A reader writes:
A question: I’m wondering how Alec Baldwin’s gross, shitty remarks on Twitter have made you feel about your stance on hate crimes laws. If I am remembering correctly, you are against them on the grounds that they criminalise thoughts and motivations instead of just behavior. At any rate, you’ve now said that Baldwin should be prosecuted for the threats that he made. Fair enough. Threaten people with violence in public, prosecution is just what you may get.
I’m assuming, though, that your revulsion and desire for justice has been influenced by Baldwin’s use of homophobic slurs in those threats. Without them, would the threats be as serious, as deserving of punishment?
Because isn’t that kind of the real argument behind hate crimes legislation? That violence perpetrated against members of marginalized groups specifically because they are marginalized is actually more harmful and more threatening and terrorizing, on purpose, by it’s very nature? For example, arson is one thing (and already illegal), but burning down a black family’s house to terrorize their neighbors and larger community is another – causing ripples of fear and injury and damage just like the damage done (as you point out) to children who are bullied and threatened with language like Baldwin’s daily.
My only reason for seeking legal recourse is that Baldwin publicly threatened a named individual with violence and urged others to commit it – and has not withdrawn that call to beat a man senseless. That’s one reason Stark has closed his own Twitter account to just a few. He’s under physical threat of violence – and Baldwin has not recanted that threat. I’d have the same position regardless of the identity of the target – and would want no further charges than threatening violence against a specific human being. Another reader:
Would you care to compare and contrast your reaction to Alec Baldwin’s outburst to Niall Ferguson’s idiocy about Keynes? Are you willing to forgive one just because he’s your buddy? Not that Baldwin is any sort of good guy; just look at what he said about his daughter six years ago. But what makes Baldwin so deserving of your wrath?
Niall didn’t threaten to physically hurt anyone – and was widely pilloried by liberals. That’s the difference. Another is tired of the coverage:
Do we really need multiple posts on Alec Baldwin’s tirade? We all understand the hypocrisy – he’s a liberal actor who got mad and said some anti-gay slurs against someone who he thinks wronged him. But he’s certainly not the first celeb who’s words deviate from his politics. Calling him out on it out is fair enough. But please do not become some pseudo-Page 6 and cover it incessantly. If you do, you’re pulling a page out of the Fox News/NY Post playbook.
Agreed. If anyone in Hollywood or the gay establishment had really taken him on, I wouldn’t feel so compelled to point out the double standard.