CTV Edmonton reports the case of a man convicted of “inciting racial hatred” when he burned a cross on the lawn of an interracial couple. This is a clear crime, but the crime is trespass and vandalism, not “inciting racial hatred.” Criminalizing some real or imagined scheme behind his criminal actions is not only unnecessary, it sows the seeds for more and more thoughts being banned. This is little different from prosecuting a religious extremist for inciting religious fervor. Moreover, as a friend pointed out, in this day and age, burning a cross does not even incite racial hatred. It generates huge outpourings of goodwill for the victims, and widespread condemnation of the ideology behind the criminal behavior. That reaction has far better effects on race relations than prosecutions for thought crimes.
My former colleague and neighbor Jesse Walker, in the course of an “appreciation” of exiting Sen. Russ Feingold — whom he calls “the Bob Barr of the left” — expresses the briefest note of sadness over the failure of California’s Proposition 19, the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010. I will demur.
Sadness? At a law that, had it passed, would have regulated and taxed the use of a common plant — a lovely weed and an amazing source of industrial fiber as well as widely used herbal remedy? No. All those regulations and taxes would only have skewed the cultivation and marketing of the plant from personal and small-business operations to Big Business. Right now Californians are increasingly cultivating and openly using marijuana. In defiance of the federal government, no less.
But with the initiative, the state would have started cracking down on little producers, and making it harder for small business to provide their customers with the drug. [Keep reading…]