeans what Blue Lives Matter means. And I’m not a happy bunny for it. An Anticop Hate Crime Law is stupid, and trolling, and solves no existing problem.

        Yes, police brutality is a thing that should be reined in. Fast. Swiftly. It’s hurting our society. It plants divisions between the police and those they swore to protect. It corrupts. And it corrupts black officers as much as it corrupts white officers, because they all carry the blue veneer on top. It sickens me.

        But, nevertheless, every day I am thankful of the Thin Blue Line, and those that are out there, building it, in exchange, by the way, for very shitty pay.

        Blue Lives Matter.

        They do

        YesReport

        • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to J_A
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          says:

          I commend you for the charity work and support for law enforcement and appreciate the nuance you express regarding the bad conduct of some officers staining the reputation of the whole profession.

          In my neck of the woods, officers do much better than earning shitty pay. They tend to live comfortable middle class lives. I fear not paying cops enough money renders them vulnerable to corruption, so I’m a big supporter of paying cops well for their work.

          Besides, they earn it. It’s a tough thing to do, dealing with the margins of society and seeing people on their worst behavior, all up close and personal.

          For some, law enforcement is a necessary evil. For others (this sounds like you), it’s a noble calling, maybe with some flaws as currently cast, but a critical and generally praiseworthy institution. I think of it as a profession rather like my own: a vocation, with a system of ethics and duties to the public, bearing and indeed requiring special legal privileges and special social prestige to be effective, something someone in it “is” as much as something someone in it “does.” I agree with you that it’s worth protecting and respecting.

          Please don’t ever think, if I’m critical of law enforcement as a profession or with respect to any particular case, that the criticism is any different than criticism I might levy against a law or a politician or a cultural practice: it’s intended to make things better. I write here to criticize a law, not law enforcement.Report

          • Avatar J_A in reply to Burt Likko
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            says:

            i know

            i was planning to skip commenting on this post because there was nothing i could say that would improve on what Tod wrote, and it’s a subject I’m a bit touchy about.

            It’s a stupid, unneeded law. Tolling.

            But at the end, I felt we were missing a little bit of defending the words “Blue Lives Matter”Report

  3. Avatar Mike Dwyer
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    says:

    Question for the legal experts: Are hate crime laws intended to suggest pre-meditation? For example, if a group of white guys decide at the spur of the moment to jump another white guy, they get a lesser sentence than if they planned it ahead of time. If those same guys jump a black guy because they are racist…does the hate crime law assume their racism made them pre-disposed to jumping him? I really don’t know here…

    If we define hate crime as ‘a crime committed based on irrational dislike of a certain group’ then I can’t help but wonder if it does apply here. What I have seen in the last couple of years certainly makes me think that The Police (the profession, not the band) are being vilified based on the action of a few. How is that any different than someone who hates all black people because he looked at the crime rate and reached poor conclusions?Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Mike Dwyer
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      says:

      At least part of the answer is the police have quite a lot of power to defend themselves through their significant legal resources and social power. Minority groups don’t’ have that same power. It would be akin to saying a billionaire should be able to get a public defender. The billionaire doesn’t need the free help because they can pay for a truck load of attorneys. The poor person needs the help.

      People who attack cops have serious resources thrown at them to put them away. People who attack minorities or who are part of hate groups ( vague term but good enough for here) don’t have that same attention. Also painting a swastika on a wall has a specific and powerful meaning. It is mean to terrify ( although it was likely done by a dope as a prank) That is very different from painting Joanie loves Chachi on the wall.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to greginak
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        says:

        greg,
        If it’s fucking terrorism, call the guy a terrorist and prosecute him for that.Report

        • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Kim
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          says:

          That would be the ideal, yes. But as a society we can’t seem to get our heads around that – officials who clearly should know better still make statements to the effect of “We can’t say for sure that the bomb that went off in the public square was an act of terrorism, because we don’t yet know whether the bomber was Muslim.”Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Mike Dwyer
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      says:

      What I have seen in the last couple of years certainly makes me think that The Police (the profession, not the band) are being vilified based on the action of a few. How is that any different than someone who hates all black people because he looked at the crime rate and reached poor conclusions?

      Mike, did you read the post?

      Not trying to be flip with that question. I am just asking because, like, 75% of the text in my post is addressing that very point. Which isn’t to say that you need to agree with me. Just that presenting the question as one I have begged seems odd in this instance.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Tod Kelly
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        says:

        @tod-kelly

        If that point was made, I missed it. I don’t see anywhere that you are referencing some of the irrational attitudes towards the police which sparked the counter Blue Lives Matter movement. In fact, you sort of hand-wave the concern here:

        “As far as I can tell, there is absolutely no problem — either currently or historically — with the American legal system not charging or acquitting people who have clearly been proven to have murdered, raped, or assaulted police officers. “Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Mike Dwyer
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          says:

          The relevant distinction between crimes committed against police officers and crimes committed against unpopular minorities is that, at a small community level, one of those things has a history of going unpunished due to people in said community not really caring for the victims, and the other has no such history.

          To the degree that they are needed, hate crimes do not exist to signal to bullies that you should be nicer to particular groups of people. They exist so that crimes committed against one group of people don’t become de facto legal in certain communities where local authorities are unwilling to investigate, prosecute, or convict such behavior.

          If and when we reach a point where cities, towns, or rural areas are acquitting cop-killers for the sole reason that they thought cops in general needed to be sent a message, I will be first in line to add police to hate crime laws. Until then, adding them just makes hate crime laws a tribal signaling device.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly
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            says:

            To the degree that they are needed, hate crimes do not exist to signal to bullies that you should be nicer to particular groups of people. They exist so that crimes committed against one group of people don’t become de facto legal in certain communities where local authorities are unwilling to investigate, prosecute, or convict such behavior.

            drphil.gifReport

            • Avatar RTod in reply to Jaybird
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              says:

              I do not know what this means.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to RTod
                Ignored
                says:

                “How’s that workin’ out for ya?”Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Mostly good, but with some mixed bag results requiring periodic thought, adjustments, and moments where I feel less than comfortable, and some undeniable unintended consequences. So I guess for me, it’s woking out pretty much the same as the Constitution, society in general, being married, having kids, being alive, and any other important thing worth doing?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly
                Ignored
                says:

                I was more focusing on what you said in the part that I quoted, not asking about society in general.

                Here’s the hate crime report from 2014.

                A couple of things that I noticed:

                Law enforcement agencies identified 5,814 known offenders in the 5,928 bias-motivated incidents. Of these offenders, 52.4 percent were white and 24.3 percent were black or African-American.

                Of the 6,933 hate crime offenses reported in 2013, 63.9 percent were crimes against persons (e.g., intimidation, assaults, rapes, murders), while 35 percent were property crimes (mostly acts of destruction/damage/vandalism). The rest were considered crimes against society (like drug offenses or prostitution).

                Why did I notice that first bullet point? Well, because of this.

                As for why I noticed the second, I bolded it… and, yes, that’s a very small percentage of the hate crimes but I worry that it’s the tip of an iceberg. If we can have prostitution hate crimes and drug offense hate crimes, I’m wondering about a chunk of the others and the extent to which we’re merely signalling to bullies that you should be nicer to particular groups of people.Report

          • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Tod Kelly
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            says:

            Tod Kelly: The relevant distinction between crimes committed against police officers and crimes committed against unpopular minorities is that, at a small community level, one of those things has a history of going unpunished due to people in said community not really caring for the victims, and the other has no such history.

            Hate crime legislation has a funny way of addressing it though. Rather than limiting prosecutorial discretion by police and the justice system, they just tweak the penalties. And in fact, they can make it harder to gain a conviction since it requires the prosecutor to show that the motive behind the crime was protected-class-based discrimination.

            I’ve noticed this pattern. People regularly think “well, if we’re going to have a bunch of criminals who do something, we should at least punish the tiny minority unlucky enough to be convicted a lot.”Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Tod Kelly
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            says:

            @tod-kelly

            “Until then, adding them just makes hate crime laws a tribal signaling device.”

            And that’s where we probably disagree. I would argue that they already are. I don’t think anyone thinks about hate crime laws before they commit an act. It’s similar to capital punishment not really deterring murder. So in that sense, when we have laws that are not proactive deterrents, but reactive punishments, there is a LOT of signaling going on. They are signaling to the criminal, “We think what you did is really bad.” They are signaling to the population that, “Behavior X is especially bad.” And they are also signling to the rest of the world, “Look at us, we are very progressive. We have a bunch of laws that express how distasteful we find certain crimes.”

            Ta-Nehisi Coates had this great line today where he said, “The hammer of criminal justice is the preferred tool of a society that has run out of ideas.” Sounds about right to me.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer
      Ignored
      says:

      “If we define hate crime as ‘a crime committed based on irrational dislike of a certain group’…”

      Pretty sure that isn’t how ‘hate crime’ law is defined in the legislation.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        How is it defined?
        If it’s not terrorism, in truth — or other forms of organized crime, then who’s to stop someone from punching “dat asshole” and only later figuring out he was Native American? And getting in trouble for that?? (sub gay if you must)Report

    • Avatar Will H. in reply to Mike Dwyer
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      says:

      I know a guy who had one of his trainers at Academy shot dead on a porch answering a call. A bunch of teenagers driving around looking specifically for a cop to shoot.
      So, it does happen.
      Will a hate crime law change it?
      Not likely. If killing a police officer is a capital offense, then whatever they tack on after that (e.g, dismembering the body, defiling the grave, etc.) isn’t going to have much deterrent effect.

      The typical pattern with such laws is to elevate the offense.
      Hate crime laws seem like an odd way of doing things, especially in this instance.

      It would cover civilian employees of the police department, but other than that, I don’t see it as really doing anything.Report

      • Avatar Francis in reply to Will H.
        Ignored
        says:

        Supreme Court case law on death penalty is very complex. But last I checked (and I could be wrong) States could no longer mandate the death penalty for any offense. Instead the State must consider factors in aggravation and factors in mitigation.

        This is why, even in a cop-killer case, there is a separate death penalty phase.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Will H.
        Ignored
        says:

        The crime you describe, @will-h , would already subject to sentence enhancement for “victim is law enforcement officer” and eligible for consideration as a “special circumstance” in the event capital punishment was on the table. At least, I know that’s the case in California and thus have difficulty imagining that it’s otherwise anywhere else. There is no reason at all to imagine that such a crime would not be vigorously investigated, aggressively prosecuted, and robustly sentenced.

        So what does a Blue Lives Matter law add to this scenario?Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko
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          says:

          Beyond that, these laws already exist for a number of public employees. Whenever I ride public transport, there is always a sign reminding passengers that assaulting a driver/employee is a felony and carries potential sentences of X and fines of Y. I mean, I suppose it is possible that these are identical potential penalties to assaulting any joe off the street and they are just attempting to put a second thought in someone’s mind before they go off half-cocked on a bus driver who has no control over traffic, but my hunch is that these assaults would be handled differently.

          I think Burt’s point gets to the heart of the matter: what do these laws actually accomplish?

          ETA: I’d actually be curious to learn if they extend these protections to off-duty police. I mean, it’d seem like they’d sort of have to to honor the spirit of hate crime legislation: if someone is killing someone because he is a police officer, it doesn’t matter if that guy is in the line-of-duty or not. And yet, we already see cops offered special protections when off-duty (even when they are the one pulling the trigger)… so maybe this still wouldn’t make a difference.Report

        • Avatar Will H. in reply to Burt Likko
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          says:

          @burt-likko : You already know the answer to that, and I’ll get there in a minute.

          First, let me add that there are multiple possible enhancements to elevate the offense; and most typically, at the state level, this is done within different paragraphs of the same statute.
          There are enhancements (in some jurisdictions) for criminal action undertaken in concert.
          There are enhancements (in most, if not all, jurisdictions) for criminal action against a police officer. These often extend to ‘a public servant in the line of duty,’ but are more often enumerated in specific; e.g., taking a swing at a paramedic, in my own jurisdiction, is felonious, but I can smack a bus driver all I want (as per @kazzy ‘s comment below).

          There is nothing at all a Blue Lives Matter statute would add to the above scenario. That was not the point. The point was that police are sometimes specifically targeted for violent crimes. A Blue Lives Matter statute does nothing to change that.

          The answer to your question (that you already know):
          So what does a Blue Lives Matter law add to this scenario?
          Is:
          It depends on the jurisdiction.

          Which, btw, cuts to the heart of the what it is that makes this post problematic. [ ETA: No one is more against hate crime legislation than me. I’m the hater of all haters, and the haters of haters most of all. Doesn’t change things here though. ]
          So far, not one thing I have read in the comments addresses the Lousiana law in specific.

          Here’s what the hate crime statute in Louisiana says:
          It is a separate criminal offense (i.e., a ‘hate crime’) to do [ long list of things ] against [ long list of persons ].
          The meat of it is at paragraphs B & C.

          A bit of background is needed to understand what is going on here.

          In most states, lawmakers designate each crime by class (such as “Class A felonies” or “level 1 felonies”). Each class has its own sentence or range of sentences. Louisiana does things differently. Louisiana’s laws designate crimes as misdemeanors or felonies and fix sentences on a crime-by-crime basis.

          Source.
          Also:

          In many states, lawmakers have set forth classes of misdemeanors (for example, “aggravated misdemeanors” or “class A misdemeanors”) and each class has a set sentence or range of sentences. In Louisiana, lawmakers designate crimes as misdemeanors or felonies and fix sentences on a crime-by-crime basis.

          Source.

          Now, we can understand what the Louisiana the crime statute says:

          B. If the underlying offense named in Subsection A of this Section is a misdemeanor, . . . the offender may be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both. This sentence shall run consecutively to the sentence for the underlying offense.

          C. If the underlying offense named in Subsection A of this Section is a felony, . . . the offender may be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned with or without hard labor for not more than five years, or both. This sentence shall run consecutively to the sentence for the underlying offense.

          Source (the link from the OP).

          This is essentially a minimum-sentencing law.

          That’s the way they taught me to do it in the paralegal program.

          Have you hugged your paralegal today?Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Mike Dwyer
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      says:

      Hate crimes, especially at the federal level, exist for the reason Our Tod describes in the post: regular crimes, regular law-enforcement, and the regular judicial system, I have proven ineffective in practice to mete out punishment when a regular crie committed on a victim who is a member of a disfavored minority.

      You might disagree with the premise that regular laws against assault, murder, rape, and other violent crimes are less effective when the victim is a minority. I for one do not, because I can see every time I go to court, but as a practical matter and despite what I take to be good faith on the part of the individual authorities, crimes against white people are enforced more vigorously then crimes against other kinds of people. The bizarre part of it is that the race of the prosecutor or the police officers or the judges or the juries involved does not seem to matter. (I focus on race for ease of illustrative purposes, not to imply an exclusivity of other bases for this phenomenon in other contexts like sex or religion.)

      You might be troubled, the way I am, that a hate crime law is intentionally designed to short circuit the double jeopardy clause. If you are a lawyer, you might wonder, as I do, whether a regular crime charged to an individual includes hate crimes the way that same charge includes what the judicial system calls “lesser-included offenses”: if I am charged with grand theft for allegedly stealing your computer, the prosecutor does not need to bring a separate charge of petit theft, in the event that the evidence demonstrates your computer is not valuable enough to meet the threshold for grand theft.

      That a great deal of criticism of hate crime laws is based on a false premise: that the law punishes a particular point of view or a particular expression of ideas. disliking black people, while culturally condemned, is not a crime. Period. Merely saying things that are offensive to black people, while far from desirable, is not a crime. Crude and urgentle rhetoric are charges that might be leveled at either the authors and performers of various works of art critical of the police, or at political activists such as black lives matter. But crude and ungentle rhetoric are no more crimes when wielded by black lives matter activists than when they are wielded by alt-right weirdos. Criticizing the police is not a crime.

      So much like Our Tod, I’m troubled that these laws are the way that Congress has chosen to react to apparent miscarriages of justice occurring at the state law enforcement level. But I think that a law of this nature passes constitutional muster, even if it is widely misunderstood as reaching conduct that is constitutionally protected. The law does not actually do that.Report

  4. Avatar notme
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    says:

    As I said in my post about this subject almost an hour ago, this doesn’t trouble me at all. We already have laws against ssault and battery yet liberals say we need hate crime laws to protect gays, women, blacks etc. If it’s good for them, why not cops?Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to notme
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      says:

      @notme

      Are you not bothered by it A) as a way of pointing out liberal hypocrisy or B) because you actually think it’s a good law?Report

      • Avatar notme in reply to Mike Dwyer
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        says:

        In general I think hate crime laws are silly b/c murder, assault and battery are already illegal and wrong no matter your sex, skin color, etc. To me, hate crimes are an extension of liberal identity politics. That being said, due to the nature of their job as enforces of our laws, cops are generally not popular. I think that a sentence enhancement is more justified for violence against cops or other public officials who are performing their public duties.Report

  5. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    This is why making official distinctions between “punching up” and “punching down” is bad.Report

  6. Avatar Damon
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    says:

    Nice post Tod. I’m pretty much in agreement re hate crimes except I don’t see the need for any of them.Report

  7. Avatar Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    “Any system that will be thrown against you if you or the person you kill is one race but won’t be if you or your victim is another race should be deeply troubling.”

    I’m pretty sure hate crime laws can — and are! — used against folks of all races.Report

    • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      That’s my understanding, too, @kazzy . Or at least it’s my understanding that they’re phrased neutrally (regardless of how often they’re enforced against whom), so that it’s the “hatred” not the special identity of the target, that triggers prosecution.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        Above, @jaybird quotes the 2014 Hate Crime Report and it shows about a 2:1 ratio of white offenders to Black offenders (which together account for about 75% of offenders). So it seems pretty clear to me that anyone can be both guilty OR the target of hate crimes (in the eyes of the law). Interestingly, even those numbers are disproportional at least in terms of the general population (though not in terms of the demographics of those already being prosecuted/convicted of crimes, of which hate crimes are a necessary subset*). Just looking at those raw numbers I can’t really say one way or another if the laws are being applied fairly with regards to race — and if they aren’t they certainly should be — but the idea that they are only applicable to a certain type of “hate” is erroneous.

        * Hate crime laws don’t actually make anything illegal. They can only be applied to actions that were already illegal. They are enhancements, not actually laws themselves.Report

        • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Kazzy
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          says:

          Thanks for pointing that out. I must’ve not noticed Jaybird’s comment above. And I imagine your footnoted point is right about hate crime laws not making anything illegal that would otherwise be legal, although I can probably imagine a couple of hypotheticals that work against that notion. But to pursue those hypotheticals, I’d actually have to do research into what actual hate crime laws say.

          tl;dr: I agree with your comment.Report

  8. Avatar Francis
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    says:

    Oh dear. I think a lot of this is misplaced. To start with, over here on one side we have federal laws that give the federal government the power to prosecute individuals for violating the civil rights (via lynching) of another. These laws are not commonly referred to as hate crimes laws. While these laws do serve as a remedy against deliberate state law discrimination in favor of mob violence, the laws are deeply troubling to those who believe in the idea of double jeopardy. (US Constitution, Amendment V.)

    And over here on the other side, we have state laws that escalate the punishments associated with certain acts. For example, tagging a wall with graffiti is a relatively minor offense, unless its a swastika on the side of a synagogue. Burning scrap lumber in your neighbor’s yard is minor trespass and nuisance, unless the wood is in the shape of a cross and the neighbor happens to be black. A bar fight is at most misdemeanor assault, unless its a group of X race kids going into a Y race bar.

    One way to look at hate crimes laws is simply that the prosecution is required to show that the act was done with the specific intent to harm, harass or (Oh No, I’m agreeing with Kim) terrorize the victim and other members of the victim’s community. So a cross-burner can be convicted of trespass, but the sentence is dramatically enhanced if the jury makes the additional finding that the trespass was for the intent of terrorizing the community.

    In many jurisdictions, crimes against public officials acting in their official capacity already carry enhanced sentences. We want our fellow citizens to feel free to serve in a public capacity and so we impose additional punishments against those who use violence against them. So the ‘Hate Crime’ laws against public officials already exist. Recent Blue Lives Matter laws appear to me to be more about making public statements (posturing?), pushing back against the scrutiny that LEOs are receiving in the press.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Francis
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      says:

      This.

      I’ll add that I largely think this is political trolling against a perception that “hate crime” is over-applied in some case, and never applied in others. Basically, it’s a way to “prove” that minorities can be just a hate motivated, but prosecutors are loathe to try and prove that claim when a minority attacks a white person (therefore, when the black youth takes a swing at a cop, he gets hit with a “hate crime” charge, and becomes a statistic that favors that view).Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Francis
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      says:

      I think I agree with Francis a million percent here.Report

    • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Francis
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      says:

      I’m also in agreement, particularly with the last paragraph. it is already quite common for crimes directed against police officers in the course of their duties to be punished more harshly, both in terms of the laws on the books and the practical reality of how law enforcement prioritizes different crimes, what plea bargains prosecutors make, etc. Many states include other professions, like firefighters, teachers, or public transit employees, in such laws. I don’t have a problem with that in principle; to assault or murder an on-duty police officer is in some sense to attack law & order and the legitimacy of the state itself, so it makes sense to judge such acts quite harshly.

      That said, these laws already exist Even if they didn’t the discretion of cops and DA’s and judges would ensure that cop killers are prosecuted extremely harshly, when they survive to be prosecuted at all. Adding new penalties strikes me as overkill, and calling them hate crime laws and tying this into the rhetoric around BLM just underscores how inseperable this is from PR and partisan point-scoring.Report

      • Avatar Lyle in reply to Don Zeko
        Ignored
        says:

        I agree violence against police is already punished more severly than other violence, for example in many states killing a cop on duty means your eligible for the death penalty. As another commenter point out once you put the death penalty (or life without parole) into play there is really little more the state can do to a person, a 500 year additional sentence does not mean anything but a feel good for societyReport

  9. Avatar Kolohe
    Ignored
    says:

    You know why I’m against hate crime laws? Do we want to charge women who are taking ‘deep offense’ and ‘make a scene’ at some Dude Bros hitting on them with a hate crime?Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Kolohe
      Ignored
      says:

      That is many mileposts down the slippery slope, @kolohe .Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Burt Likko
        Ignored
        says:

        Yep, we all know that slippery slopes are a fallacy. That’s totally why there’s no mass incarceration, why nobody’s being killed on the streets of NYC for the crime of selling cigarettes, or on the streets of Baltimore for moving faster than a walking pace. Broken Windows 4 Evah.

        We’re all agreed, though, with Tod Kelly’s premise that the women are terrible people. I mean, sure, no means no and all, but not to the extent that you make a scene? That’s beyond the pale.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Kolohe
          Ignored
          says:

          Slippery Slopes are lazy arguments that can prove everything with any evidence.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
            Ignored
            says:

            The best part about slippery slopes is that you can just call any modus ponens argument that you disagree with a slippery slope and then, wham, you no longer have to address any point it makes.Report

            • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
              Ignored
              says:

              Which i’m sure puts us on any slippery slope you choose to state. Playing Chutes and Ladders stopped being fun many many years ago.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
                Ignored
                says:

                I suppose yelling “slippery slope” is vaguely better than yelling “strawman” or “ad hominem” (my favorite variant: “ad hom”) but, honestly, one should do a little more work.

                If someone is saying:
                P -> Q
                Q -> R
                R -> S
                S -> T
                Therefore
                P -> T

                They are actually making a valid argument.
                As such, you’re stuck pointing out that the argument that they’re making is unsound… which pretty much entails pointing out that one of these conditional statements is not true. (Though, yes, it’s certainly much, much easier to just yell “slippery slope!”)

                And, for god’s sake, if someone says “P -> Q”, that’s *NOT* an example of the slippery slope fallacy. It’s a conditional statement. It can be true. It can be false.

                IT’S NOT A SLIPPERY SLOPE.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                sigh….But its lazy and you can prove anything with that kind of argument. Not everything, in fact almost nothing, proceeds in a straight line. Most things go back and forth and off in odd directions. You can have all those conditionals but each condition has multiple options that branch off in different directions. Each condition has the potential to lead to a reaction in the opposite direction. Plenty of things have gotten worse and plenty have gotten better. Predicting the future is not that easy. The farther out you go the more likely you are to be wrong; there are more options, reactions, unexpected or ignored inputs and directions.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
                Ignored
                says:

                Lazy?
                P -> Q
                Q -> R
                R -> S
                S -> T
                Therefore
                P -> T

                Requires a hell of a lot more effort than “slippery slope!”
                On top of that, you can’t “prove anything”. If, for example, R->S is false than P->T is false.

                So, for your conjunctive statement: “But its lazy and you can prove anything with that kind of argument.”

                P&Q has a P which may or may not be true but a Q that is definitely false
                P&Q where Q is false makes P&Q false.

                And *THAT* is true.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t think a series of conditionals constitutes a slippery slope argument. (You probably don’t either, when all’s said and done.) The argument has to include how DISMANTLING a principle or policy will ENTAIL the outcome. Probabalistic stuff is enough to justify a worry, but not enough to justify the entailment.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                I’d be fine with an exchange like the following:

                “This will all end in tears.”
                “Don’t be a downer, man. It’ll be awesome.”

                The whole
                “This will all end in tears.”
                “SLIPPERY SLOPE!”
                thing grates.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I hear ya and am personally coming around a bit on that topic. Not the logic part, but the pragmatics. The “blue lives matters” thing is a Sippery-slopist’s dream come to life.

                Argumentatively speaking.Report

              • Avatar J_A in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                This is not an accurate description because the A–>B implies (pun intended) that B only depends on A, and that if A, then B will necessarily come about, ignoring that reality is a multivariable, chaotic, system

                For instance, the Santorum’s of the world’s slippery slope is that gay marriage will bring forth people marrying farm animals.

                In reality, gay marriage only affected the partial derivative of marriage with respect to sex, so the only implication is that, if people’s marriage to farm animals come to pass, a man will be able to marry a cow or a bull, a stallion or a mare.

                But gay marriage did not affect the partial derivative of marriage with respect to species, or the partial derivative of marriage with respect to consent, or the partial derivative of marriage with respect to mental capability, or the partial derivative of marriage with respect to age (can I marry a calf if I can marry a bull?), or the partial derivative of marriage with respect to number (so, so far, I cannot marry a bull AND a cow even if I am bisexual). Viewed like this, gay marriage has not moved us at all towards marrying farm animals.

                The A implies B: B implies C, etc. argument is a fallacy when you try to move it from a series of singularly dependent functions to a multivariable environment.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kolohe
          Ignored
          says:

          Personally, I don’t think “mass incarceration … being killed on the streets of NYC for the crime of selling cigarettes, or on the streets of Baltimore for moving faster than a walking pace” is an example of a slippery slope. By my lights, those outcomes were more or less intended.

          On the other hand, I think you’re on to something when you say that “hate crimes” against women could take the form you suggest: covering the unwanted being hit on and the making of a scene. Unfortunately, I could actually see that happening. And it isn’t a real stretch, either.Report

          • Avatar notme in reply to Stillwater
            Ignored
            says:

            Who was killed for selling cigarettes?Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to notme
              Ignored
              says:

              Eric Garner you silly goose.Report

              • Avatar notme in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                He died while resiting arrest. There is a considerable difference, you silly goose. I don’t understand why liberals keep repeating this lie. It won’t become true just because you keep saying it.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to notme
                Ignored
                says:

                He died while resiting arrest.

                For selling cigarettes? Man, that’s pretty loosie. Especially for a lawyer. Ain’t you a lawyer?

                Reminds me of that old Steve Martin joke: death penalty for parking violations…Report

              • Avatar notme in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t understand why he decided to resist arrest for such a minor thing, especially considering his health issues.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to notme
                Ignored
                says:

                “Unhealthy people ought to submit to restraint. It’s for their own good.”Report

              • Avatar notme in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                It’s unhealthy for anyone to resist arrest but more so if you know you are overweight and have breathing issues.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to notme
                Ignored
                says:

                “If you didn’t want your pamphlets to be confiscated by Redcoats, maybe you shouldn’t have used unstamped papers.”Report

              • Avatar notme in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I think I read about the black guy that was choked to death by the Redcoats for selling pamphlets on unstamped paper.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to notme
                Ignored
                says:

                Your mindless flailing against people you perceive to be “on the other side” would seriously benefit from having read history.

                Or even a book.

                Hell, Wikipedia once in a while would be a step up.

                You might discover a need for a unifying set of principles of which to act in service above and beyond that of “are the people who I use as my lodestone saying P… Better say ~P!!!”Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to notme
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t understand why he decided to resist arrest for such a minor thing

                What, exactly, does your understanding of his behavior have to do with anything, notme? He was selling loosies and got choked to death by a cop.

                For selling cigarettes.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                He wasn’t selling cigarettes at the time. He walked past some cops who made fun of him for how he chose to make a living and he said something like “that’s it!” and started giving the police officers a piece of his mind.

                And they choked him to death for doing that.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                As I was walking into Yankee Stadium the other night, a kid..maybe 10-14 — Age was hard to gauge but no one would look at him at think, “Adult” — rode his bike past the cops who were securing the pedestrian walk away and said something. It seemed directed at the cops and judging by the tone, didn’t seem particularly friendly — I don’t think he said, “Great job!” But I don’t know what he said and it is possible it wasn’t even in English.

                One of the cops jumped on his bike and pedaled after the kids. Not a lights-flashing, high-speed-chase kinda pursuit, but definitely followed after him. The screwed up look on his face and the way he seemed to pause briefly before deciding to go after him made it seem like he was reacting from a place of anger.

                I sure hope that kid didn’t end up in a choke hold.Report

    • Avatar Francis in reply to Kolohe
      Ignored
      says:

      Well, ambitious prosecutors overcharge all the time anyway, so maybe its the turn of empowered women to go under the wheel.

      no, of course not. But if you can draft legislation that empowers prosecutors to go after real hate crimes, such as the examples I listed above, while constraining their power to go after those women you’re concerned about, you’re invited to send it to your State Representative and Senator. It’s harder than you think. Take a look at your state’s Penal Code.Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Francis
        Ignored
        says:

        This, this this. The criminal code doesn’t say “bonus prison if the crime was extra bad because of its racial/socioeconomic/gender/whatever implications.” The law describes things with a fair amount of specificity. For @kolohe ‘s hypothetical to come to pass, a legislature would have to pass a bill criminalizing such activity.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kolohe
      Ignored
      says:

      Quick law theory.

      There are the (criminal) laws that you pass and, a while after you pass them and arrest the criminals who commit said crime and/or incarcerate/rehabilitate them, crime goes down.
      There are the (criminal) laws that you pass and, a while after you pass them and arrest the criminals who commit said crime and/or incarcerate/rehabilitate them, crime more or less stays static.
      There are the (criminal) laws that you pass and, a while after you pass them and arrest the criminals who commit said crime and/or incarcerate/rehabilitate them, crime goes *UP*.

      The best laws, it seems to me, are the first kind.

      The worst laws, it seems to me, are the last kind. (See, for example, the War On Drugs or Prohibition.)

      Hate crimes strike me as being the last kind. Perhaps they weren’t intended to be when they first were theorized… but they sure as hell seem to be them now.Report

      • Avatar Francis in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        The following two statements are both true:

        A. Actual real hate crimes occur on a regular basis in this country. It’s probably a good idea to have a category of crimes against people and property that impose enhanced sentences when the prosecution can establish beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant had the specific intent through his conduct of terrorizing a protected class of people.

        B. Prosecutors for the most part have no institutional pressures against overcharging. Good defense counsel then pleads out the case for what it’s actually worth. But when an actually innocent person is charged, they can face the crushing decision of pleading out to something that they didn’t do or take their chances on a jury trial, with the risk of serving absurd number of years.

        Good solutions to B are thin on the ground. It’d be nice to have a more active judiciary that is willing to strike charges before trial so the defendant knows what he’s really facing. It’d be nice to create structural incentives for prosecutors not to overcharge. It’d also be nice for me to win the lottery. And since I don’t even play, the odds of all these events are about equal.

        As to the factual claim that hate crimes law make crime worse, I’d have to see some evidence. Crime rates are plummeting around the country.

        Edited to add: The following also is true: C. For many years, crime bills were unstoppable. So Penal Codes are chock full of various kinds of enhancements to the underlying crime. That tide, at least in California, has finally changed as a result of a couple of Propositions and a legislature and governor wanting to cut spending on prisons. However, many of the old laws remain on the books.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Francis
          Ignored
          says:

          As to the factual claim that hate crimes law make crime worse, I’d have to see some evidence.

          I think this depends on how you think about crime. Crime is down in general, as is (I believe) violent crime, but how often are prosecutor’s charging hate crimes, or, more to the point, threatening to, in order to secure a plea? Actual crime may be down, but if DAs are aggressively over-charging and threatening hate crime modifiers on the thinnest of reasons, that makes crime worse, in the sense that those people are more likely to enter the penal system and bear that burden for the rest of their lives.

          It’s not a problem of Hate Crime legislation, as such, but of the incentive structure of our CJ system. Since we don’t have a good answer to how to structure DA incentives to prevent over-charging, we should be very cautious when giving those DAs more tools to use in unintended ways.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Francis
          Ignored
          says:

          As to the factual claim that hate crimes law make crime worse, I’d have to see some evidence.

          I didn’t say “worse”. I said “go up” and, by that, I meant “increase”.

          A few short months ago, a guy who attacked a cop got charged with “attacking a cop”.

          Now, in this part of the country, a guy who attacks a cop gets charged with “attacking a cop” and “the hate crime associated with violence against our fine police officers, #BlueLivesMatter”.

          Once upon a time, one crime. Now? Two crimes.

          Maybe crime will decrease after this law works its magic, though.Report

          • Avatar Francis in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            I have no objection to cutting the Penal code by about 2/3rds. Building the political consitituency for it is another matter. Reducing prosecutors’ power to extract pleas is a tough roe to hoe.

            Thanks for clarifying your remarks, btw. I did misunderstand your point.Report

        • Avatar Will H. in reply to Francis
          Ignored
          says:

          Actual real hate crimes occur on a regular basis in this country.

          This is the truly horrible part– that hate crimes are real.
          What are we going to do about that? seems to be the question.
          If the past is any indicator of the results of collective action, the answer would be: Make matters worse.

          when the prosecution can establish beyond reasonable doubt . . .

          This is complete bs.
          There is a lot more to that judicial realism stuff than most people like to admit.
          Also, the effect of cognitive biases cannot be ignored.

          the defendant had the specific intent through his conduct of terrorizing a protected class of people.

          This is why I am against hate crime laws.
          1) What the hell is a ‘protected class’ of people?
          Do I trust government to decide that?
          and:
          2) I truly, honestly believe that hate crimes (and hate generally) are the result of inadequate information; that exposed to adequate information, anyone would be ashamed to be truly hateful.
          And so, I have to ask, is the person incarcerated more likely to gain adequate information to overcome ingrained hatred by being incarcerated, or by some other means?
          And I honestly and truly believe that “by some other means” stands a much better chance, and that incarceration only exacerbates the matter.
          And after exacerbating the matter, then one day we lat the poor fuck out of jail– to do– what?

          This seems so much like (part of) what is wrong with the drug war to me, criminalizing an illness, to the end of making that illness far worse.
          That’s a solution I can do without.Report

  10. Avatar Mo
    Ignored
    says:

    Don’t we already have these laws? There are already cop killer laws and special crimes related to assaulting a police officer. This is like the Simpsons episode where Bart laments that we don’t have any days honoring our veterans and Lisa replying, “We have two*!”

    * Not technically correct, as Memorial and Veterans Day honor different groups, but the point standsReport

  11. Avatar Joe Sal
    Ignored
    says:

    Imma gonna chalk this one up to people building and fishing with each others social constructs. Not the first, sure as hell ain’t going to be the last.Report

    • Avatar InMD in reply to Joe Sal
      Ignored
      says:

      That’s a substantial part if it and it’s also what we get for couching so many political debates in the language of victim-hood instead of rationality. When being able to characterize oneself as a victim is a shortcut to power we shouldn’t be surprised when the powerful start using it.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to InMD
        Ignored
        says:

        When being able to characterize oneself as a victim is a shortcut to power we shouldn’t be surprised when the powerful start using it.

        I’d agree wholeheartedly and add that we should not be surprised when they’re better at wielding it than those not used to wielding power at all.Report

        • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          Are the powerful in this case better off, relative to the powerless, than they would have been had we not made victimhood a shortcut to power?Report

          • Avatar InMD in reply to Don Zeko
            Ignored
            says:

            Better off? Who knows. That analysis probably depends a lot on how precisely we want to define the powerless.

            Continuing to keep a nice safe distance from any type of accountability though? Absolutely.Report

            • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to InMD
              Ignored
              says:

              To put a finer point on it, when did we make victimhood a shortcut to power, and in what manner did we do so? As far as I can tell, this either has always been the case, or was a side effect of the larger recognition that discrimination in various forms against racial minorities, women, LGBT folks, etc., are bad and ought to be done away with.

              Which suggests, then, that the ledger has on one side stuff like in this post, and on the other we have the ADA, various massive changes in family law and laws surrounding sexual assault, the civil rights act, Laurence v. Texas, the successful marriage equality movement, etc. etc, etc. Looks to me less like avoiding accountability and more like some relatively minor side effects accompanying a vast improvement in the human condition.

              So either I’m misreading your and @jaybird ‘s comments, or this is not the most persuasive brief against whatever broad concept we’re discussing.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Don Zeko
                Ignored
                says:

                Don,
                mostly when the neoliberals decided they needed a nice fancy distraction.
                That and it makes them money. We don’t want to TREAT PTSD, we want to get them service dogs. And addict people to painkillers.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Don Zeko
                Ignored
                says:

                I think it’s always been a rhetorical tactic and my point is that it’s one we should be skeptical of especially when it results in extra protection for some. Every group can come up with some reason they deserve extra protection under the law, merited or not, and that’s the reason I oppose hate crime laws generally. They make the types of laws that are the subject of this post inevitable.

                Regarding your examples I don’t think victimization is the rationale behind most of the changes, even if people were victimized by previous public policy. The rationale is equality before the law, individual autonomy, and keeping the state from invading people’s personal lives. Those are ideas I can get behind.Report

          • Avatar Joe Sal in reply to Don Zeko
            Ignored
            says:

            How does authority use authority, if that is where the power is located.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to InMD
        Ignored
        says:

        When in human history has being able to claim righteous victimhood NOT been a shortcut to power?

        The Holocaust, the Indian Wars, the Inquisition, the Punic Wars…all cases of righteous victimhood claimed by the aggressive power.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to InMD
        Ignored
        says:

        ” When being able to characterize oneself as a victim is a shortcut to power we shouldn’t be surprised when the powerful start using it.”

        It was quite amusing to me how people were honestly confused that Rachel Dolezal would insistent she was black.Report

  12. Avatar Mike Schilling
    Ignored
    says:

    If liberals didn’t call the police racist, they wouldn’t have to kill black teenagers.Report

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