First Amendment Flush

, Tony Perkins, Leave a comment

In a bizarre case at Pace University, former student Stanislav Shmulevich has been accused of taking two copies of the Koran from a “meditation room” and throwing them in toilets.

While no one could legitimately defend his actions, it likewise seems indefensible that University officials bowed to demands by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and charged Shmulevich with a hate crime in addition to the initial charges of “criminal mischief.” The Islamic community has every right to be express disdain for Shmulevich’s actions, but not to insist on extra criminal punishment for his thoughts, which is what “hate crime” laws provide for.

Supporters of the proposed federal hate crime bill defend it as targeting only acts of violence. Yet New York’s law apparently targets vandalism as well.

How long will it be before mere speech expressing disapproval (be it of Islam, or of homosexuality) is also criminalized, as in several other countries? This is the slippery slope of the “hate crimes” mentality, and we shouldn’t take even one step down it.

When Andres Serrano submerged a crucifix in urine and called it “art,” Christians condemned the act—but demanded only that the taxpayers not pay for it, not that he be jailed for a “hate crime.”

Tony Perkins is the president of the Family Research Council. This article is excerpted from the Washington Update that he compiles for the FRC.