Sam M. sends in a story about prosecutorial overreach that Alasdair MacIntyre must love. Excerpt:
Renegade Amish Bishop Sam Mullet, convicted of federal hate crimes in a series of beard- and hair-cutting attacks on other Amish across Ohio, should go to prison for the rest of his life when he is sentenced Friday, federal prosecutors said today.
But Mr. Mullet’s public defender says he should get no more than two years behind bars, arguing that no one was badly injured in the attacks and that a life sentence would be unjust.
Mr. Mullet and 15 of his followers, almost all of them related to him by birth or marriage, are scheduled to be sentenced in U.S. District Court in Cleveland at an all-day hearing expected to be attended by reporters from across the U.S. and some foreign countries.
Mr. Mullet did not directly participate in the attacks on other Amish, but he was convicted under the federal hate crimes statute because of what prosecutors said was his leadership role in the Jefferson County community of Bergholz, outside Steubenville. The government said he knew of the attacks, which were designed to punish and humiliate other Amish, and didn’t do anything to stop them. Witnesses for the prosecution said Mr. Mullet was a cult-like leader whose followers, including his sons, did his bidding.
OK, think about that for a second. The feds want to put this old kook in jail for life because his followers — his followers — cut off the beards of their co-religionists.
In jail. For life. Because his congregants cut off the beards of others.
Look, I can understand that beards are more important in Amish culture than in other cultures, and that an assault like this means far more within an Amish context than it would to you or me. Nevertheless, federal prosecutors are asking a judge to send a man to jail for the rest of his life for his involvement with beard-trimming.
Let’s say that a renegade band of Sunni Muslims were convicted of sneaking up on Salafist women and ripping off their burqas to reveal their faces in public. Would the feds ask them to be sent to jail for life because the offense of showing one’s face in public was felt to be a far worse thing for Salafists than for others?
This is the idiotic logic of hate crime legislation: the concept that the seriousness of the crime and its punishment can be determined by subjective elements related to the identity and feelings of the victim and the victimizer. Why is the injury suffered by the shorn Amish worse because those who assaulted them were also Amish? I mean, why is it worse in terms of deciding the punishment of the assailants? Is it so bad that the assailants, or at least the mastermind behind the rogue barbering, should go to prison for the rest of his life?
Federal prosecutors believe so. They are demented, and so are hate crimes laws.