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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, February 07, 2019 1:00 am

Too vague a motive

'Hate' reflects bias of labeler as much as perpetrator

Larry M. O'Maley

I appreciated reading David McClamrock's opinion (Jan. 31) supporting the need in Indiana for a new kind of hate-crime bill. As a hate-crime bill, just as affirmative action laws, is not consistent with my basic philosophy, I was glad to challenge my thinking with his well-written opinion.

My philosophy is that nobody should be treated differently, regardless of whether he or she is considered part of any group, or a group treated differently because of the actions of anyone who might be considered part of that group.

We need to treat everyone the same, as we would want to be.

I do understand that while such laws might not be “right” philosophically, it sometimes is necessary, in the interest of best promoting the good for all, to have civil rights laws that provide assistance to legally disadvantaged groups.

I do not know what our legislators should do.

That would require me to better understand hate-crime laws. Perhaps they are additional deterrents, or our judges need more latitude.

But this opinion piece did not convince me that any hate-crime law is needed, and certainly not that the opinions, advocacy and motives of the convicted should be a proper aggravating factor in sentencing.

My first thought is that we already have too many laws telling us how to live our lives.

The problem is that people do not think enough about how to do their job. They do spend too much time worrying about how others are doing theirs.

This is more a moral and religious problem. It will not be solved by another commandment.

Second, I understand that an oft-stated reason for Indiana to pass a hate-crime bill is for us not to be seen as a “hick” state, not in line with more politically correct states.

I feet the same about religious-freedom proposals.

An individual should have the right to conduct his or her life in accordance with his or her conscience.

The government should only interfere with a compelling interest, and in the most minimal way possible.

I am fine if Indiana has to stand alone, as long as it defends liberty and equality for all.

Is it true that hate is a recent human condition and that crimes against humanity are new?

If the commission of these crimes by a few increases the bitterness against a group to which they may belong, whose responsibility is that?

Motive may provide an insight toward determining that a certain person committed a crime.

But that is a long way from imputing a motive such as the crime was a deliberate attack on humanity and equality.

We are too quick to impute motives to others, based on our own biases, for us to use that as a basis for deciding a victim/perpetrator is to be treated differently than any other.

I want to thank Mr. McClamrock for calling me “most extreme” to not be satisfied with the Senate-crafted bill. I often hear much worse regarding my opinions.

Who knows, perhaps he is correct. I hope not.


Larry M. O'Maley is an Allen County resident and a retired actuary.