Monday, July 15, 2013

Double, Triple, Quadruple Jeopardy?

by Bill Holmes

I am sad that 17 year old Trayvon Martin is dead. I have no idea whether George Zimmerman is really guilty or not. Only he and Trayvon know for sure. I do know that Zimmerman was found "Not Guilty" by a jury after a legal trial. Prosecutors and defense attorneys both had equal opportunity to convince the six jurors. I think that should be the end of it.

This crap about a civil suit or a federal hate crime or civil rights crime bothers me. I don't think prosecutors or personal injury lawyers should get an unlimited number of chances to get a conviction or money judgement. Maybe the double jeopardy laws need updating.

I'm not a fan of so called "Hate Crimes". It is not a crime to hate someone or a group. If it were, most of us would be in jail. If you act on that hate to do harm to that someone or group there are already other laws on the books to handle that. Often the hate crimes are just adding a "hate" component to an existing crime. If you beat up your ex-boss, who you hate, because he fired you that might get you one year in jail for aggravated assault. If you beat up the same guy because he's gay you might get five years in jail for committing a hate crime. Same two people involved, same damage done, same injuries but different sentences.

All these hate crimes laws are arbitrary. They don't cover all hate. They cover politically incorrect hate or the cause du jour. You can hate your ex-wife, your mother-in-law, your noisy neighbor, your boss, Democrats or Republicans, pro-life or pro-choice people, the Kardashians and any number of other individuals or groups. You can even hate members of protected groups, just not for the reason they are protected.

I predict that George Zimmerman will be fighting legal battles for the foreseeable future. He will also be in hiding and require security so that someone who hates him doesn't kill him. That by the way would not be a hate crime. How does he ever get a job to pay for all this?

I'm not a Zimmerman supporter. He sounds like a Barney Fife wannabe. He probably wrongfully initiate the confrontation with Trayvon Martin. That still doesn't mean that he didn't act in self-defense once the encounter began. He might even hate Blacks. Then again, Martin may have hated white fake police officers.

My point is that a crime should be punishable for the act itself, not the thoughts behind it. Any time the government bases laws on thoughts we are in trouble. I do not trust our government to police my thoughts. They already monitor our phones and computers. That's way too much. The winds of what's acceptable thought change often. With the exception of the Anglo-Saxon Protestants, every ethnic and racial group has been discriminated against at one time in this country. Soon many of the majorities will be minorities. Will hate crimes apply to old white guys when they become a minority.

It's sad that we have so much distrust of our justice system that a verdict is not the end but just the beginning. This is particularly true when Blacks and whites are involved. A few years ago many were outraged at the O. J. Simpson verdict. Today many are outraged at the Zimmerman verdict. Just like then, we apparently now move on to civil court. Zimmerman and the prosecutors had their day in court. He won, game over. No redo in federal or civil court.

Is this double or triple jeopardy? I think so. What do you think?


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