We’re not even a full week into the 2018 legislative session, and we already have some good news. Two bills dealing with "hate crimes" were defeated in the Senate Courts of Justice committee yesterday. One of them, Senate Bill 112, would have introduced the dangerous concepts of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” into the Code, while also making it easier for providers of interactive computer services (like Facebook) to censor anything that it or other users considers to be “inciting hatred” towards people with those characteristics.  

If you’re not familiar with them, a "hate crime" is a special category of criminal act where the act is shown to be motivated by certain kinds of thoughts and feelings towards the victim. If the “hate” was inspired by or directed at one of the items on the government’s list, then you’re guilty of an additional crime – a “hate crime.”

This means that a person could be subject to a separate criminal penalty, including jail time, not for the act they committed, but for their thoughts and opinions. In Virginia, conviction of a hate crime carries with it a “mandatory minimum” of 30 days in jail.

One can clearly see the slippery slope created by this sort of “thought crime”. What sort of thoughts, values, or motivations might the state try to criminalize next?

Regardless of the motivation for victimizing another person – whether based on someone’s sex, age, disability, veteran status, race, religion, “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” etc. – a person should be punished for the crime they commit and not because of the kind of hatred they felt in doing so, even if we all find their particular motive reprehensible.