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Reblogged:Thought-Crime in Belgium

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On the same day that a university let a black-shirted mob shut down a campus debate in Britain, there was a news report out of Belgium about the first man convicted of sexism:

beer.jpg
Belgian beer is excellent. Belgian law, not so much. (Photo by Alexander Mils instagram.com/alexandermils on Unsplash)
He was reported to have said she would be better off doing a job "adapted to women", in a scene witnessed by several other people.

The driver was found guilty of three charges: contempt of a police officer, making threats and sexist remarks in public, and a serious violation of another person's dignity because of her gender. [bold added]
As I noted of "hate crime" way back in '05:
Punishing someone for his beliefs in addition to his actual crime is, in fact, exactly the opposite of what the government should be doing. For example, if someone gets ten years for a crime and has two more added on because he is "guilty" of a "hate crime," he's being jailed two years for his ideas by the government.
No matter the merit or lack thereof of a person's ideas, simply giving voice to them (as opposed to, say committing libel or fraud, or issuing threats) harms no one, and should never be the basis for criminal prosecution. This dangerous precedent should be cause for alarm, rather than marked as "a first" as it apparently is there.

-- CAV

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You are wrong, historically and philosophically.  With few exceptions, all crime involves a "mens rea", a "guilty mind". Without such a mental state, there is no crime.  In America, punishment generally depends on the person's state of mind, as in giving a person a greater sentence when he does not demonstrate remorse for his crime.  Even before "hate crimes", judges often gave harsher sentences for crimes motivated by animus towards individuals or groups.

While you are correct that a person should not be prosecuted based on a mental state, the nature of his punishment properly depends on his mental state.  The reason is that punishment serves two different purposes.  One is restitutive, based on the harm done by the criminal to others.  The other is defensive, based on an estimation of future danger to others of the proven criminal.

It is this latter where mental state plays a necessary role.  The person whose behavior comes from, say, an isolated lapse of control is far less a danger to those around him than one who, for example, believes that predation on others is an appropriate mode of being.  Similarly, a person who commits an assault, motivated by anger toward a particular person is a lesser danger to anyone else than would be a person motivated by hatred toward a large group of people.

So, yes, properly understood, there can be increased punishment based on group hatred, even if group hatred itself is not a proper ground for prosecution.

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The crime is enough, and once proven is sufficiently self-evident of the criminal's frame of mind. No one, especially not the government, can be charged with the responsibility of reading the contents of a person's mind and his emotions, guilt, hatred, remorse (genuine or pretended) are superfluous to Law. The action itself, and personal volition and accountability have to be the only criteria for Justice and for that we need defined, unvarying, objective punishments fitting the crime - applying "extenuating circumstances", most circumspectly.

Edited by whYNOT

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1 hour ago, whYNOT said:

The crime is enough, and once proven is sufficiently self-evident of the criminal's frame of mind.

This is called question begging, and is not an acceptable form of argumentation.  An action is not a crime until there is proof of intention.  Why? See the Objectivist definition of force.

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20 minutes ago, Invictus2017 said:

 

  An action is not a crime until there is proof of intention.  Why? See the Objectivist definition of force.

 

You'll have to quote it for me, I haven't seen an O'ist definition of force refer to or include "proof of intention".

The *motive* for a crime is a matter for the police and courts, in the process of proving guilt.  

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5 hours ago, whYNOT said:

You'll have to quote it for me, I haven't seen an O'ist definition of force refer to or include "proof of intention".

The *motive* for a crime is a matter for the police and courts, in the process of proving guilt.  

A crime require more than proof of intent. As Invictus said, it typically requires proof of malicious intent. Gross negligence is the other possibility. Whether it is a crime or not does not depend on how malicious the intent was. With the classic hate crime, the extra maliciousness influenced the sentence. The Belgium case is different though: because there is no crime, only maliciousness (at most, even though that is debatable too).

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16 hours ago, softwareNerd said:

A crime require more than proof of intent. As Invictus said, it typically requires proof of malicious intent. Gross negligence is the other possibility. Whether it is a crime or not does not depend on how malicious the intent was. With the classic hate crime, the extra maliciousness influenced the sentence. The Belgium case is different though: because there is no crime, only maliciousness (at most, even though that is debatable too).

Yes, but once proven to be of malicious intent -- i.e., a "crime" -- what next? The punishment. That's the stage I was emphasizing. (It has to be said that all "crimes" presuppose a "criminal", presupposing one who acts with deliberate, malicious intent (outside of the borderline areas, e.g., gross negligence, as you rightly state) against a victim's property and/or body).

After proof, the punishment, separating which is the whole point and I am on board with Gus Van Horn that considerations of "hate" crime must be eradicated when applied to the judgment, sentencing etc., of culprits. We have seen this concept disastrously at work for a while, it has only exacerbated irrationality, hatred and prejudices, it has been destructive to people's inter-relations and honest flow of ideas, promoting 'self-censorship' or other mind controls, in generally decent individuals.

"Hate crime" seems legally similar to double indemnity, adding a charge of arbitrary or supposed (mind) malice on top of a charge of real, criminal "malicious intent".

Hate crime begins a slide towards the non-objective rule of men not rule of law, also and above all.

Edited by whYNOT

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What Gus van Horn writes about may be termed a "hate crime", but objectively it is not a crime at all. Everyone has the right to hate. At the next step,  people have the right to express their hatred. (There are "fighting words" situations that should be criminal, but that's the borderline case.)

Next is the case where someone gravely injures someone else: e.g. kills them. Yet, it is not criminal. The law looks to the perpetrator's intent and motivation to judge is their act was within bounds of reason and that the killing was an "accident", or if their acts were unintentional but "criminally negligent", or whether the act was intentional and thus criminal.

Finally, there's the question of penalty for that last category: the criminal. I'm sympathetic to the idea that sentencing can take into account the motivation of the criminal. This does not have to imply non-objectivity, nor slippery slopes.

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3 hours ago, softwareNerd said:

 

Finally, there's the question of penalty for that last category: the criminal. I'm sympathetic to the idea that sentencing can take into account the motivation of the criminal. This does not have to imply non-objectivity, nor slippery slopes.

 

Fair enough, and so am I predisposed to sympathy with taking this into account on passing sentence.

IF - it were not for hate crime's partner (in crime), "hate speech". Now, it appears, freedom of speech can itself be a crime, which can make a criminal of anybody and so, slippery slopes.

The freedom to think, evaluate and have responding emotions such as hate, and to express it verbally is an implicit individual right, fundamental to the concept of rights. Never of course to act physically on such emotion against anyone, as 'emotionalists', by definition, presume one can't avoid doing. 

Edited by whYNOT

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