Is this a hate crime, a politically motivated atrocity, both, or neither? Police have four people in custody after a Facebook Live broadcast of the kidnapping and torture of a special-needs man in Chicago, who was physically assaulted and forced to drink from a toilet while being held hostage for as long as 48 hours. Now police and political leaders in Chicago are debating on what to call this:

Chicago investigators are questioning four African-Americans after a Facebook Live video shows a group of people torturing a white mentally disabled man while someone yelled “F*** Trump!” and “F*** white people!”

Chicago police were made aware of the video Tuesday afternoon. A young African American woman streamed the video live on Facebook showing at least four people holding the young white man hostage. …

Throughout the video, the victim is repeatedly kicked and hit, his scalp is cut, all while he is tied up with his mouth taped shut.

At one point, the victim is held at knife point and told to curse President-elect Donald Trump. The group also forces the victim to drink water from a toilet.

The suspects can be heard saying they want the video to go viral.

Well … be careful what you wish for. Your jury pool just might get it.

If we are to have “hate crimes,” then this clearly falls within that classification. The victim appears to have been targeted both for his vulnerability — one of his alleged kidnappers is a classmate — and the rhetoric used more than suggests he was chosen for his ethnicity. The Facebook Live stream shows that the four intended to send a message of hatred, both on the basis of race and politics. In fact, that seems to be the entire point of the attack, to the extent it had one at all. If this doesn’t meet the criteria of a hate crime, then nothing does.

But should we have “hate crimes” at all? Classifying this as a hate crime is to say that the shouted slogans were more of a crime than the kidnapping, the torture, and the selection of a vulnerable man on which to inflict them. Shouldn’t those be the focus of our outrage rather than the barely sentient grunts of the criminals? The label “hate crimes” not only distracts from actual crimes, but it has begun to expand to actions that aren’t crimes at all, such as political statements chalked on sidewalks and the like. It has become a rather predictable tool for silencing debate and dissent from the politically-correct status quo rather than a tool for enforcing actual law.

We have laws against kidnapping and torture, and these four suspects should be prosecuted to the full extent of those laws. Their statements demonstrate their intent to inflict harm on the victim regardless of their political content. That should be enough to toss them behind bars for a very long time. Law enforcement should stick to enforcing laws based on actions, rather than muddle through what qualifies as “hate.”