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Sunday, October 28, 2018

Quote of the Day


"The mailings of pipe bombs, and similar activities, have been described as hate crimes. Is that what makes them bad — the hatred? Or is it the way the hatred is expressed?
Might it be okay, for instance, to mail pipe bombs randomly, to people you do not hate, indeed, don’t even know?"
-- David Warren

26 comments:

  1. TOF,

    There's an historical reason why hate crimes were given that designation. Besides, do we normally send pipe bombs to our loved ones? One could argue that the hatred and expression of hatred make sending pipe bombs bad, especially when the hatred and expression of hatred are closely intertwined. Is it bad to hate your brother or express hatred for your brother?

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    1. It's hard to imagine most crimes without an element of hate. Except for killers-for-hire, murderers do not generally love the folks they kill. The conundrum is not whether an act is 'bad crime' but what makes it a hate crime. Did the Las Vegas shooter hate country music fans? What of the guy who shot up the Republican baseball team simply because they were Republicans? We never heard that described as a hate crime.

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    2. Yes, double-speak to indicate that their motive is even worse than normal motives to harm others.

      Because, per the reasoning, Matthew Shepherd's death is less horrific and wrong when you know it was done by one of his drug-dealers with whom he'd been physically intimate, rather than because that man hated homosexuals.

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  2. Well, deducing from the assumptions one picks up from the many crime shows on TV, when a man/woman fetches up murdered, the wife/husband/significant other/paramour is the police's first suspect. So I guess the law prefers you murder people you love (or used to) rather than those you hate for unapproved reasons.

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    1. Domestic conflict of some type is the main killer of people who aren't connected to criminal enterprises, IIRC.

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    2. That last part is quite important, since homicide is extremely unusual in the US when you don't have a connection to crime.

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  3. Drug dealing doesn't necessarily have to be motivated by hate; it can be about survival or greed. Prostitution might be motivated by the same thing. The Las Vegas shooter might not have hated country fans specifically, but do you think he loved those people he was shooting? The guy shooting Republicans obviously did not have love for them as he made clear. Why not view that as a hate crime?

    Was the synagogue shooting a hate crime? How about the Charleston shooting? What about the lynching of blacks from days of yore?

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    1. Actually "hate crimes" should be called "bigotry atrocities", if we need a separate legal category for them, because the definition is actually that they be motivated by that, not "hate".

      The Vegas shooter seems to have been motivated by undifferentiated nihilism, which is hate but not bigotry. The guy who shot Scalise was purely politically motivated, hate but not bigotry again—he wasn't acting out of animus against Italian-Americans, men, etc.

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    2. Why? Why should we single out the bigots, as if the other motives were more charming?

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    3. As Sparta said to Philip of Macedon, "if". If we're going to have a separate legal category for "hate crime" at all, we might as well give it a name that actually describes what we mean.

      Although we always punish the same crime more harshly based on motive, it would actually be irrational not to. Killing someone for seducing your spouse and killing them because of a group they happen to belong to, are two very different crimes.

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    4. Ah, but we already have methods for dealing with crimes committed against someone who wrongs you-- including separating those who acted out of passion from those who got angry and plotted it out.

      Less motive than mitigating factor...and if someone has a burning, irrational hatred of a group, then that should probably be a mitigating factor, if we were going to consider it at all. Not because their anger is just, but because their judgement is impaired.

      Problem with "bigot" is that it's largely focused on different beliefs, with race only being secondary-- so Bike-lock Professor "protester" would have to be charged with a Bigotry Crime.

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    5. "If" is what is known in linguistics as an irrealis mood, usually either the subjunctive or the conditional. (When Sparta replied to Philip of Macedon with the single word "if", they were throwing his ultimatum back in his face with the economy of expression that Laconia was famous for.)

      Granting for the sake of argument that such a separate category is necessary—which I never said was the case—it ought to be named accurately. And while we don't actually need said separate category, and there are several reasons that having it is counterproductive, it actually makes perfect sense to punish bigots (which might very well include political chauvinists, though good luck getting that enforced fairly) more harshly than people with less contemptible motives. Like drunkenness, bigotry is a type of irrationality that compounds rather than mitigating guilt.

      The real issue is how selective we are about types of bigotry. E.g. in modern America open Klan-style hatred of Catholics and Slavic people are 100% socially acceptable, in many circles.

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    6. It was understood, even if the gift of being concise is not mine-- the issue was with the second part. (I took the "if" to be elegantly pointed, although now I also know where folks are lifting from when they have the threatened king say "if" and glare.)

      In support of your final observation-- we can look at attempts to forbid Catholics from judicial roles for being observant Catholics. "The spirit lives loudly in you," indeed. (Harrumph.)

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  4. Don't call cops Nazis when you get arrested. It's a hate crime.
    https://theappeal.org/a-black-man-called-the-cops-nazis-and-was-charged-with-a-hate-crime/

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    1. Well, if it's hateful to call members of one group a rude and/or false term, then the law has to make it illegal to call members of other groups by a rude and/or false term.

      Otherwise it's invalid.

      Even according to the guy's defenders, he used "racially charged" names (not just Nazi, but gestapo and more) to express his displeasure at being arrested for theft-- that means that you've got to act the same way you would if his target had been black, or Asian, Hispanic or any other identified group.

      If expression of racial animus isn't enough, it has to be from a specific group and against limited subgroups, then it's not actually a hate law. It's a specific-sub-group-privilege law.

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    2. Only if you believe in the equal protection of the law.

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    3. Thank God we're in America, where IT believes in YOU!

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  5. Mr. Flynn,

    I was curious to know if you have an email for discussions with anyone from the public. I’ve taken interest in your blog due to your knowledge of philosophy and stats. As opposed to dropping questions here, do you have another, preferred way to reach you?

    Frankly, I’m still trying to wrap my head around Aristotle’s definition of change, and why more modern philosophers disagree with it.

    All the best with your recovery!

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    1. For the time being,I'm in home therapy and not too up for such confabs. I don't know much why modern philosophers don't accept Aristotle's idea of motion except that Moderns take motion as given and don't try to define it.

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    2. I understand. I’m a college student in California and have yet to hear a good argument for Aristotle’s “physics” outside of your writing and that of Ed Feser. Being that I’m not a Catholic, I also find your knowledge of Aquinas remarkable, and would like to pick your brain on the subject when you are up for it. Take care!

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    3. His physics was partly wrong (unless you regard it as describing motion in a plenum, in which case it is largely right) but his metaphysics has only been denounced, not disproven. And it is in the metaphysics when concepts like Being and Motion and the like are discussed. Meanwhile, you could go here and search on the term "motion." https://thomism.wordpress.com/2015/01/03/definition-of-motion/

      That will pick up posts containing the word "emotion," but a) you can skip those if you like or b) ponder why "emotion" is "e-motion."

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    4. On the topic of Aristotle's physics, this article often comes up: “Aristotle's Physics: a Physicist's Look” https://arxiv.org/abs/1312.4057

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    5. I recently discovered that Aristotelian metaphysics is involved in computer programming—a "class", in the programming-language Python, basically doesn't exist until it's instantiated in an object. That's basically mitigated realism.

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  6. Hate to disagree with The O'Floinn himself, but I think you're wrong to say Aristotle only discusses motion in Metaphysics. Isn't *most* of Physics dealing with change/motion? Bk. II, III, and V seem to all either deal with motion/change or are direct discussions of motion/change.

    We might call these conversations "metaphysical" now, but causation, motion, and substance all come up in his Physics. Seems like Aristotle's Physics and Metaphysics do not mirror the modern distinction between Science and Philosophy.

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    1. Aristotle wrote about what motion IS in the Metaphysics. In the Physics, he builds on that. In Modern physics, motion is simply taken for granted and they seek to explain it. It is a special case, however, as motion to Aristotle meant actualizing a potential, so a ripening apple is in motion (from green to red) and a kitten is in motion (toward cat).

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    2. Thanks for the reply! And I completely concede your definition of motion in Aristotle's sense--and that it differs from Newton's, who seems to only mean "locomotion" when he writes "motion".

      Mine is a far more pedantic argument: I'm saying that the exact discussion and definition of motion that you just offered occurs in Physics (Bk. III), not just in Metaphysics. I'm not at all sure that is matters, but it might if it means that Aristotle's natural science and philosophy are more unified than the grouping "physics" and "metaphysics" suggest. He certainly does not only mean "locomotion" in his Physics.

      But perhaps that's what you meant by "In Physics, he builds on that"? If he's taking his philosophical understanding of motion and applying to the physical world, it makes me wonder if we should read the Metaphysics first instead of it being "After-Physics"?

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