“Is the accuser always holy now? Were they born this morning as clean as God’s fingers?” Arthur Miller, The Crucible
The biggest problem with hate crime accusations is that they are completely subjective. Whenever anyone claims that a hate crime has been committed, all that means is that they perceive that a hate crime has been committed. There’s no objective standard, no uniform physical sign that constitutes an undeniable smoking gun.
How could something so nebulous NOT end up getting abused for political gain?
Consider the current furor over the Rutgers student who has just been convicted of a hate crime even though there’s no actual evidence that he “hated” the victim, personally or publicly. The degree to which he may have exposed his roommate’s sexuality or may have influenced his roommate’s suicide is actually impossible to discern and irrelevant anyway, because in the absence of certainty, he should have been found not guilty.
But in our current social climate, if you’re accused of hate, “innocent until proven guilty” is gone, and you’re toast as soon as the accusation is made. After all, how often are people accused of hate crimes and then exonerated? How can our society function when privileged classes of accusers get to have the weight and force of law behind their every perceived grievance?
Just like in The Crucible, where the village fell apart because everyone ended up living in fear that “the harlot’s cry would end his life.”
[Incidentally, I wrote about this case when it started a year and a half ago, and warned that zealous over-prosecution of hate crimes would lead to more violence.]