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Havana in the U.S.A. By: Myles Kantor
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, August 30, 2001

I HATE hate-crimes laws. 

I hate them because they pervert our legal system with an aristocracy of victimhood, and I hate them because they import history’s worst pestilence into my country.  

One of totalitarianism’s many obscenities is the criminalization of thought.  Since an omnipotent regime demands comprehensive authority, no realm can exist external to the State; any degree of autonomy would constitute a subversive immunity from political control.  Therefore, conceptions as well as conduct must be regulated.

In this vein, Fidel Castro proclaimed in 1961, “Dentro de la Revolucion, todo.  Fuera de la Revolucion, nada.” (“Inside the Revolution, everything. Outside the Revolution, nothing.”  This echoes Mussolini’s “Everything within the State, nothing outside the State, and nothing against the State.”)  Pursuant to this totalitarian slogan, every aspect of Cubans’ lives falls under the communist regime’s purview.  Alma Guillermoprieto observes in Looking for History: Dispatches from Latin America:

How much can you say, how closely can you look – even if the dissident before you is your best friend and you basically agree with the concrete points he or she is making – before you find that you have all unawares crossed over to the enemy side?  Seeing becomes a fraught activity, and talking about what one observes can lead to ruinous disillusionment, or jail. 

America in the era of hate crimes is not Communist Cuba, but it is alarming how many Americans mimic Castro’s policies. 

A couple of months ago, I ran into an acquaintance.  In the course of conversation, I apprised her of the human rights Web site I edit (www.FreeEmigration.com).  She then said she had a human rights violation to report: some people had made negative comments about her religious background.  This had violated her “dignity.”

Someone in my neighborhood recently called the police.  When the police are called, one expects it is to report a burglary, an attack – i.e., a crime.  In this instance, the neighbor reported that another neighbor had made “racial slurs.”      

I do not believe these examples are aberrant.  In America today, there is a decidedly un-American trend of criminalizing particular forms of speech considered “hateful” or “intolerant.”  (Leave aside the illogic of promoting tolerance by prohibiting “offensive” speech.)

This repressive behavior derives from the conflation of criminality and offensiveness.  Once acts that aggress and acts that offend are construed synonymously, the Commissar State arises in displacement of freedom.  (It is important to note that censorship is an aggressive act.) 

By criminalizing “hate speech,” America’s PC Leninists have set a precedent for criminalizing any speech.  If racially intolerant speech is verboten, why not ideologically intolerant speech?  A la Castro’s Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, why not establish Committees for the Destruction of Racism?  (“Citizens, report racially insensitive comments to your local committee!”) 

In his First Inaugural Address, Thomas Jefferson prizes “the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”  When it comes to certain errors of opinion or simply expressions of opinion, many Americans would foreclose reason with coercion.  And that isn’t what America is about.

Myles Kantor is a columnist for FrontPageMagazine.com and editor-at-large for Pureplay Press, which publishes books about Cuban history and culture. His e-mail address is myles.kantor@gmail.com.

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