When I thought of someone hanging a noose in public, I didn’t they were racist. I’m a little strange, but I assumed that if someone was doing this, they’re setting up a performance. I figured that if someone was hanging a noose, it means it’s for a play or a film. However, let’s assume this isn’t the case. The law is fully capable of making a distinction between these cases and those where a person intends to intimidate others.
Should it then become a crime? I say no. Unless hate crime legislation is designed to send people to lectures on tolerance, legal punishment will make people angry and even more discriminatory. This is seen all the time in prison systems. If you punish someone who thinks they don’t deserve punishment, they resent you. Once they have an opportunity to act out, they will do so. Sometimes dealing with racism requires serious action. However, that action shouldn’t always be violent. Different situations call for different strategies. For instance, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X implied different tactics that both aided the civil rights movement. Arguably, they both provided something that was needed to bring about social change.
The philosopher John Stuart Mill points out that if we censor views with find ignorant, we allow those views to exist without our awareness. Do we really want all the people in society who hold racist viewpoints to be indistinguishable from everyone else? We want to know who holds such views so we can take action. This can be in the form of social pressure and/or conversation. People vastly underestimate the ability of a community to influence other people.
The courts are busy. People need to take more responsibility for the members of their community. If this happens in your community, make a KKK doll. Put it in the noose. Let people know this kind of activity is not acceptable. Now in some cases, there are isolated members in discriminatory communities. But we have to be kidding ourselves. You don’t have enlightened and accepting judiciaries in regions where racism is rampant. You end up with racist judiciaries. Now if the noose constitutes a legitimate threat, you can charge the person for it. However, he might dislike his neighbor who just happens to be black. Most people don’t have a toolbox full of threatening gestures or symbols. A rope might have been all that is available. This is unlikely, of course, but there are always unusual cases showing up in courts.
I’ll summarize with my viewpoint as follows: the courts should prevent people from being harmed. If we want to reduce racism, we need to educate people and stand up against it as a community. We can’t expect “everyone else to do it” and delegate everything to the government. Furthermore, if the government tried to teach hate crime perpetrators tolerance, there would be such a political uproar. People would accuse the government of so many things. So much money would be wasted, and nothing would happen. Ultimately, putting a stop to racism is our job as citizens and the job of the education system. The judicial system doesn’t “punish” tolerance into people or “prison” thieves into upstanding citizens. This has been shown to be the case years. It’s time to stop taking the easy way out and live our lives as the type of people who hear racial slurs and say “excuse me” rather than laugh.