1. Religion & Spirituality
Scott P. Richert

When Is a Hate Crime Not a Hate Crime?

By August 21, 2012

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As Muslims gathered at a football field on Staten Island, New York, on Sunday, August 19, to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the annual Islamic fasting period of Ramadan, they were greeted with an unwelcome sight: three packages of uncooked bacon, scattered on the ground. This incident, CBS New York reports, is being treated as a hate crime.

Six days earlier, Catholic faithful in St. Louis, Missouri, arrived at St. Mary of Victories Chapel to celebrate Mass. In a small garden outside the church stood a headless statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As the St. Louis Review, the publication of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, reports,

The statue, a "signature" feature of St. Mary of Victories, was vandalized sometime late Aug. 9 or early the next morning -- the head was sliced off and was missing.

But on the morning of August 13, the head was no longer missing. It had been

returned to the bottom of the pedestal, with Satanic inscriptions in red and blood drawn dripping from the corners of Our Lady's mouth to make her look like a vampire.

While St. Louis police are investigating the desecration of the statue,

A police spokesman said there is no indication of a hate crime and that right now it is being treated as a vandalism.

The difference between how the two events are being treated is remarkable. Now, of course, one event happened in New York, and the other in Missouri. still, it is hard to imagine how three packages of bacon scattered on a football field can be considered a hate crime, if chopping the head off of a statue of the Mother of God, and then covering it in satanic symbols and making it look like a vampire, is not.

The very concept of a "hate crime" is problematic at best. The entire point of criminal law is that a crime is an objective offense against a person, group, or the public order. Arrest the perpetrator, establish in court that he committed the deed, and punish him. His reasons for committing the crime are almost entirely irrelevant.

Hate-crimes legislation, however, introduces an arbitrary element into criminal justice. A man who murders another man in the course of a robbery may be guilty of first-degree murder. If the man he kills, however, is of a different race, he may be prosecuted for both first-degree murder and a hate crime. In either case, his victim is just as dead, and the additional charge won't change that fact. What it may do is stir up additional animosities within the community, and lead to the opposite of what criminal law intends: the restoration of public order.

Anyone who has followed the development of hate-crimes legislation in the United States over the past 20 years knows that the concept has been applied unevenly. Had the situations on Staten Island and in St. Louis been reversed, the results would likely have been the same: St. Louis police would probably have treated the bacon incident as a hate crime, while the NYPD would almost certainly have treated the desecration of the statue of the Blessed Virgin as an act of vandalism.

The vandalization of a Christian church is rarely treated as a hate crime; the vandalization of a mosque or a synagogue usually is. Imagine a Jewish congregation arriving at a synagogue for worship to find a portrait of a beloved former rabbi "with Satanic inscriptions in red and blood drawn dripping from the corners of [the rabbi's] mouth to make [him] look like a vampire." Is there any doubt that such an event would be treated as a hate crime, by both the NYPD and the St. Louis police?

The word hate is tossed around today like so many pennies, and it is just about as valuable. Those who stand up for the lives of unborn children are said to hate women; those who defend the traditional definition of marriage are said to hate homosexuals. And perhaps one reason why crimes against Christian churches are so rarely declared "hate crimes" is that the media and politicians so often identify Christianity and Christian moral teachings with hate.

The more the traditional teachings of the Church are declared to flow from "hate," the more likely it is that those who truly hate the traditional teachings of the Church will find justification for attacking the Church. In the name of combating hate, everything can be tolerated—even hatred against Christianity.

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August 21, 2012 at 9:28 am
(1) M Reindl says:

Absolutely brilliant article. What some of us have been saying for quite sometime now. I have yet to hear an explanation as to what the difference is. To me it’s a distinction without difference. Going to send your post to everyone I know.

August 21, 2012 at 1:01 pm
(2) Alwyn D Sa says:

And perhaps one reason why crimes against Christian churches are so rarely declared “hate crimes” is that the media and politicians so often identify Christianity and Christian moral teachings with hate….

Scott, I think its more because Christians are easy target; their religion advocates peace and love, show the other cheek. Besides, no one would dare not declare any miniscule offense against Islam as ‘Hate crime”. The whole of the United States wants to appease the Muslims. What else can you expect when the country is headed by a person who has nothing to do whatsoever with Christianity and has the audacity to declare that America is not a Christian nation!

August 21, 2012 at 1:14 pm
(3) Catherine says:

This most certainly is a hate crime, against Our Blessed Mother, against the Catholic Church, against Christianity as a whole, against Catholics – every one of us.

I believe the reason that the crime against Muslim people was classed as a “Hate Crime” was because, at the time the crime was committed, ‘real, living/breathing people were victimized in THE INSTANT MOMENT’, as it were.

Because the STATUE was the object of aggression, and statues are inanimate objects and they are not PEOPLE, in & of themselves, the crime against the Mother of God – who is not visible in the same way that the Muslim humans were, is considered to be vandalism.

Of course, Our Blessed Mother’s heart is now wounded, as are all of ours. I suggest we each pray a rosary to show our profound love for Mary, & that our prayer be that these satanists’ hearts be softened, to repent.

August 21, 2012 at 1:38 pm
(4) Patti says:

The statue is an object, however the Satanic writings on the statue are in fact no less different than the racist remarks left on the walls of a Baptist church in Belleville, Il. which was vandalized less than a month ago, and is being treated as a hate crime. As I see it, as someone who lives in the greater St. Louis Metro Area, it is Catholics at large who are the bane of the regular public media. I am very glad that the Baptist church incident is being treated appropriately, but will reluctantly suggest that the Mary incident is being treated differently because when compared, it was young white men who were caught in the act by the African-American pastor of the Baptist church.

August 21, 2012 at 5:23 pm
(5) IHK says:

This is a hate crime. Just because we preach forgiveness and compassion does not mean that an act like this should not be labeled a crime. You are absolutely right that if it was any other faith there would be OUTRAGE. We should be getting outraged about our symbols just at the followers of Islam or Judasim.

August 21, 2012 at 5:47 pm
(6) Kirt Higdon says:

The entire legal category of hate crime should be abolished as should such abominations as “protected class” under civil rights legislation. These are simply ways for the rulers to discriminate between those to whom they wish to extend the full protection of the law and those they wish to discriminate against.

August 21, 2012 at 5:52 pm
(7) Kevin Watmough says:

In the Liberal/Marxist anti-Christian Western world today, only Whites can be ‘racist’.

Only White nations are being diluted by immigration from non-White nations, those immigrants are occupying our nations with a view to colonising and exterminating the White Race, either by race-mixing or by outright murder. Whites are not emigrating en masse to Asia or Africa, in fact nations such as China are almost 100% Chinese.

The very term ‘anti-racist’ is a codeword for ‘anti-White’.

August 21, 2012 at 10:20 pm
(8) Yossarian says:

Kevin, you sound just like a racist.

August 21, 2012 at 11:39 pm
(9) Betina says:

Nicely stated Catherine.

August 22, 2012 at 11:03 am
(10) Patti says:

IHK it’s important to remember that unfortunately not all Hate Crimes will be classified as such for one reason or another, in my above reply I mentioned a Baptist church:
In this case it seems to me, and many other Catholics, that it’s not being considered a Hate Crime because it still rings true what the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said, “There are not even 100 people in this country who hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they THINK the Catholic Church to be.”
And somehow that hate is different than Anti-Semitism, Anti-Islamism and the like.

August 24, 2012 at 8:09 pm
(11) Gaiman says:

Only a white Christian man would not realize that there is a threat expressed in a hate crime on the target community.

October 11, 2013 at 10:00 pm
(12) Melanie T says:

I hate to say this but I agree with you in this article. The definition of a “hate” crime depends on perspective. The RCC. Is certainly not trendy, but it has always been the underdog, so to speak.

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