Is the murder of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill a hate crime?
In some ways, that question is an oxymoron, because murder is always a hate crime. It doesn’t matter if we label the deed a “crime of passion” a “thrill murder” or the work of a serial killer, murder is always, at some level a crime of hatred.
Murder is also, always, at a slightly deeper point, an act of self-hatred by the murderer his or herself.
People kill other people by accident. But when they do it deliberately and with forethought, it is the worst single expression of hatred that they can put to action. At the same time, there is no way that anyone can take a human life without also killing a piece of their own humanity. That is one way in which murder is a self-hate crime.
But there is another, more direct, way in which it is a crime of self-hatred. Murderers kill other people to destroy something in that person that reflects a part of themselves, their past, or their rage. They kill a piece of themselves when they kill another person, and they do it in a direct and known-only-to-their-deeper-psyche clear-cut way.
Ted Bundy claimed that he was God when he saw the light of life go out in his victim’s eyes. He was nothing of the sort. He was just a man who was killing a hated part of himself every time he killed. Killing is easy. A child can do it. Children do do it.
What is difficult is life. Living together in love despite our differences is the real challenge to our courage. Cowards kill because killing is easy. Only people of courage and conviction reach across that which divides us and offer a hand.
Which brings us back to the killer in Chapel Hill. He has turned out to be an inconvenient hate killer. If he was an evangelical Christian, the story of his rage would be number one. The drums would be beating, pounding out the message that the hate-filled language of certain news outlets and a certain religion that it has become fashionable to bash and trash was the “cause” of his hatred.
But in this case, the killer is inconvenient in the extreme. He’s not an evangelical Christian. He’s an atheist. What’s more, he’s evidently a follower of the more radical and least civil expressions of the socio-political movements of aggressive/destructive atheism. By that I mean he’s “friended” such fine folks as the Freedom From Religion Foundation and other uncivil religion-bashing hate groups.
I want to pause here and make a simple point. Being an atheist is nothing. You don’t believe in God? Big whoop. That’s your business and nobody cares.
But the socio/political movement which has grown up around the hate tropes of such authors as the so-called Four Horsemen of Atheism is another thing altogether. That is an uncivil, dishonest Christian-bashing, religion-bashing hate movement that feeds its followers a constant line of slanders and personal attacks against those who have the temerity to hold other opinions and think other thoughts.
Did the killer of these three young people commit a hate crime in the legal sense? That is questionable, and will, I am sure, become political.
If the killer was an evangelical Christian, the big “yes” would already be out there in numerous media outlets. But this killer himself is all wrong. The group and the movement that he self-identifies with is the new trendy. And much of the media has itself engaged in Christian bashing and faith bashing.
If these murders are hate crimes, then they are among the enablers.
Which is not to say that anyone killed these three people except the man who pulled the trigger on the gun. He, and he alone is responsible for his actions. On the other hand, despite the fact the he and he alone pulled the trigger those who make money off slander and invective, are responsible for what they do, as well.
Were the murders of three innocent young people in Chapel Hill a hate crime? I think they were. I know they were.
Does this hate crime of murder fit the definition of hate crime under the law? Were these three young people murdered specifically because they were Muslim? Was their death a form of racial/religious execution?
I don’t know.
It certainly was a hate crime, as all murders are. The murderer was a sympathizer with groups that run on hatred. There is a blood red rope of hate that leads from the language and the bashing certain groups employ and the crazy mean brains that take it up.
Aggressive atheists are not alone in this, btw. Our public discourse is ugly to the max these days, and that ugliness comes from every point on the social and political compass.
Every day I delete comments that call other people names and seek to base arguments on personal attacks. If I let them through, they would drag this blog down to the hate-sewer in nothing flat. I also delete comments from people who are obviously — and I mean obviously – mental.
A lot of these people are crazy mean atheists, but certainly not all of them. I delete comments from crazy mean Catholics, crazy mean Muslims, crazy mean pagans, crazy mean right-wingnuts, crazy mean left-wing nuts. I even get comments from unaffiliated crazy means who just want to vent that they hate everybody.
The point is that for every single one of these crazy means, somebody out there on the internet is feeding them. The hate-sewers run deep and swift our society. They’ve become big money and a source of political power. When hate-filled invective and crazy mean collide, it can be dangerous.
It can lead to murder.
I can’t tell other bloggers/writers/politicians how to conduct their public discourse. I can’t edit all the books and vet all the movies and television documentaries that push hate.
But what I can do, I will do. And what I can do is keep this blog above that sewer.
I invite those of you who have had enough of these rageful killings to join me.