Things are nutty in the Nutmeg State.
One of the bluest of blue states, Connecticut has more than its share of problems. According to Carol Platt Liebau, president of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy, the state is mired in an economic swamp and has the highest bonded debt per capita in America.
Mark J. Warshawsky of RealClear Policy notes Connecticut owns “one of the worst-funded state employee pension plans in the country,” whose assets cover less than a third of its liability — leaving a shortfall of nearly $22 billion.
And let’s not forget the capital city of Hartford, which could face bankruptcy now that insurance giant Aetna — a corporate denizen for more than 150 years — announced plans last month to move its headquarters out of Connecticut for a more tax-friendly home.
With all these problems on its plate, the state legislature had no choice but to recently approve the nation’s toughest hate crime law. The silly bill, which supersedes an earlier law, passed the House and Senate unanimously, so Republicans share the blame with their Democrat comrades.
Now the very idea of hate crime laws is stupid. Laws are laws, and people who break them should pay the price. Imposing extra penalties on the perpetrators based on their biases conjures up images of Orwellian thought police. There’s little doubt the rise of hate crime legislation has promoted the fracturing of society, as alienated individuals join together to form “protected groups” so they can claim victim status.
Among the reasons lawmakers gave for beefing up the state hate crime law was the supposed wave of such offenses that washed across the country late last year and in early 2017. Left unsaid was that the increase coincided with the candidacy and subsequent election of President Donald Trump.
If you follow only the mainstream media, you might believe that thuggish bigots emboldened by Trump’s campaign ran amuck and terrorized racial minorities, Muslims and gays for the past year. But folks who pay attention to real news know that almost all of the headline-grabbing hate crimes were hoaxes designed to smear Trump supporters.
So common and widespread are the fake hate crimes that it’s impossible to list them here. (Fortunately, there’s a website, www.hatecrimehoaxes.com, that has a fairly complete rundown of falsely reported incidents.)
What’s especially egregious in Connecticut is that legislators cited threatening phone calls to Jewish community centers as one of the main reasons for stiffening the law. As news accounts revealed nearly three months ago, two men — neither of them conservative — were responsible for the vast bulk of the hate calls.
Juan Thompson, a former reporter and dedicated Trump foe, pleaded guilty June 13 to making more than a dozen phoned bomb threats that he tried to blame on an ex-girlfriend. The other suspect is a 19-year-old Israeli computer whiz accused of making more than 100 calls, whose motives are still unknown.
The new Connecticut law toughens the penalties for hate crimes. Offenses that once were misdemeanors become felonies, and what already were felonies carry enhanced fines and prison terms.
But one key point seems to be left out of the law: There doesn’t appear to be any penalty for miscreants who report fake hate crimes.
Legislators can cling to their fantasies that hate crime laws will bring peace and joy to the populace. But until hoaxers are punished as severely as haters, the laws themselves will be perpetrating injustice.