Via Breitbart, a reminder that Britain’s left remains a few steps ahead of America’s in legally sanctioning thoughtcrime. Here in the good ol’ free-market U.S.A., we still prefer economic sanctions for deviating from ruling-class orthodoxy. But give us time. As a much older nation, the UK’s had longer to make “progress.”

There’s a parliamentary election set for 10 days for now so Miliband’s speaking here with an eye to that. I wonder which group he’s hoping to goose into turning out with these remarks — devout Muslims or Britain’s Social Justice Warriors? Frankly, apart from women’s issues and gay rights, there’s probably not much difference between those constituencies anymore.

“We are going to make [Islamophobia] an aggravated crime. We are going to make sure it is marked on people’s records with the police to make sure they root out Islamophobia as a hate crime,” Miliband told the Editor of The Muslim News, Ahmed J Versi in a wide ranging exclusive interview.

“We are going to change the law on this so we make it absolutely clear of our abhorrence of hate crime and Islamophobia. It will be the first time that the police will record Islamophobic attacks right across the country,” he said…

Throughout his interview, Miliband insisted that he took “extreme care” in what he said but it still did not stop him in using the generic term of “Islamist terrorism” and inferring the cause was religious rather than political when suggesting more than once it was based on “perverted ideology.”

When I read the phrase “Islamophobic attacks,” I thought he was describing sentencing enhancements for anti-Muslim hate crimes, not criminalizing hate itself. Multiple U.S. states will punish you more severely if you commit a crime against someone due to prejudice against their race or religion, but they don’t make prejudice itself criminally actionable. If that’s what Miliband means, he’s merely bringing the UK into line with American law. But no, it turns out, he’s going much further than that. What he’s proposing is amending the UK’s Racial and Religious Hatred Act of 2006, which already makes it a crime (punishable by up to seven years in prison!) to “incite hatred” against someone on racial and religious grounds, in order to increase the penalties even further. By “Islamophobic attacks,” he presumably means rhetorical “attacks,” not actual assault. Ask yourself: If you’re already facing seven years in the pen for “inciting hatred,” how much less likely are you to engage in incitement if the penalty is boosted to, say, 15 years? The marginal deterrence in increasing the punishment here is near zero, but then that’s not really what a pander like this is aimed at. This is Miliband’s way of showing core Labour voting blocs that he’s on their side, whether or not his proposal will really do anything for them. Who knows? If Labour falls short of a parliamentary majority again because Muslims and leftists didn’t turn out, maybe he’ll propose making Islamophobia punishable by life in prison to really get their attention. What’s a few political prisoners if it means restoring Labour to power?

As I say, in the U.S. our elites prefer to punish throughtcrimes like “Islamophobia” with boycotts, even if it means taking a dump on the graves of people braver than they are:

The decision by PEN American Center to give its annual Freedom of Expression Courage award to the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo has prompted six writers to withdraw as literary hosts at the group’s annual gala on May 5, adding a new twist to the continuing debate over the publication’s status as a martyr for free speech…

In an essay for The New Yorker’s website after the attack, [Teju] Cole noted that the magazine claimed to offend all parties, but in fact in recent years “has gone specifically for racist and Islamophobic provocations.”…

“What I question is what PEN is hoping to convey by awarding a magazine that has become famous both for the horrible murder of staff members by Muslim extremists and for its denigrating portrayals of Muslims,” [Deborah Eisenberg] said.

Surely these people realize that Charlie Hebdo is a left-wing satirical magazine. Presumably they know that its murdered editor, Stephane Charbonnier, just had a book published posthumously defending French Muslims as scapegoats for the country’s economic problems. The magazine goofed on Mohammed not because they have some special quarrel with Islam but because they couldn’t abide being told that was forbidden in a country that claims to protect free speech. If Cole and Eisenberg still have a problem with the magazine after all that, it’s not because they question Charlie’s motives, it’s because they think satire involving Muslims is impermissible even when those motives are pure. Said Salman Rushdie in response, “If PEN as a free speech organization can’t defend and celebrate people who have been murdered for drawing pictures, then frankly the organization is not worth the name.”

Via the Free Beacon, here’s former satirical all-star Garry Trudeau claiming that it was Charlie Hebdo, not two jihadis with machine guns, who “brought a world of pain to France” and noting carefully that he’d never draw an image of “the prophet” himself. We’re not where Miliband is yet, but we’ll get there. Bank on it.