When first-degree murder isn’t enough

Three human beings are dead after being murdered in cold blood by two crazed gunmen.  The alleged killers have been apprehended by police.  Any civilized society should have no problem bringing about justice based on those two facts alone.  The only legitimate question left is whether to execute the perpetrators or to lock them up and throw away the key.  Or so you’d think:
Police are investigating whether the shootings of five African-Americans in Tulsa, Oklahoma, were a hate crime after the weekend arrests of two white suspects in the case, local authorities said Sunday.

Why? What will a “hate crime” classification change?  Is the Tulsa police department incompetent, necessitating federal involvement? CNN and ABC News both spend half their stories contemplating the racial motivation of the killers, as if that will make the pre-meditated murders any more or less horrific.  The crimes are an attack on our common humanity.  Using the acts of madmen to attempt to weave a tale about race relations in America only causes more divisiveness:

Police officials said it was too soon to attribute the attacks to race, but community leaders expressed concern about the motivation for the shootings, as well as the possibility that they would provoke a vigilante response, the Associated Press reported.

What would a “vigilante response” entail?  The suspects are in custody.  The only “concern about the motivation” should pertain to the prosecutor’s ability to prove it in a court of law, enabling a conviction for first-degree murder.

“We feel like he’s targeting African Americans in this part of town. And I think some parts of law enforcement feel the same way,” Blakney said Saturday.

Councilman Henderson said, “I was NAACP president for seven years and I understand and I know hate crime when I see one.”

Let me help out the police and the councilman.  Yes, the crime was motivated by hate.  The shooter was blinded by it,  dehumanizing his victims and irrationally wanting their families to feel the same pain that consumed him:

Suspect England wrote on his Facebook page that his father, Carl England, was shot and killed April 5, 2010, almost exactly two years before Friday’s shootings.
A black man was charged and is serving a prison sentence for the crime.
On Thursday at 4:04 p.m., England wrote, “Today is two years that my dad has been gone shot by a f—— n—– it’s hard not to go off between that and sheran I’m gone in the head.” According to England’s Facebook page, his girlfriend, Sheran Hart Wilde, recently died.”
The penal code has multiple purposes, including deterrence, retribution, and incapacitation. “Hate crime” legislation contributes to none of those purposes.  It is an attack on the American ideal of equality before the law, embedding into the legal framework the idea that citizens should be treated differently based on their race, ethnicity, or religion.
The three men who were senselessly killed are “Dannaer Fields, 49, Bobby Clark, 54, and William Allen, 31.”  They were human beings with inherent dignity. We should honor them by praying for and consoling their loved ones,  not casting them as characters in a fictional race war, which exists to give the media and politicians a useful narrative to demagogue.
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