by MICHAEL SHELLENBERGER
The public’s hatred of racial, sexual, and religious minorities is so out of control that it imperils our democracy. At least, that’s what influential leaders from Joe Biden and Barack Obama to former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden and California Governor Gavin Newsom want us to believe.
Last week Newsom announced a state initiative for citizens to report disfavored speech (non-criminal “hate incidents”) they see online:
California’s “Civil Rights Department” (CRD) invites citizens to speculate about the motive of the “perpetrator.”
In a statement, Newsom’s office said the legislation was “in direct response to the rise in reported hate crimes in California, which in recent years, reached their highest levels since 2001 – jumping almost 33% from 2020 to 2021.”
But convictions of hate crimes have been flat. In 2012 there were 107 hate crime convictions in California. In 2021, there were 109, according to the same data.
It’s possible that hate crimes, not just reports, really did rise by 80%. Perhaps California’s District Attorneys decided not to prosecute them, or juries decided not to convict. In San Fransicko, I assemble a large body of evidence to show that California’s D.A.s, laws, and residents have become more tolerant of crime.
But it’s also possible that convictions stayed the same because there was no increase in prosecutable hate crimes. And it may be that Californians simply labeled more crimes as “hate” crimes because they were primed to do so by the media’s 700% – 1,000% increased focus on racism between 2011 and 2020.
Whatever the case, California’s total number of hate crime complaints is trivial. There were just 285 hate crime complaints in California, a state with 39 million people, in 2021. There was an order of magnitude more homicides in California, 2,361, in 2021.
Prejudice still exists in the United States. The California church shooting from May 2022 was motivated by political hatred. And the recent mall shooter in Texas may have been motivated by racist ideology.
But the ideologies don’t line up neatly politically. The California church shooter was Taiwanese and motivated by an obscure political grievance. The Texas shooter may have been racist, but he was also Latino. And the recent shooter in Nashville was trans and targeted Christians.
And in many instances, the political ideology is plainly secondary to mental illness. That was certainly the case with the psychotic and drug-addicted homeless man from Berkeley who attacked the husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco last year. And it may have been the case with the shooters in Texas and Nashville.
In truth, acceptance of racial, religious, and sexual differences has never been higher in recorded human history. Never before have same-sex and mixed-race couples have been more accepted across all Western nations, which are far more tolerant than most other nations worldwide.
Trans people are celebrated, with an entire reality show dedicated to documenting in celebratory fashion the sexual reassignment surgery and hormone use of a trans girl named Jazz Jennings. And few places are more celebratory of transgenderism than California.
All of which raises a question. If there’s no evidence that “hate incidents” are rising, abundant evidence that tolerance is rising, and overwhelming evidence that the media created a moral panic about racism, why are nations and nation-sized states like California urging mass spying and creating blacklists?
Ireland, Internet Tax Haven, Now Exports Censorship
Ireland has for over 40 years been the European headquarters for large US firms, including Facebook, Google, and Apple, because of its very low corporate tax rate. It is also the European headquarters for Internet censorship.
In 2019, the Irish National Police established a “National Diversity and Integration Police Unit” to monitor “hate incidents.” What are “hate incidents”? The government defines them as “Any non-crime incident which is perceived by any person to, in whole or in part, be motivated by hostility or prejudice, based on actual or perceived age, disability, race, colour, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender.”
The Irish thought police also ask citizens to report hate crimes and have created a computer record of non-crime hate incidents on its “PULSE system.”
Scotland, Austria, New Zealand, Brazil, and Australia have all also sought to criminalize “hate speech” and use it as an excuse to spy on and censor citizens. Scotland criminalized hate speech “at the dinner table.” In Australia, offensive speech can be reported, and social media platforms are required by law to remove insulting posts.
Last year, the former New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, announced a new project “aimed at tackling online hate” in which the United States government, Twitter, and Microsoft have invested in “new technology aimed at helping researchers understand how algorithms affect internet users’ experiences.”
As with the “Platform Accountability and Transparency Act,” sponsored by Senator Mark Warner and endorsed by former President Barack Obama and former CIA Fellow Renee DiResta, the New Zealand initiative appears aimed at giving a government-selected group of NGOs, who the World Economic Forum calls “key stakeholders,” the power to regulate the social media companies directly and secretly.
California is today following the lead of Ireland and New Zealand. “A hate incident,” California’s Civil Rights Department says on its website, includes “acts of hate that may not violate the law but still cause significant harm in a community.”
The California Civil Rights Division stresses that it “will not identify individuals targeted for hate or people who report acts of hate.” But it makes no similar guarantee for individuals accused of hate.
As such, the Division is effectively announcing that it will create blacklists of people who have committed no actual crime, only wrongspeech or thoughtcrime labeled as an “incident.” By putting names on a blacklist, California will thus presume citizens guilty until proven innocent.