The mighty dream of college-aged socialists everywhere is finally coming true: Hate speech is now against the law in the Land of the First Amendment. That’s the only possible takeaway from the decision in Contra Costa, California, where the district attorney is charging a man and a woman with a hate crime for the unforgivable offense of…painting over a Black Lives Matter mural.
“We must address the root and byproduct of systemic racism in our country,” said District Attorney Diana Becton. “The Black Lives Matter movement is an important civil rights cause that deserves all of our attention. The mural completed last weekend was a peaceful and powerful way to communicate the importance of Black lives in Contra Costa County and the country. We must continue to elevate discussions and actually listen to one another in an effort to heal our community and country.”
Correct us if we’re wrong, but is it the job of the district attorney to address “systemic racism”? Is it the role of county prosecutors to determine which causes “deserve all of our attention”? This reads terrifyingly close to propaganda, and it only solidifies fears that while certain elements of the public are calling to “Defund the Police,” others are moving to install a new form of law enforcement: The Thought Police.
We’re not saying that Nichole Anderson and David Nelson should not have been charged with any crime at all. They defaced a mural that was put on public property with the assent and permit of the city. If prosecutors want to charge the couple with vandalism (which they are) or possession of tools to commit graffiti (which they are), then we don’t have too much problem with that. That’s about enforcing public order and prosecuting reasonable crimes.
But the final charge – Violation of Civil Rights? That’s a bridge too far. No one’s civil rights were violated. No hate crime was committed. We’re not even sure that “hate crime,” as a category, is defensible under the Constitution, but even if we go along with that, how does this fit? No violence was committed. No one was harmed. This was, at best, a crime of peaceful protest. And if we’re going to start prosecuting people guilty of that, the line is going to have to start well ahead of these two.
“Nelson and Anderson arrived at the scene of the mural after it was completed with paint supplies,” the district attorney said in a statement. “Anderson started to paint over the yellow letters ‘B’ and ‘L’ in the word ‘Black.’ She used black paint and a large paint roller to do so. The video has been shared widely by witnesses and shared on social media. The City of Martinez values tolerance and the damage to the mural was divisive and hurtful.”
Um, perhaps. But we’re pretty sure there are no laws against being “divisive and hurtful” by way of art.
Which is why overzealous leftists simply make them up when they want to send a message.