The sixth of June is the anniversary of D-Day, the day, in 1944, when the Allied forces landed on the beach of Normandy and launched the offensive that would liberate Occupied Europe from the forces of Nazi Germany. This year, on that date, something happened in the Upper Canadian city of London, which the government of the Dominion has declared to be an attack of an entirely different sort. That evening a family was waiting to cross at an intersection, when a pickup truck ran into them. One was killed on the spot, three later succumbed to the injuries they had sustained, a fifth was wounded but not fatally.
This would be a horrible occurrence, of course, under any circumstances. It appears, however, that this was not just some terrible mishap where the driver lost control of his truck. It seems to have been deliberate. If this is indeed the case that makes it much worse because a crime is much worse than an accident. I am speaking, obviously, about how the incident as a whole is to be evaluated. The dead and wounded would have been no less dead and wounded in an equally fatal accident.
The London police very quickly announced that they were investigating this as a hate crime. Indeed, the speed in which they made this announcement seems extremely irresponsible when we consider that virtually nothing in the way of evidence corroborating this interpretation of the incident has since been released. This could be explained, perhaps, if the perpetrator, who soon after asked a taxi driver to call the police and thus essentially turned himself in, had confessed to being motivated by hate. If this is the case, however, the police have not yet disclosed it. From the facts that have been disclosed, the only apparent grounds for classifying it as a hate crime are the ethnicity and religion of the victims, who were Muslims and immigrants from Pakistan.
There are many who would say that just as a crime is worse than an accident, so a hate crime is worse than a regular crime. I am not one of those. There are basically two angles from which we can look at the distinction between hate crimes and regular crimes. The first is the angle of motive. Viewed from this angle, the distinction between hate crimes and regular crimes is that the former are motivated by prejudice – racial, religious, sexual, etc.- and the latter are not. The second angle is the angle of the victim. Viewed from this perspective, the distinction between hate crimes and regular crimes is that the victims of the former are members of racial, religious, or ethnic minorities, women, or something other than heterosexual and cisgender and the victims of the latter are not. Viewed either way, however, the idea that a hate crime is much worse than a regular crime is extremely problematic.
Is it worse to take somebody’s life because you don’t like the colour of his skin than to take his life because you want his wallet?
If we answer this question with yes then we must be prepared to support that answer with a reason. It is difficult to come up with one that can stand up well under cross-examination. One could try arguing, perhaps, that the murder motivated by prejudice is worse than the murder committed in the act of robbing someone on the grounds that whereas prejudice is irrational, wanting someone else’s money if you have desperate need of it yourself, is not. This runs contrary to long-established judicial precedent, however. If a man is so irrational that he is considered to be insane this is grounds for a plea of not guilty in a court of law. Conversely, the man who did not go out intending to kill someone but does so in the act of stealing his wallet can be charged with first-degree murder. This is because his intention to commit the crime of robbery makes it a premeditated act.
Suppose, however, we take the view from the other angle and distinguish between hate crimes and regular crimes based upon the identity of the victims. From this standpoint, the assertion that hate crimes are worse than regular crimes translates into the idea that it is worse commit a crime against members of such-and-such groups than it is to commit crimes against anyone else. Worded that way, is there anyone who would be willing to sign on to such a statement?
The idea that hate crimes ought to be considered worse than regular crimes of the same nature but with other more mundane motivations arises out of the idea that “hate” itself ought to be treated as a crime. The problem with this is that hate, whether in the ordinary sense of the word, or in the rather specialized sense of the word that is employed when discussing “hate speech”, “hate crimes”, “hate groups”, etc. is an attitude of the heart and mind. To say that “hate” ought to be a crime, therefore, is to say that the government ought to legislate against certain types of thought. This, however, has long been considered one of the distinguishing characteristics of bad government, government that is tyrannical and totalitarian. Those familiar with George Orwell’s 1984 will remember that in the totalitarian state of Oceania there was a special police force tasked with tracking down anyone questioned, disagreed with, or otherwise dissented from the proclamations and ideology of the ruling Ingsoc Party and its leader Big Brother. Such dissenters, including the novel’s protagonist Winston Smith, were regarded as being guilty of crimethink. I’m quite certain that if Eric Blair were alive today he would be reminding us that this was supposed to be an example to avoid rather than one to emulate.
To return from the idea of hate crimes in general and in the abstract, to the specific, concrete, incident of the sixth of the June, the way our politicians and other civil leaders, aided and abetted by media pundits and religious leaders have been behaving is absolutely atrocious. All evidence that has been released to the public to date points in the direction of this Nathaniel Veltman having been a “lone truckman”. Our politicians, however, led by Captain Airhead and his goofy sidekick Jimmy Dhaliwal, but including Upper Canadian Premier Doug Ford and London Mayor Ed Holder, very quickly and very shamelessly politicized the incident and capitalized upon the suffering of the Afzaal family in order to shift the blame off of the actual perpetrator and onto the Canadian public in general with their incessant talk about “Islamophobia”.
Once again Captain Airhead has been demonstrating his total inability to learn from his past mistakes. One might think that the man who after building his political career upon a carefully constructed image as the poster boy for “woke” anti-racism was revealed to be a serial blackface artist would have learned a little humility and would have given up lecturing the Canadian public about how we all need to be more enlightened and less prejudiced. Or that the man whose efforts to use inappropriate political influence to obtain a prosecutorial deal for a company that was a huge donor to his party landed him in the biggest political scandal of his career might have learned that it is not his place to issue proclamations about criminal guilt before the investigation is complete, charges have been laid, and a conviction obtained. One would certainly hope that the man who has long made it a point of never calling acts of violence perpetrated in the name of Islam “terrorism” would not use this word to describe any act of violence committed against Muslims at the first opportunity that presented itself as if he lived in some fantasy world where Muslims could only be victims and never perpetrators of terrorism. Anyone thinking or hoping such things does not know Captain Airhead very well.
The cynical among us would observe first and foremost just how this incident seems tailor-made to fit Captain Airhead’s agenda. Captain Airhead has made no secret of the fact that he wants Canadians to be less free to disagree with him on matters of race, religion, sex, etc. Granted, he doesn’t word it that way, he says that free speech is important but it doesn’t include hate speech. Here is the key to understanding him. Every time someone says “I believe in free speech” or some equivalent statement expressing support for free speech and a “but” immediately follows that statement, everything that follows the “but” negates and nullifies everything that precedes it. Captain Airhead has been trying since the beginning of his premiership to re-introduce laws forbidding Canadians from expressing views that he doesn’t like on the internet. Bill C-10, introduced last fall for the ostensible purpose of bringing companies like Netflix under the same regulatory oversight of the CRTC as traditional broadcasters, has been widely regarded as a means of smuggling this sort of thing in through the back door, and the Liberals numerous attempts to circumvent open debate in the House so as to ram the bill through prior to the summer adjournment have hardly done anything to assuage such suspicions. Captain Airhead was undoubtedly looking for an incident that he could blow out of proportion enabling him to grandstand and basically say, “See, I’m not a creepy little dictator-wannabee, I’m just trying to fight hate like the kind that we saw here”. No, I’m not suggesting that Captain Airhead faked the incident. I would not be surprised to learn, however, that some memorandum had been sent to law enforcement agencies telling them to be on the lookout for anything that could be plausibly spun as a hate crime, and to flag it as such regardless of the evidence or lack thereof.
As for Jimmy Dhaliwal, the less said about his ridiculous assertions that Muslims are living in constant fear of their Islamophobic neighbours in Canada the better. Such nonsense does not deserve the dignity of a response.
By politicizing this incident in this way, Captain Airhead and Jimmy Dhaliwal are, of course, trying to put the Canadian public in general on trial. “It is because you are prejudiced against Muslims” they are saying in effect “that this happened, and so you are to blame for this young man’s actions, and therefore you must be punished by having more of your freedoms of thought, conscience, and speech taken from you”. For years the Left has put the Canada of the past, and her founders and historical figures and heroes on trial over the Indian Residential Schools. It has been the kind of trial where only the prosecution is allowed to present evidence and the defense is not allowed to cross-examine much less present a case of its own. Over the past few weeks this mockery of a trial has been renewed due to the non-news item of the discovery of an unmarked cemetery at the Residential School in Kamloops. The incident in London is now being exploited by the Left to put living Canadians of the present day on the same sort of unjust trial before the same sort of kangaroo court of public opinion.
In 1940 the film “My Little Chickadee” was released which starred the legendary sexpot Mae West and the equally legendary lush W. C. Fields. It was the first – and last – time they would appear together. West and Fields had also written the screenplay, or rather West wrote it with some input from Fields in the rare moments he wasn’t totally sloshed, and there is a scene in it in which some of the dialogue is purportedly taken from West’s own experience of thirteen years earlier, when she had been briefly jailed in New York on the rather Socratic charge of “corrupting the morals of youth” over the Broadway play “Sex” that she had written, produced, directed, and, of course, starred in herself. In the scene in the film, West’s character, Miss Flower Belle Lee finds herself, through the tongue of the character played by Margaret Hamilton, the actress who had portrayed the Wicked Witch of the West the previous year and who seems to have remained in character sans green makeup for this film, appearing before a judge. After one of her trademark flippant remarks, the judge asks her “young lady, are you trying to show your contempt for this court?” Her famous reply was “No, your honour, I’m doing my best to conceal it”.
I trust that you, my readers, will recognize that no such concealment is being attempted here.