The 6th Circuit, in a case involving an assault on an Amish man by various members of his community because he didn’t conform to their standards, came to the right answer, but then it did the wrong thing with its answer.
The assaulters were convicted of their assault, with the crime and the conviction treated by the prosecutor and the trial court as a hate crime. The Circuit Court ruled, though,
Personal conflict, not religion, was the driving motive behind beard- and hair-cutting attacks targeting Amish, an appeals court panel ruled Wednesday in overturning the hate-crime convictions of 16 men and women.
This is good, because our crimes don’t need to be gussied up with froo-froo, and adding “hate” to the definition of a crime in order to create a new crime is such froo-froo. When we criminalize hate, we criminalize the contents of a man’s mind—and that’s no thing a government should be involved with. Full stop. All that needs criminalization—if anything—is the actual deed done. Our thoughts must be beyond government’s reach, no matter the good intentions in trying to go that far.
But the ruling is bad because it overturned the convictions altogether, rather than remanding the case for resentencing. That the men were convicted of a crime with a motivation means the men were convicted of a crime.
Now the victims must consider reliving those events in a new trial, and that’s also bad.
The 6th Circuit’s opinion can be read here.