Rude, but give this a full listen and tell me if he isn’t right about there being nothing productive to conversations like these. Either you accept the theory of hate crimes or you don’t. If you do then Hooper’s basic point is clear, albeit unconvincing: he considers what Shmulevich did a tacit threat (in his words, an “act of intimidation”) and threats aren’t protected speech. That’s why Wilkow’s comparison between the Koran in the crapper and the crucifix in urine doesn’t wash. If I wave a knife at you and tell you I’m going to kill you and then get up on stage at a coffee house on open mic night and do the same thing, one’s a crime and the other isn’t. The only difference is my intention, but it’s a huge difference. The flag-burning example doesn’t work either because hate crimes are explicitly aimed at protecting “vulnerable” minorities. Americans are a majority and thus aren’t “vulnerable;” so are Christians, in theory, although trying to discriminate among faiths would be a huge headache for the legislature and likely unconstitutional which is why they make the statute apply to all faiths. If you’re wondering why hate-crime statutes are enforced more often to protect minority religions notwithstanding the political power of American Christian organizations, that’s assuredly a big reason.

If you don’t accept the theory of hate crimes then you’ve got two options, either challenging the theory or accepting it for argument’s sake and challenging whether a hate crime was committed in this particular instance. Wilkow sticks with the latter for the most part, asking Hooper “where’s the harm?” to the Muslim community when the only victim of an actual crime was Pace. In essence, what Hooper’s trying to do is formulate two separate crimes to two separate entities in this one act of Koran-flushing: the criminal mischief committed against Pace in the destruction of the book and a separate crime of threatening the Muslim community. In that case, though, the cops should simply charge him with those two separate offenses, not try to “meld” them into one unified hate-crimes charge. I wonder if they were thinking about doing that initially; that would explain why some papers reported that he’d been charged with criminal mischief and a separate count of aggravated harassment. Oh well.

Thanks a lot to Andrew’s producer, Nick Rizzuto, for hooking us up with the audio.