Hate crime reversed

Posted: Oct 23, 2002 12:00 AM
Reginald and Jonathan Carr's final attack began on the evening of Dec. 14, when the two brothers burst into a Wichita, Kan., home and pulled out their guns. Several days earlier, the Carr brothers had taken a man hostage at gunpoint, robbing him of $800 before leaving him stranded on a dirt rode. A few days after that, they discharged a bullet into the skull of a 55-year-old female cellist, as she parked her car outside of her home. Then, on Dec. 14, the Carr brothers took five Wichita residents - three men, two women - hostage. The brothers forced their captives to perform sexual acts for their amusement, before raping the two women. Later that night, the Carrs drove the five people to an ATM machine, where they were forced to withdraw money from their accounts. The car then pulled off onto an abandoned soccer field. The brothers directed their captives to get out of the car and lie in the snow. The victims pleaded for their lives as the brothers shot each of them in the back of the head. One survived. She appears as the prosecution's sole eyewitness in the court proceedings, which began last week. Like the James Byrd dragging death, in which two white men chained a black man to their truck and dragged him down a dirt road, the Carr brothers acted without provocation. The two black Americans simply picked four white people, then brutally and arbitrarily violated their right to live. Both incidents were pointless acts of racial aggression. Both attacks represent a savage disregard for the basic rules that keep us huddled together as a society. Unlike the Byrd murder, however, the Wichita massacre received little national exposure, largely because the victims were white. That means no Jesse Jackson screaming into his megaphone about how the government needs to wipe out racial violence. And no Rev. Al Sharpton fulminating into his power horn about the need for a special category of law dealing with racially-motivated crimes. Hardly anyone even raised an eyebrow when Wichita officials declined to try the case as a hate crime. Had the victims been four black people killed by two white assailants, the hate crime prophets would have come streaming into Kansas carrying the national media in tow. Yet, when an equally savage and racially-motivated crime is perpetrated against white people, the response is muted. Apparently, the supporters of hate crime legislation are concerned with only stemming racially-motivated violence against blacks. This inconsistency suggests that hate crime legislation is not about justice. After all, the law covers the crime of murder. Hate crime legislation is not about redressing inequality, or it would be equally concerned with all racially-motivated crimes. Hate crime is about twisting the law to accommodate the all-encompassing view that blacks are forever victims of whites. It's about how whites can never truly empathize with the first-hand effects of racial injustice. It's about the politically correct view that racial injustice is "a black thing." Tell that to the families of the four people who were left to die on a cold, damp soccer field. There is something we (BEGIN ITAL) can do to guard against racially-motivated crime. And it does not mean applying the hate crime law selectively. It means setting up community organizations to consider the brutality of racially-motivated crime -white on black or otherwise. It also means leaving the law to judge a person's crimes - not his or her motives. In the Wichita massacre, as with the Byrd death, the courts should finish the job by employing the death penalty. They should do so not because the assailants murdered whites or blacks, but because they killed humans.