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 We need Clockwork Orange justice -- strapping the hate-criminal into a chair for an interminable period, and keeping his eyes wide-open with metal clamps so he cannot escape from an onslaught of cinematic imagery carefully designed to break his neurotic attachment to self-induced intellectual impairment. -- Alan Young, who was traumatised by Gentile children in Hebrew School in his youth.

Faurisson, Zündel, Leuchter

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Toronto Star
Toronto, March 28, 2004. 09:38 AM


Hate criminal needs deprogramming

by Alan Young

MANY afternoons while walking home from Hebrew day school, my best friend and I would have rock fights with some of the local kids. Before I even knew what anti-Semitism meant, our opponents would be throwing rocks while screaming anti-Jewish slogans. It was all very biblical.

worshipping hatredAt the ripe age of six or seven we had no clue that our battles had deeper, more sinister implications. We were just playing a version of cops and robbers, with the Jews always cast in the role of robber. The rock throwing was fun, but we never seemed to have any clever names or slogans to throw back at our opponents. Our rocks were simply accompanied by ethnically neutral slurs like dirty, smelly and stupid. Turns out we were partly right.

Toronto has descended into the ugly world of hate and bigotry with a recent flurry of anti-Semitic vandalism and graveyard desecration. The police, the politicians and the media commentators have been describing these Jew-hating criminals as cowardly, evil, low-life and cruel, but I think their descriptions miss the mark.

The hate criminal is unique. The defining feature of the hate criminal is stupidity. It is a crime born of intellectual deficiency. Anyone who resorts to generalizations about the moral worth of every member of a particular ethnic, racial or religious group is an imbecile. These people turn off their brains and pay homage to half-baked philosophies based on nothing more than their own inadequacies and insecurities.

The racist deliberately short-circuits his brain to massage a crippling and neurotic need to hate. They really hate themselves but they project the hatred on to historically well-recognized scapegoats. The psychological solace gained by projecting hatred outward comes at a great price -- the destruction of the gift of rationality.

Hitler was not an evil genius: he was stupid. If his neurotic hatred of the Jewish people did not consume his rationality he might have won his quest for European domination.

William Pierce, founder of the white supremacist group the National Alliance, may have been a physics professor, but being able to understand the splitting of the atom does not necessarily mean that the genius understands the visible world.

Once it is understood that the defining feature of bigotry of any sort is stupidity, then the administration of criminal justice faces real problems.

In response to the recent wave of anti-Semitic vandalism, the Attorney General of Ontario has pledged rigorous enforcement of the law. But criminal justice actually can do very little to combat stupidity. In assessing the constitutionality of our hate literature law in 1990, the Supreme Court of Canada struggled with the knowledge that pre-Nazi Germany also had hate literature crimes. We know that law can rarely change the way a person thinks, especially when thinking is all mixed up with delusion, and in trying to use the law as a tool of coercive persuasion there is always the danger we will elevate the stupid into the role of martyr for other stupid people. Although criminal justice is an ineffective response, we still need the symbolic denunciation of this hurtful irrationality of bigotry by invoking the criminal law.

Ernst ZündelWhen we prosecute those responsible for the recent vandalism, it would be a mistake to think that a fine or imprisonment can address the problem of hate-driven criminality. The hate criminal probably needs rigorous deprogramming like the extreme measures taken by parents to counter the brainwashing of children by lunatic cults. It is bizarre that criminal justice officials try to do more to change the belief and behaviour of johns charged with prostitution than they do with the Ernst Zündels (left) and Jim Keegstras of the world. We send the consumers of prostitution to "john school." We send the bigot to jail to sit and stew, and the suffering is just used by the bigot to reinforce the righteousness of delusional views.

Just as some cancers require invasive surgery, the hate crime needs intrusive measures. The usual out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach to modern punishment just won't work in this case. For crimes of supreme stupidity we need Clockwork Orange justice -- strapping the hate criminal into a chair for an interminable period, and keeping his eyes wide-open with metal clamps so he cannot escape from an onslaught of cinematic imagery carefully designed to break his neurotic attachment to self-induced intellectual impairment.

In the context of hate crime, I do have some regrets that we have a constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. I don't think coercive persuasion or deprogramming is necessarily cruel, but as a state sanction it is unusual. However, if the crime is unique the sanction should be also. Simply dishing out more prison time or a larger fine is a dead-end. We need a punishment that can kick-start a brain.

Regrettably when it comes to punishment, our system rarely exhibits ingenuity, audacity and courage.

Alan Young is a law professor, criminal lawyer and author of Justice Defiled: Perverts, Potheads, Serial Killers & Lawyers (Key Porter).



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