In George Orwell’s classic novel 1984, thoughtcrime are thoughts not approved by The Party. In modern America we have the same concept called “hate crimes.” If someone commits a crime motivated by bias against a “protected class”, there are tougher penalties than an ordinary crime.
Like every other state and the Federal government, Louisiana has hate crime laws. The Louisiana Legislature has already voted to expand them to include police officers and first responders. HB 953 by State Rep. Lance Harris has passed both the House and Senate and Governor John Bel Edwards will sign it. Louisiana would be the first state to classify cop attacks as hate crimes.
The “Blue Lives Matter” bill and is meant to be a slap in the face to the “Black Lives Matter” movement. “Black Lives Matter” protests what they consider police brutality and mistreatment of blacks. Opponents of “Black Lives Matter” claim they’re anti-cop in general.
Lance Harris told CNN he was motivated to bring the bill in response to an attack on a cop in Texas last year.
State Rep. Lance Harris authored HB 953 after Darren Goforth, a Texas sheriff’s deputy, was ambushed, shot and killed while in uniform last August.“It looked like it was strictly done because someone didn’t like police officers, like a hate crime,” Harris said, adding that including officers and first-responders to the hate-crime statute made sense because the existing law already is broad, covering attacks because of the victim’s race or gender or affiliation with certain organizations.
“In the news, you see a lot of people terrorizing and threatening police officers on social media just due to the fact that they are policemen. Now, this (new law) protects police and first-responders under the hate-crime law,” Harris said, adding that he considers legislative action necessary because the crime is “done strictly out of hate for the officer and his uniform.”“I certainly do think there is a need for it. If you’re going to have an extensive hate crime statute then we need to protect those that are out there protecting us on a daily basis,” Harris said. “There is a concerted effort in some areas to terrorize and attack police and I think this will go forward and stop that.”
A statement from the New Orleans chapter of Black Youth Project 100 called the bill “an insidious attempt to destabilize our First Amendment rights as community members who hold the police, and others sworn by oath to serve and protect, accountable.”
“We have to stop this malicious trend before it starts — we cannot allow the gains of the civil rights movement to be squandered away by police officers scrambling to avoid criticism from their constituents,” said Savannah Shange, of Black Youth Project 100 New Orleans.
Black Youth Project 100 New Orleans are absolutely right. Hate crime laws are thoughtcrimes. They should be repealed. We should punish actions, not the thoughts that motivate them.
Louisiana already enhances penalties for those who attack police officers in the line of the duty. That is appropriate because the police maintain order and should not be obstructed in their important job. Those enhancements punish actions, not thought. The “Blue Lives Matter” bill is unnecessary.
While this bill may make political sense from the standpoint of throwing out cheap populism to divide the Democratic Party’s base, it doesn’t make this bill wise. We believe in punishing actions, not thought. Hate crime laws punish thought and should be repealed by conservative lawmakers, not expanded.