Edwin Hubbel Chapin once said, "Through every rift of discovery
some seeming anomaly drops out of the darkness, and falls, as a
golden link into the chain of order."
If ever there was a "seeming anomaly" in the chain to enforce
the orthodoxy of political correctness, it's Vester Lee
Flanagan, also known as reporter Bryce Williams.
Flanagan murdered Alison Parker and Adam Ward on live television
while they were reporting on a feature story for WDBJ in
Virginia. Parker was the reporter and Ward was the cameraman.
The incident might be chocked up as nothing more than another
tragic situation of workplace violence except that Flanagan said
in a 23 page letter to ABC News the killings were out of his
anger over "racial discrimination, sexual harassment and
bullying at work." Although his claims of inequity were proven
to be unsubstantiated, he said he had been "attacked for being a
gay, black man." He also claimed the Charleston church shooting
in June ought to have provoked a race war and the incident was
the inspiration for his dastardly act.
So if Flanagan had not turned the gun on himself and taken his
own life, but lived, one can only wonder if the two murders he
committed would have been deemed a hate crime. Parker and Ward
were both white and straight. Flanagan was black and gay.
So what happens when a black gay man guns down two white
straight people expressing his motives are connected to issues
of race and homosexuality?
Ben Shapiro, Senior Editor-At-Large for Breitbart News and a New
York Times bestselling author, noted in a column about the
"Had a white straight man killed a black gay man, released a
first person tape of the shooting, and then unleashed a
manifesto about being victimized by affirmative action and anti-
religious bigotry from homosexuals, the media would never stop
covering the story. They'd be eager to report that shooter's
motives with all the attendant politically correct hullaballoo
about the racism and homophobia of the United States more
broadly. We would hear about white supremacy. We would hear
excoriations of the Republican presidential candidates for their
failures to stand with the Black Lives Matter movement — and
their opposition to same-sex marriage …"
Indeed, we would. And, Shapiro goes on to rightly argue that the
media is more likely to depict Flanagan simply as an "outlier"
and focus the conversation on the supposed need for gun control.
But what about a question that goes to the heart of the matter —
would Flanagan's crime be deemed a hate crime?
It would seem to fit the category.
The federal government defines a hate crime as "any criminal
offense … which is motivated, in whole or in part, by the
offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual
orientation, or ethnicity/national origin."
Flanagan's rage vented on Parker and Ward seemingly wasn't just
against them for personal offenses, but as representatives of
his perceived white, straight, anti-gay oppressors. Whether they
were burning a cross on a lawn or carrying out a lynching, the
Ku Klux Klan used the same twisted rationale against blacks and
Flanagan's maniacal act also seems to fit the various
justifications given for hate crime laws. Hate crime laws carry
tougher penalties because they are deemed to be more brutal in
nature, allegedly do more psychological harm, and, as a bias
motivated crime, hurt innocent third parties. In other words,
the crime not only targets a certain victim, but is directed at
a group. Over and again, via news footage, the public witnessed
an excessively brutal act of wanton murder by a man filled with
hate who meant to do psychological damage to millions, while
striking out against all people who would discriminate on the
basis of race or sexuality.
Still, had Flanagan not committed suicide, it's highly unlikely
he would have been charged with a hate crime. Even though others
have been charged with the same for less than what he did — some
for just using derogatory language. Why? Because hate crime laws
are not about equal justice under the law as our Constitution
demands. They are, instead, about tipping the scales in favor of
people from protected groups and not others.
Violent crime should be punished under the same standard no
matter the victim.
In his book, 10 Truths About Hate Crime Laws, John Aman writes:
"[U]nder the hate crimes regime, the law no longer regards 'man
as man,' but as a member of a group. Equal justice gives way to
a system of 'preferential justice,' in which, as novelist George
Orwell put it, 'All animals are equal, but some animals are more
equal than others.'"
Aman also contends:
"Hate crime statutes codify legal distinctions based on race,
ethnicity, national origin, gender, and sexual behavior. They
alert all Americans to these distinct identities and reinforce,
magnify, and fix in place group conflict by using the law to
make them legitimate. The media reinforces these divisions by
showering attention on crimes purported to be motivated by
prejudice…Based on differences in race, gender, religion, or
sexual conduct, such factionalism is moving our society toward
the 'disuniting of America.' Some are calling this a 'new
Such laws work to create, as Aman asserts, "a perverse incentive
to seek victimhood, since victimization enhances a group's
'moral claim on the larger society,' and, therefore, it
leverages political power." Quoting Shelby Steele, Aman adds,
"The power to be found in victimization, like any power is
intoxicating and can lend itself to the creation of a new class
of super-victims who can feel the pea of victimization under
News reports indicate, as Shapiro wrote, that Flanagan
"marinated in his self-appointed victimhood status." He sought
to use it as power over the places where he worked, but
officials dismissed his complaints. He was constantly looking
for people to say something to which he might take offense.
Flanagan is not alone in such behavior. Except for the act of
murder, his worldview either to a greater or lesser degree is
becoming a national phenomenon.
Is this what we've come to in this country? Whatever happened to
that greater, former set of ideas about personal responsibility
and impartial justice, and not identity politics, that were our
The point here is hate crime laws may have been enacted with the
intention of protecting weaker and minority groups, but such
laws and the politics surrounding them, have instead worked to
enhance separatism, fueling and magnifying prejudices and
antagonisms. They have exacerbated feelings of victimization,
even to the point of violence.
If Flanagan's fury is suggestive of anything, it has a
connection to this. Moreover, Flanagan is the anomaly indicative
of our country's need of God's grace in Christ to cleanse away
the hate and partiality against any man or group — something no
law can do.