Have your lawyer on standby and get ready to call your bail bondsman as Utah attempts to take the first steps toward policing thought once again. The Victim Targeting Penalty Enhancements Bill seeks to enforce harsher penalties if the offender is proven to have acted based on the victim’s race, disability, ethnicity, sexuality, national origin, or religion.
Burden of Evidence
Unless the justice system can read minds, hate crimes are all but impossible to prove. If a suspect does not keep a detailed record of his thoughts and prejudices or unless the suspect confesses, what that individual was thinking at the exact time of the crime cannot be proven.
Even with the best of evidence, the justice system can merely assume an individual’s thoughts — one that they can’t prove beyond reasonable doubt. Harsher penalties for targeting certain protected classes are also very dangerous since Utah’s cyber-bullying laws are already vague and all-encompassing. Although the bill specifically said that it would not affect a person’s right to free speech, once partnered with Utah’s cyber-bullying laws and an easily offended base, this could have a spiraling effect on policing speech.
What Constitutes as Hate?
Is misgendering someone considered hate? Many would say yes, but that is entirely a political position. Should the law be partial to a specific political position? Will disagreeing be considered hate speech? A British feminist was jailed for saying men are not women; such an incident should never happen in the U.S. Multiple social media platforms are already taking political stances regarding what constitutes hate — even when it comes to speech. The State should never pass laws that would allow any political stance to change existing laws or influence what can be considered criminal violations.
Let the UK Serve as an Example
The UK is actively policing thought. The police will come at your door if you post something on social media that the government does not consider appropriate. The government dictates what can be posted online and merely disagreeing with certain protected classes is considered hateful. Everything is being censored. Comedy needs to be sanitized and made to toe the line of political correctness.
Liking a post, sharing an article, commenting on a joke — these can all get you a trip to jail. It took more than five years for this situation to happen. It was in 2012 when the UK began hearings for legislation that would give the state power to decide what constitutes as hate. From there, it fell into a slippery slope — to now, when teaching a pug to do the Nazi salute will land you in jail. It all started with legislation that gave the courts the power to decide what constitutes hate. That same legislation is now in Utah.
The government should never be given the power to decide what constitutes as hate nor to assume what’s inside a person’s mind. Natural discourse is impossible without one side being offended. Disagreeing is not a crime. Policing thought is tantamount to fascism — something the USA fought hard against.