Unless, that is, you subscribe to the the notion that sticks and stones and fists and kicks don’t hurt nearly as much as name-calling. From the N.Y. Daily News, which, like every other newspaper in the country, wouldn’t be covering this garden-variety Florida assault if it were not being labeled a hate crime:
David McKnight, 22, was playing the song “Wasted” by Gucci Mane when, he says, he was confronted by 14-year-old Joshua Lamb, WFTV.com reports. “The argument involved the black male suspect saying, ‘You shouldn’t be listening to rap music because you’re white,’ ” said Palm Bay police spokeswoman Yvonne Martinez. When McKnight, who is Caucasian, refused to turn off the music, Lamb and a group of friends assaulted him. “I couldn’t get away fast enough,” McKnight told WFTV. “One of them spit on me, punched me, knocked me down … I got a couple of kicks in from a couple of them.” McKnight told police Lamb was with at least seven others. “I told him to drop it. I was like, ‘Just drop it, let’s go, there is eight of you and one of me. Just drop it,’ ” McKnight said. “And he says, ‘I’m not dropping anything.’ Bam! [He] punched me.” McKnight did not retaliate and, according to the police report obtained by The Smoking Gun, he “fled before any further battery could take place.” But WFTV reported that he suffered a swollen eye, broken toe, concussion and choke marks around his neck in the fight.
This account raises questions. Why did the reporter use the term “didn’t retaliate” to describe a victim trying to avoid serious harm while being randomly attacked by a gang of young men? Why was only one man charged in the assault?
It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that Joshua Lamb was the only assailant charged because only Joshua Lamb’s assault can be “counted” as a hate crime, also that the other physical attacks on McKnight are being deemed inconsequential precisely because there’s a so-called “hate crime” to trumpet.
That’s the problem with these laws: if you insist that “hate crime” is “worse than other crime,” as our Attorney General is so fond of saying, you’re already half-way to dismissing “non-hate” acts as inconsequential. Thanks to the existence of hate crime laws, the fact that Joshua Lamb said something stupid to a total stranger is officially of more consequence than the fact that he and a gang of his peers ambushed and punched, kicked, and choked a man, sending him to the hospital.
If Lamb had committed the same crime against a black youth, he probably would not face many consequences: the assault, severe as it was, would merely be filed away as one of the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of non-hate crime assaults that largely get dismissed by prosecutors and the juvenile courts.
If Lamb had not uttered some belligerent teenage nonsense while assaulting McKnight, the same would probably occur: a slap on the wrists in juvenile court, at the very most. The New York Post, and virtually every other paper in America, certainly would not be reporting the story. Lamb would not be facing prison time.
And, quite creepily, if McKnight were a female, and Lamb had attacked her while spouting sexist slurs, instead of spouting schoolyard anti-white taunts while attacking a white man, it wouldn’t count as hate . . . though if Lamb had called a male victim “bitch” while kicking him, it might count as anti-gay bias. Hate crime laws inevitably normalize certain types of hate speech in order to promote the “principled opposition” of other types.
So we now have a legal system that — in practice — minimizes crimes like striking and kicking a person while maximizing the consequences for select types of speech. And once you get in the practice of deeming some types of people more important; others things naturally follow, including playing down anything done to the “less important” victims, like normalizing calling a woman “bitch” as you punch her, or normalizing black-on-black crime.
Hate crime laws actually codify prejudice.
Joshua Lamb would have faced no more than a first-degree misdemeanor charge if he had jumped McKnight without expressing his opinion of rap music first. The maximum sentence for this crime in Florida is one year of incarceration or probation (likely the latter, at the very most). Now he faces a possible five years in prison because of an opinion he expressed regarding rap music while incidentally beating a total stranger.
Doesn’t this simply reinforce Lamb’s perception that what he thinks about rap music is the important thing?
Wasted, by Gucci Mane, the song David McKnight was listening to when he was attacked — the song Joshua Lamb felt enough prejudice over to commit a so-called “hate crime” to defend his racial right of ownership — is littered with hateful slurs and degrading references . . . directed at women, of course:
I don’t wear tight jeans like the white boys
But I do get wasted like the white boys
Now I’m looking for a bitch to suck dis almond joy
Said she gotta stop sucking ’cause her jaw’s sore
Gotta bitch on the couch, bitch on the floor . . .
and so on.
How unsurprising. Good thing hating women isn’t ever hate crime. It would simply be impossible to fit it in the headlines.