Patrick Syring, a Virginia resident and outspoken Arab hater, is being charged with sending threatening e-mail messages and leaving threatening phone messages at the offices of the Arab American Institute last summer.
Apparently free speech in the United States has hit another new low, at least as it applies to speech directed toward minorities — in this case, Arab-Americans.
According to news accounts, Syring has been indicted by the Federal Government (the office of the Attorney General of the United States) for “threatening” and for “violating civil rights laws.” Those charges are, in this case, sheer nonsense. Syring reportedly said and wrote things like “The only good Arab is a dead Arab” and wrote in an email: “You wicked evil Hezbollah-supporting Arabs should burn in the fires of hell for eternity and beyond, the United States would be safer without you.” The backdrop of these phone and email messages was the period of time when Israel was bombing Lebanon. One thing to note is that Syring reportedly identified himself by name in one phone message and sent all the emails from his personal email account — he obviously wasn’t ashamed of what he was saying and didn’t believe he could possibly be in trouble with the law for saying it.
Unless there is an enormous amount of incriminating evidence that is not being reported, Patrick Syring should indeed not be in trouble for saying what he said or doing what he did. There are no threats stated or implied in the statements that were released by the federal prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Wan J. Kim. All Mr. Syring did was express his personal opinion. If insulting opinions have become illegal (as they apparently have), no matter who the insulted party is, there is trouble in this land.
What we are apparently dealing with here is a “hate crime” which, IMO, is one of the stupidest pieces of legislation ever to have been considered by our Congress. Hate crime are those things that bend and contort the law (as well as common sense) making it a worse crime, for example, to physically harm a gay person if you knew he was gay and it can be proven you dislike gays. That type of logic has never made any sense to me — if you physically harm someone you should be punished for it — it should make no difference WHY you harmed that person unless you were acting in self defense. Otherwise, what you are doing is punishing thoughts and not just actions; which is exactly what is happening in the Patrick Syring case. He, for whatever reason, hates Arabs and Arab-Americans are a “protected minority;” but Syring did nothing to harm any Arab-Americans, he simply told them what he thinks of them and for that he faces fines and Federal prison time if convicted.
Yes, Patrick Syring is a mental midget and is in no way an attribute to our society but even that is not yet illegal.
International Herald Tribune: U.S. prosecutors say Arab political organization threatened
San Francisco Chronicle: Va. Man Indicted for Threatening Arabs
From the Blogosphere (On Hate Crimes):
No Compromise When It Comes to Being Right!: The Fascism of Hate Crimes
PrideDEPOT.com: Uncertainty shrouds fate of Hate Crimes Bill