So this morning I found people talking about this story on Twitter. (Daily Mail link)
It's about a former Liberal Councillor who called her ethnically Asian opponent a "coconunt", implying they were betraying their ethnicity to pander to the white majority. She was later convicted of racial abuse, and has admitted she shouldn't have said it.
Let's ignore during this discussion the ludicrous Mail reporting, which is based on continuing their bollocks on how it's okay to be racist, as well as trying to get us to feel sorry for the councillor because she's a mum and had a stroke at one point, as though that's relevant.
Now, firstly, I can see why her opponent was offended. If I was accused of my opinion being somehow false, constructed or inappropriate just because of the colour of my skin I'd be livid.
But then I started thinking about the idea of hate crimes in general. Is it really fair to make the motivation for a crime form part of the punishment?
Someone being assaulted, say, for being of an ethnic minority is obviously a sickening thing, but is it inherently worse on the part of the attacker than if he'd done so because he'd been looked at funny, or just attacked someone for fun? More depressing, certainly, but is it more malicious or nonsensical? Does the victim come off any worse?
Then there's the fact that the whole thing is tied to freedom of speech. Can we really have words or accusations as being criminal? Surely a racist should be criticised, ostricised, harangued and mocked, but not convicted?
Would like to hear your thoughts on this.