Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hate Crime?

A few days ago, I wrote about the Eucharist incident in Florida, and the fragility of the believes of many Catholics. Some thing that keep me thinking is that some compared it with a hate crime:

"We don't know 100% what Mr. Cook's motivation was," said Susan Fani a spokesperson with the local Catholic diocese. "However, if anything were to qualify as a hate crime, to us this seems like this might be it." (Emphasis mine)
Let me get this straight, a Hate Crime?

First of all, we need a crime! Right? So, what is the crime here. The Eucharist was handed to him with the idea that it is consumed. So, we can dismiss charges like stealing etc. At most, you can claim he did not follow the implied contract that came with the acceptance of the host, and that is that he had to eat it immediately.

The next action is done by a representative of the Catholic church. But unfortunately, the stories vary to much to be sure what happened exactly. But for the sake of the argument, lets assume that Webster Cook indeed committed a crime punishable in regular court. I personally doubt it, but lets just assume.

To make it a hate crime, we have to prove intent that it was a crime that was motivated by hate towards the Catholic church. So, he did not eat it immediately. Why? He claims because he wanted to show it to his friend, and then consume it as intended. So, where is the hateful motivation, the intent to hurt someone because of the nature of the person or entity. It was not there. It is easy to claim that it was a hate crime because he stole it and took it out of the church. But there is a lot that happens, and that is unclear, between receiving the host and walking out of the church. Much of it is reactionary to events, attacks etc that happened in that between period.

In the coming weeks, it will be interesting what is going to happen in this case. What is the university going to do, what is the church going to do. I would not be surprised if this action has consequences within the church itself for Webster, but in the regular courts, I doubt it.

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