The end of freedom of speech began with the invention of “hate crimes” as a means to deter and punish crimes committed against an individual or members of a designated or protected “minority.” Hate crimes had their conspicuous genesis under the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which criminalized actions against individuals because of their race, color, gender, or national origin. This was the first major step away from treating individuals as individuals, and not as members of groups or tribes, and away from objectively defined crime.

Following it was passage of the Federal Hate Crime Law of 1969 (18 U.S.C. § 245(B)(2)) which, among other things, clarified or buttressed the definition of resistance to law enforcement officers, including preventing individuals from voting or the like because of their race, color, gender, and so on.

It was followed by the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which increased the penalties for “hate crimes.”

This in turn was complemented with the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, signed into law by President Barack Obama. (Incidentally, this law was a rider to the controversial National Defense Authorization Act for 2010.) The Act’s name refers to two individuals, one a homosexual tortured to death in Wyoming, and a black man who was tied to the back of a truck in Texas and then decapitated. In neither state existed a hate crime law relevant to their groups, and the perpetrators of both crimes were tried under normal capital crime law. The formal name of the Act was a gratuitous sop to special interest groups for political advantage.

The problem with the idea of a “hate crime” is that it appends an irrelevant motive to an action that would otherwise be treated as a felony, and makes the motive a felony, as well. Further, “hate crimes” are complemented by another invalid concept, “hate speech,” also elevated to the status of a felony, that is, a crime. While criminal actions cannot be divorced from motives, up until recently motives were not punishable as state-defined and state-enforced crimes, only the fact of a criminal action. That is, a criminal action would be the initiation of force against an individual. The end or purpose of the initiation is irrelevant. It could be robbery, rape, or simply the malicious infliction of pain in revenge or as a means of visceral restitution.

This dangerous and totalitarian idea of “hate crime” has naturally migrated into the realm of speech. Now the act of expressing a “negative” stance on Muslims, homosexuals, and other “protected” groups is treated as a “hate crime” compounded by the crime of “hate speech.” Both notions seek to punish the contents of an individual’s mind. However, no matter how repellant those contents, they can never be objectively known, not even when a defendant describes them. To make the contents of one’s mind a legal liability, is a form of thought control.

There is a double standard in force, however. Rappers can denigrate women freely with as many obscenities as are in their vocabulary. Muslims can call for the death of anyone who “denigrates” Islam or Mohammad. Rappers are defended by the First Amendment. Muslims screamers and sign carriers are also protected by the First Amendment, regardless of how outrageously homicidal or offensive or intimidating their rhetoric, but exempted from being charged with “hate speech” because they are now a special “protected” class who are merely expressing their “pain” and “offended feelings.” Muslims are even excused from actual crimes such as physical assault with wrist-slaps, even though they may have employed “hate speech” in the commission of a provable crime.

But Bryan Jennings, who got into an argument with a Muslim cab driver, and who expressed his feelings about the cab driver, was treated as a felon. He was fortunate that a judge ruled on the matter on a technicality created by a clueless and victimhood-seeking Muslim.

Muslim organizations such as CAIR and its numerous ideological affiliates such as ICNA (allied with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, or OIC) wish to convert the First Amendment from a guarantee of freedom of speech to a punishable “freedom from speech” tool to silence criticism, whether that criticism takes the form of scholarly disquisitions or crude cartoons or just plain from-the-gut expressions of dislike or fear of Islam and Muslims.

The concepts of “hate crime” and “hate speech,” together or separately, are a form of totalitarian gangrene spreading throughout America’s judicial system. Does anyone else see where this is leading?

The notion of Orwellian “thought crime,” once regarded as an impossibility in this country, has in fact taken root, doubtless fueled by political correctness and politically correct speech and group warfare, with the consequence that more and more Americans – dare we say it? – are afraid to think. Because to think is to court disaster and put oneself in a potential state of double jeopardy. This is dependent on whether or not they even know there is an issue.

So, why bother to think?

Dark Ages do not just suddenly happen. They begin when men begin turning off the lights of their minds. There is only one duty an individual is obliged to fulfill, and that is to think, and that is for his self-preservation. Neglect that duty, or abdicate it, and one’s life may or may not be preserved at the whim of another.

However, let’s run down a short list of various notions of criminal law and how restrictions on freedom of speech can be rationalized and imposed by the state using criminal law at the behest of Muslims, their Islamic mouthpieces, and their “civil rights” advocates. Insofar as Islam is concerned, “hate speech” or a “hate crime” can be anything from satirizing Islam, Mohammad, or Muslims in a cartoon or video, to burning a copy of the Koran, to telling a Muslim to “go back where he came from,” to innocuous jests, to writing a learned and critical treatise on Islam.

Vicarious liability: This concept places the “public interest” above “private interest” and is concerned with the actions of an employer’s employees. If I happen to be employed, and write something that offends Muslims but wrote it outside my employer’s office and on my own time, it is possible that a court could hold the employer responsible for not having imposed any number of speech-deterring or preventative incentives to still my pen. Whether or not I had any criminal intent, would be irrelevant. Nor would my intent to educate or entertain others be relevant. Whether or not my employer had any right to impose those incentives would be irrelevant. The “public interest” would be construed as an absence of rioting Muslims. My speech “incited” rioting. The rioters would be held blameless. Ergo, the employer must be punished.

If my speech violated Congressionally- or federally-imposed restrictions on speech (say, at the behest of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the OIC through United Nations resolution 16/18), my employer’s innocence in the matter would also be irrelevant. He would be held responsible for my actions, whether or not he had knowledge of them.

Conspiracy: A conspiracy requires at least two persons to plot to take a criminal action, or an action defined by a government to be criminal. If criticism of Islam, Mohammad, or Muslims is deemed a criminal offense, then Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Steve Emerson, Raymond Ibrahim, Nonie Darwish, Daniel Greenfield, Caroline Glick, and a host of other critics of Islam could be charged with conspiracy to “harm” Muslims, or hurt their “feelings,” or violate their “sensitivities,” acting in formal or informal compact, independently, or all together or in pairs or threes. The criminal action would be defined as a “plot” to hurt the feelings and sensitivities of Muslims with criticism of their religion, even though the criticism would be limited to the content of Islam’s primary documents, such as the Koran, the Hadith and The Reliance of the Traveler, in order to highlight in those documents the numerous Islamic imperatives to initiate force against non-Muslims.

Suppose, by some miracle of oversight, the government treated criticism of Islam as a “legal” end, but deemed a certain quality, tone or form of criticism “illegal,” “irresponsible,” and beyond the pale of civil inquiry or discourse. If CAIR or some other Muslim organization decided to file suit based on a perceived illegal form of criticism, the resolution of the case would depend entirely on a judge’s or court’s arbitrary and subjective interpretation of the offense. It may find for or against the plaintiff. The purpose of such a suit would not be justice, but vengeance for having spoken one’s mind, and to exhaust the defendant’s financial resources through attorney and court costs. Several states have passed laws invalidating “libel tourism,” that is, suits brought against individuals in this country by Muslims in another country, particularly in Britain.

Assault and/or Battery: Criminal or aggravated assault entails the physical initiation of force against another individual, with or without a weapon, with the intent to inflict bodily harm, compounded or not in the commission of another crime, such as robbery, rape, or simply harassment or intimidation. Battery is the unsolicited contact of another person, such as “buttonholing” him, jabbing a finger on his chest, grabbing his shirtsleeve, with no intent to inflict bodily harm. It is usually construed as unlawful detention if the victim did not wish to be “detained” by the aggressor and had no recourse but to “get physical” with the perpetrator, if he so chose. The notorious Rutgers case, which involved no physical contact at all between the defendant and the “injured” but the use of a webcam, saw the coining of another euphemism for “hate crime”: bias intimidation.

Muslims and their spokesmen repeatedly claim that Islam, Muslims, Mohammad, the Koran are under “assault” by their critics and that their “defamation” constitutes nearly literal physical assault, when in fact, all that can result from written, verbal or visual criticism of Islam in any form is “emotional cruelty” experienced by Muslims. But just as a man can ignore an insult and walk away, Muslims are free to do the same thing.

Instead, practically all criticism of Islam is regarded as “hurtful” and an “insult,” and Muslims and their advocates continually seek “justice” or restitution of or compensation for their lost “dignity” in courts. All a Muslim need do is assert some form of (unprovable) anguish (or a diminution of his mental and/or emotional well-being) as a result of the “inhuman” treatment of legitimate criticism, and is regarded as a virtual physical assault. There are irreconcilable differences between American law and Sharia, but Sharia, because it is a “religious” code, is frequently countenanced as a legitimate moral code that must not be amended or adulterated by secular law.

After all, secular or man-made law is an abomination in Islam. See “Three Things You(Probably) Did Not Know About Islam” at minute 3:58 for an explanation of this crucial facet of Islamic activism.

One would imagine, and with ample justification, that the purpose of these suits is to “divorce” Muslims from secular law, and to accord them “separate but equal” status. But there can be no feasible “separate but equal” relationship between a country’s secular law and Sharia. One or the other must sooner or later dominate. That is the inevitable nature of compromise. Any compromise would be secular law’s, not Islam’s, for Islamic doctrine forbidscompromise. Islamists are working assiduously to ensure that Sharia dominates, and if successful, they will with blaring trumpets and calls from the minarets announce the end of freedom of speech and the reign of “freedom from speech.”

Libel and Slander: These are two favorite terms employed by Islamist supremacists when charging critics of Islam with “hate speech” or “insensitivity.” One might “libel” or “defame” Islam, Mohammad, or Muslims by writing, broadcasting, or otherwise publishing in words or in recordings statements or images critical of Islam, Mohammad, or Muslims, yet “perceived” by Islamic authorities or lawyers as malicious or false or defamatory in nature, resulting in a loss of one of those overrated intangibles, “respect” or “esteem” or “dignity.” One might “slander” them by verbally making “false” or “malicious” statements. In both instances, the statements must be addressed to persons other than the subjects.

But the champions of Islam hunt for offense and insult, and are perfidious eavesdroppers, as well. They always manage to find something “hurtful.”

Islam is alleged to be an efficacious and powerful creed, yet it seems to be so sensitive to criticism as to be an ideological hypochondriac, always complaining about something. One expects it to succumb any day now. Mohammad, if he actually existed, has been dead 1,400 years, and so is beyond libel or slander. In point of fact, his personal and private life is a goldmine of supermarket tabloid gossip, much of it recorded telltale in the Koran and Hadith, sordidly reminiscent of the private lives of the Kennedy clan and Bill Clinton but far, far worse. The things revealed in Islamic documents about this “role model” constitute a rap sheet of serious felonies a mile long. He is a perfect subject to be ridiculed, mocked, or caricatured, as much as Adolf Hitler and Mussolini, and Neville Chamberlain. Or Barack Obama. Such a figure deserves contempt and hilarity, not “respect.”

As for Muslims, Mohammad is their icon and “prophet,” and if they revere his alleged “wisdom” (if not his image, for that is forbidden), neither are they deserving of respect. You stay away from people whom you learn idolize Al Capone, John Dillinger, and Bonnie and Clyde as paragons of virtue and goodness. You give the cold shoulder to people whom you know idolize a mass murderer, mass rapist, genocidal maniac, and slitter of throats and tongues and who threaten mayhem if you take his name in vain.

“Hate crimes” and “hate speech” are the weapons employed by Islamists and secular statists to silence their critics. They are the shipworms of objective law, burrowing randomly but determinedly through its timbers oblivious to the time when the judicial structure of law, weakened by a maze of rotting tunnels and gaping caverns, must someday collapse into anarchy and ultimately tyranny.

The champions of “hate crime” and “hate speech” know this. This is why freedom of speech must be upheld and defended with our utmost energy and dedication. For our own self-preservation, we must oppose turning the First Amendment into a felony offense.