Editorial: Talking politics should not be ‘hate crime’

Tim Wiederaenders

Tim Wiederaenders

Hate crimes. The two words easily paint a picture – the beating and torture of Matthew Wayne Shepard, who was left to die near Laramie, Wyoming, in 1998. He was a gay student of University of Wyoming.

Another: four black people from Chicago were charged with hate crimes Thursday in connection with a video broadcast live on Facebook that showed a mentally disabled white man being beaten and taunted, threatened with a knife and forced to drink from a toilet, according to the Associated Press.

Finally, police are investigating who was responsible for recently twisting a Menorah outside a Chandler, Arizona, home into the shape of a swastika. The religious symbol made from PVC pipe was displayed in the front yard as part of Hanukkah, the AP reported. No arrests have been made.

Following the Chandler incident, police said the discovery was disturbing but added it wasn’t the place of police to deem an offense as a hate crime. Officials say the hate-crime designation would be an enhancement to be considered when people are sentenced.

Good to know – but, coupled with what a state lawmaker wants, so much more could be designated as hate crimes.

Just imagine the 2016 political season.

Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, according to Capitol Media Services, said he wants to expand laws that allow enhanced penalties for those who attack someone based on things like race and religion … to also include political beliefs.

He got the idea while watching a video on TV “of these two guys beating the crap out of some Trump supporter.”

Kavanagh says it was clear that the reason for the attack was that the victim was supporting Donald Trump.

While he adds “that’s worse than beating somebody up for some other reason,” I think this is getting a little out of hand.

Sad about that beating? Yes, anything like that is bad.

Enhancing the penalty because it was about politics? That’s going too far.

You would have to lock up more than half of Washington, D.C., or anyone in or around any state Legislature.

That’s ridiculous. What’s next?

Consider that some of these things (race, for example) are not in one’s control to change. But political beliefs can evolve, and do change. I know someone who was a Republican decades ago, was a Democrat in 2016, and now says they are independent.

I’d bet their stance(s) have changed too.

Try again, Mr. Kavanagh. As the legislative session begins, please remember to work on and pass bills that will truly help the people of this state.

-- Tim Wiederaenders, The Daily Courier

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Deva1961 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Seriously? He wants to make talking politics a hate crime? Would that standard apply to everyone? Conservative and Liberal alike? Would flying a Trump banner be regarded as wrong, along with me wearing a safety pin? News flash, Mr Kavanagh- freedom of speech is still a thing in this country. I might not like those Trump banners, but damned if I'll sit back and quietly let you legislate them out existence.

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