Oh sure, its fine when a monkey does it. But when I throw barrels at an Italian plumber, they call it a hate crime! – Stephen Colbert
In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs, it is the rule. – Friedrich Nietzsche
Apparently, all it takes for the fine citizens of the city of Batavia to lose their collective minds is for some nitwit high schoolers to steal five Pride flags and one Black Lives Matter sign. Who knew that kind of petty theft would herald the kind of planetary Armageddon so vividly described in the Book of Revelations.
No one likes having the smallest something stolen, but by this overblown reaction you’d think the Proud Boys had taken up residence on the Batavia Riverwalk. To put this in some sort of perspective, it’s prime political sign stealing season and no one’s breathing a word about what are likely dozens of daily thefts.
If you did call the Batavia Police in this yard sign regard, as it is with all departments, they’ll diligently take a report and do absolutely nothing about it – even if you caught the perpetrator on video. Political sign stealing is not a priority, nor should it be.
Ah! But if you steal a Pride flag it’s “hate crime,” even if it was stolen from a straight residence? That’s some kind of stretch.
Extrapolating this logic out to its illogical conclusion, is stealing a minority candidate’s yard sign is a hate crime, too? How about rear-ending a car with a BLM bumper sticker? What about an off-color joke about Asians? The alarming truth is that the boundaries between a criminal act and a simple case of poor taste or stupidity get thinner and thinner.
And this proposition becomes even more hazardous when you consider the nebulous hate crime statutes themselves. They attempt to criminalize the thought process, which puts officers and prosecutors in the role of the thought police. Mr. Orwell’s prescient admonition notwithstanding, that reality should terrify you every bit as much as it does me.
What are the odds of group of Batavia high schoolers waging an anti-gay intimidation campaign, or is it far more likely that they’re doing their damnedest to solicit the kind of over-the-top citywide reaction that we’re seeing right now?
Twelve-year Batavia City Council Member Dan Chanzit, who’s openly gay, told the press that “Attacking someone’s home like this violates their sense of belonging.” While I understand it’s not pleasant, my theory is that calling a $30 flag theft an “attack” diminishes the LGBTQ folks who took a Stonewall stand and those who actually had to endure physical attacks.
Worse yet, calling these thefts “hate crimes” diminishes real hate crimes. I’m surprised the Batavia Police Department seems to be going along with this overreaction because it detracts from and distracts us from the real problem. And the real problem is white supremacist groups are ramping up their efforts to disrupt pride events, but that all gets lost in the progressive self-righteous chest-thumping race to see who’s the most ideologically pure.
To be fair, during a brief email exchange with BPD Chief Dan Eul, he correctly noted that it’s the state’s attorney that has the final say on filing charges, but that doesn’t mean they don’t take the charging entity’s judgement into account.
Chanzit also said he was encouraged by the community outrage over the missing signs, but I’m not so sure about that.
First, these kinds of disproportionate responses tend to exacerbate a problem that wasn’t really all that bad to begin with. It’s all part of the progressive ideology where things have to be as bad as they’ve ever been. But the truth is, with increasingly rare exception, gay folks are generally accepted for who they are, they can get married, and they can rise to the level of a presidential candidate or even a Batavia Alderman.
To say otherwise does a vast disservice to the LGBTQ groundbreakers who worked so hard and endured so much to get us to this point.
And second, considering the First Ward postulate stating there’s always an equal and opposite reaction to every political action, all this howling, shrieking, and rending of garments does is make the situation worse.
The best reaction to these Pride flag thefts is to simply replace the flag and avoid the kind of dire proclamations that only serve to create the reality you’re railing against. If these kids keep it up, they will eventually get caught and that will likely be the end of it.
But when they are caught, it should be treated as a simple trespassing, criminal damage to property, and theft case, not a hate crime, which would only harden their resolve and create the next generation of white supremacists.
Though progressive Democrats try to give it their best shot, bigotry, intolerance, and hate will always be with us – they’re not something that can be legislated away. That means it’s up to us to respond appropriately whenever that Donne-esque tolls for all of us. But if a stupid sign theft can elicit this kind of dire response, then where does Batavia go when the Patriot Front shows up?
Put more simply, If you blow all of your outrage on a minor flag issue, then what are you going to do when you’re finally faced with real intolerance?
Author’s note: In the process of inviting him to be on the DOA Podcast, Alderman Chanzit and I had a fascinating conversation on this topic in which we consistently agreed with each other’s main points. But while we both want to get to that promised land, we disagree on the route to get there. The good news is Dan graciously accepted my invitation and we will be doing the podcast this weekend. Stay tuned!