Steve Benen has a post up on House Minority Leader John Boehner’s fraught reasoning behind his disapproval of a military spending bill which expands hate-crime protections.
“All violent crimes should be prosecuted vigorously, no matter what the circumstance,” Boehner argued. “The Democrats’ ‘thought crimes’ legislation, however, places a higher value on some lives than others. Republicans believe that all lives are created equal, and should be defended with equal vigilance.”
There’s at least some consistency to the argument. If a bigot violently attacks a victim, Boehner doesn’t care if hatred motivated the crime. It’s a debatable point, but it’s not a ridiculous position.
I understand the point Steve is making here, but I think it’s worth pointing out that this disavowal of “thought crimes” is indeed a ridiculous position when you consider that the American judicial system usually weighs intent of crime far more heavily than pure practical impact. That’s why there are distinctions between murder and manslaughter, or for example, why a defendant can plead insanity. For better or worse, that’s the way the judicial system works.
The real issue here is that Boehner doesn’t think it’s any worse to attack someone for being gay than it is to attack them because you don’t like them.