Hate crime

One argument against hate crimes legislation involves denying that one can ever know about someone’s intent. Kathleen Parker writes: >WASHINGTON — The fallacy of hate crime laws — the prosecution of which requires a degree of mind-reading not yet available to most Earthlings — has been cast into stark relief the last few weeks after … Continue reading Hate crime

Slippery McCoy

The very idea of hate crimes laws drives some people deeply into the forest of confusion, where they forget that speech and belief is punished all of the time, and that doing so is not some kind of violation of one's constitutional rights.  One's constitutional rights have some common sense limits: I cannot shout "fire" … Continue reading Slippery McCoy

Diminished mental capacity

Kathleen Parker concern trolls on behalf of homophobic Christian ministers: When whites lynched blacks with the tacit approval of the state, the entire African American community was terrorized. No one can pretend otherwise. It is this immeasurable horror that hate-crimes laws attempt to address by adding another layer of punishment to the primary crime. What … Continue reading Diminished mental capacity

Words can never hurt me

Intentions, as I think we’ve often mentioned here, are notoriously hard to judge. It’s not, however, obviously impossible. Jose Padilla, the “dirty bomber,” was just convicted for wanting to do something. Many of the same people who claim its impossible to judge psychological states (when it comes to, I don’t know, hate crimes) nonetheless celebrate … Continue reading Words can never hurt me

Actus reus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea

A few weeks ago the Chicago Tribune ran a story entitled, “What is a Hate Crime?” The story was so bad the public editor condemned it and expressed bafflement that such an experienced reporter could have written it. Aside from the fact that the story didn’t bother to address the legal meaning of the term … Continue reading Actus reus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea

Evangelium vitae

It's Easter, so let's marvel at the ever so subtle Scholastic reasoning of some Catholic, former Republican public servant and Notre Dame alumnus regarding whether Barack O'Bama should be given an honorary degree by Our Lady of the Lake.  Writing on the op-ed page of the New York Times, he says: What’s more, it’s important … Continue reading Evangelium vitae

Judgment at C-Span

I saw an interesting film last night–Judgment at Nuremberg–In case you haven't seen it, you should.  As the title suggests, the film deals with the war crimes of the Nazis–but in particular the criminal complicity of lower level Nazi judges who participated in the legal machinations of the Nazi regime. On a related theme, Kathleen … Continue reading Judgment at C-Span

With or Without Yoo

Two interesting quotations from Ruth Marcus’s Washington Post column–One pro John Yoo, tortured torture memo writer, one contra.  The first one, from Columbia University law Professor Scott Horton, addresses someone (Elder) who does not find Yoo’s legal work grounds for discipline or revocation of his tenure at Berkeley.  He says that Elder "is appropriately concerned … Continue reading With or Without Yoo


I’ve never understood the argument occasionally advanced that having moral concern for animals makes a person “anti-human.” Even considering the cases where an animal’s significant interests directly conflict with human significant interests, if one were to conclude that the animals interests trumped the human interest this would not it seems provide evidence for some diminished … Continue reading Hypocrites!!!


Empirical generalizations are a matter of common sense, and, yes, generality. Most people know that one counter example is not enough to render it false. Most people. Most people also know, by way of generalization, that general rules are bound to be interpreted in surprising ways some of the time. That’s no surprise. Since the … Continue reading Demonstration