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FREE SPEECH: Hate crime = thought crime

| July 3, 2024 1:00 AM

Yesterday, Coeur d’Alene’s mayor and city council debated whether they should create a new category of municipal crime: “Hate Crime.”   

When anyone’s rights are restricted, everyone’s rights are diminished.  While a person’s actions should rightly be subject to law, a person’s motivations should not.   

“Hate Crime” laws place motives under legal scrutiny.  Advocates contend that a person who beats a victim while shouting racist epithets is guilty of a fundamentally different crime than a person who beats a victim for adulterously sleeping with his wife. 

The crime in both examples is assault. Such violence has been deemed criminal since at least Hammurabi’s Code. 

City leaders are overreacting to a couple of recent incidences, when racist slurs were allegedly shouted at pedestrians by cowardly thugs who were driving past them in cars. Restricting free speech will not end bigotry. 

 Free speech is indispensable for the preservation of liberty. It exists to protect the expression of everyone; even racists, sexists, homophobes, Satanists, Klansmen, Communists, anarchists, Islamists, and any other iteration of cringe, fringe, conspiracy cultist.   

Free speech exists to allow any one of us to express our convictions, no matter how offensive and even bizarre they may be. If extremists do not have free speech, then none of us do! 

RALPH K. GINORIO 

Coeur d’Alene