Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Posts Tagged ‘Dylan Roof’

Charleston church shooting as gun control propaganda

Posted by sanityinjection on June 19, 2015

Sadly, President Obama lost no time in using the tragedy of the Emanuel AME church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina as propaganda for a renewed assault on the Second Amendment.

The shooter – presumably Dylan Roof – used a gun to murder his victims. According to the President, that means it should be harder for people to get guns. He believes that only hunters and sportsmen should have guns. Oh, and the the federal Department of Education, of course.

Perhaps the President would have been happier if Roof had simply set the church on fire, as white supremacists have done in the past to black churches? Is that form of mass murder healthier for our society? Or shall we place restrictions on purchasing lighters and matches?

The truth is that people who are determined to commit acts of mass murder will do so in any way they can. If they can’t use a gun, they will build a bomb (like the Tsarnaev brothers),  or release poison like the Aum cult did on the Japanese subway. Placing excessive restrictions on one type of weapon won’t stop that. It will, however, defeat the intent of the Founding Fathers to protect individual liberty by ensuring that Americans always have the means to defend their homes and their property from a tyrannical government, and from their fellow citizens when the government cannot or will not help them.

In 1933, a Dutch communist named Marinus van der Lubbe set fire to the parliament, or Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany. The German government – led by Chancellor Adolf Hitler – immediately seized on this act of terrorism to suspend civil liberties and implement mass arrests of their political opponents, including legislators. That left no one to oppose the Nazis when they ended democracy and freedom in Germany by a democratic vote of what was left of the Reichstag. Since then, “Reichstag fire” has become a metaphor for any tragic incident which is then used to cast blame on one’s political opponents.

President Obama is not Adolf Hitler. But he is actively seeking to do what Hitler did – seize upon an act of terrorism in order to assault the civil liberty of law-abiding American citizens – the right to keep and bear arms.

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Charleston church shooting is a hate crime. Should that matter?

Posted by sanityinjection on June 19, 2015

The recent shooting of innocent people at the Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina is a tragedy and an abomination. There can never be any rationale or justification for such an act. The shooter – presumably one Dylan Roof – deserves the death penalty in my opinion. Roof may be tried on federal charges if the Justice Department determines that the shooting constitutes a “hate crime”.

In fact, this incident is pretty much the textbook example of a hate crime – a crime in which the primary motive for the act is hatred toward a particular ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or other protected class. Roof apparently chose his target specifically in order to attack black people in hopes of starting a race war.

Now, just for a moment, let’s imagine that was not the case. Let’s imagine that Roof shot those people for some other reason – he was angry with one of them, or just angry at the world in general and taking it out on innocent people. Absent his racial animosity, this would not be a hate crime. But I ask you, would that make it somehow less heinous? Would that make it less awful for the people who have to figure out how to go on living without their loved ones?

The only difference between a hate crime and any other crime is the ideological motivation of the criminal. But think about what that means: Hate crime legislation criminalizes not the criminal act itself, but the opinions held by the criminal. That is a direct violation of one of the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by our Constitituion: the freedom of conscience, or the freedom to think and hold whatever opinions we choose – no matter how offensive they are to the majority. In fact, it has been argued that you cannot have freedom of speech without first having freedom of conscience.

Should Dylan Roof – assuming he is found guilty of this terrible crime – be subject to additional prosecution on the basis of his racist beliefs? Specifically, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 mandates higher penalties for hate crimes. Should it really matter what he was thinking – or speaking – when he pulled the trigger?

I find racism abhorrent, but I think Roof or any other American has the right to hold such abhorrent beliefs. What he doesn’t have the right to do is shoot people, regardless of whether he dislikes them because they’re black or because their shoelaces are tied a certain way. Trying him for a hate crime is not going to somehow convince other racists to see the error of their ways. In fact, the opposite could be true – by making Roof’s racism the crime, he might become a martyr for white supremacist groups.

I believe South Carolina already allows the death penalty for murder. Let Roof be tried under that statute. Or, if the Feds have to be involved, let them try him for domestic terrorism, which trying to start a race war by murdering innocent people arguably is. But any prosecution under a hate crimes statute – of Roof or any other bigot – is itself an attack on the liberty of all Americans to hold unpopular opinions. When the government can tell us what we are allowed to think, then we are already living in a totalitarian state worse than anything Hitler or Stalin could have imagined in their wildest dreams.

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