'Hate crime' laws originated with Joseph Stalin.
July 15, 2007
Concerning Senate rider SA 2067 and its basis in Soviet criminal code 59-7
Dear Senator Boxer,
I am not exactly clear where you stand on the Iraq War, but to the extent it seems you want us out of this fiasco, I appreciate your stand.
The point of this letter however concerns Senate rider SA 2067, which some people want to attach to a defense spending bill. I see this rider as an attack on the right of free speech. It will not only add penalties for a limited and select group of crimes, called “hate crimes,” it will intimidate free speech itself as an underlying side-effect, if not goal. As to its selectivity, I see no reason why privileged groups should receive the benefit of a law like this while sexually assaulted girls and women, for example, do not. It is special-interest law at its worst, and I hope you will oppose it vigorously.
Free speech is an American treasure. Not all countries have it, even in the modern age. Are we to slip back into a new form of censorship and repression of thought and speech? I hope not, but evidently some people would like to see that happen.
Moreover, laws like this have roots in the very worst form of society ever invented. As I understand it, few people know this, but the criminal codes under Stalin contained a law very much like SA 2067 and its predecessors. Article 59-7 of the 1934 Criminal Code of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic reads as follows:
“Propaganda or agitation, directed toward arousing national or religious enmity or discord, or likewise the dissemination or preparation and storage of literature of the same character, shall be punishable by — deprivation of freedom for a term up to two years.*
“The same activity in time of war, or during mass disorders shall be punishable by — deprivation of freedom for a term not less than two years, with confiscation of all or part of property, with increase, under especially aggravated circumstances, up to the supreme measure of social defense — shooting, with confiscation of property.”
We do not want a backdoor version of the Soviet Union introduced here, in either whole or part. SA 2067 would introduce the “propaganda or agitation” element of Soviet law into U.S. law by attaching it to other crimes, crimes which already usually lead to serious penal measures. I am sure you can see the potential for repression in such law, and what was the Soviet Union if not a model of repression?
It is better for people to work out their differences in the public arena of ideas, and punish only crimes, not the thought that may accompany crimes. People sometimes forget that freedom of thought and speech is a civil right also, and essential to a functioning democracy. The importance of protecting this right is especially true considering the scope given in our democracy to what the founders called “factions,” those interested only in their own welfare, power, wealth and advancement.
Once again, I also see no reason why the victims of rape and murder – as if the “thoughts” behind those acts are not equally malign – should receive no special dispensation (and not only them) while a few privileged groups would benefit directly if such a law were enacted. Any serious crime already has dark motives, not just those selected in SA 2067.
Please vote accordingly on this and all related legislation.
* Europe currently has 'anti hate' laws on the books which are nearly direct composites of the 1934 Criminal Code of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic, Article 59-7, with a correspondingly high number of non-violent prisoners presently incarcerated.