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.
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