The Ham Sandwich Hate Crime?

When is a failure to respect the deep religious beliefs of a group regarded as a hate crime? In the state of Maine, we have an answer, one that ought to provoke outrage. In today's America, some groups are more equal than others, and media and local authorities seem unified in accepting this as fair, just, and normal.

Although the national media has been virtually silent on the subject, Lewiston, Maine has been rocked by a controversy over an alleged hate crime at the local high school cafeteria. Lewiston, you see, has become the host community for over 2000 Somali refugees, a very large number for a community as small as Lewiston (population approximately 36,000, with another 20,000 in neighboring towns including Auburn*). So when a student tossed a ham sandwich on a table in the cafeteria where a group of Somalian students were sitting, all hell broke loose.

That small community has see front-page newspaper stories, one student suspended and others under suspicion, with the Lewiston Police opening an  investigation and (of course) something called the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence is working with the school to create a response plan. Ultimately, the determination was made that it was not a hate crime, but the degree of seriousness with which this rather stupid and petty act was treated sends its own message. 
The blogger Bookworm provides some needed perspective:
Americans, especially students, find it hysterically funny to throw food.  Heck, this propensity has been enshrined in several movies, starting with Laurel and Hardy, and moving up to the present time, with Animal House being a great recent example.  While there's usually an element of aggression in throwing food at people, for the most part Americans consider it a great sport.  (Indeed, back in the 1960s, my concentration camp experienced mother was absolutely horrified to learn that, at my sister's junior high school, an egg toss was considered a perfect fund raiser.  She quickly got the PTA to put a stop to that kind of food waste
Blogger Tom McLaughlin, who writes opinion columns for several Maine newspapers, provides an excellent post on the incident and quickly gets to the meat (if you will) of the question:
There have been no reports I know of about how Muslims may be offended by classes teaching that homosexual behavior is normal and natural. Several public schools sponsor assemblies in which homosexual and transgender behaviors are natural too. Certainly there have been no front page headlines. Jews and Christians may be offended by such material also but our media is virtually silent about it.
He goes on to point out that in fact Christian students at various high schools have themselves been persecuted for daring to even voice their religious objections to homosexual behavior:

A week after the ham incident, over five thousand public schools across the country observed a "Day of Silence" in support of homosexuality. Students at all these schools were encouraged to be silent for a day to protest purported harassment of gay and lesbian students. They were also encouraged to wear T-shirts and buttons supporting homosexuality. Events of this nature have been sponsored by public schools for more than ten years. Though no homosexuals were harassed that day, Christian students who were offended by the school's orchestration of homosexual propaganda were. After peacefully expressing their opposition to what they consider brainwashing, dozens were suspended in several districts around California. In the Sacramento area, more than three thousand students stayed home to avoid exposure to pro-homosexual indoctrination. According to the Catholic news service
Other students concerned about the one-sided messages determined to wear clothing and distribute literature which peacefully highlighted the dangers of homosexuality. Dozens of religious students were disciplined for expressing their viewpoints at Inderkum, Rio Linda and San Juan high schools.
McLaughlin points out that it was not the eating of ham sandwiches that got the Lewiston students in trouble (that is still legal, for now - but don't try this in Saudi Arabia), but rather the flaunting of ham - bringing it into close proximity in a manner intended to offend. But that is precisely the sort of behavior that is not just tolerated but indeed encouraged when it comes to offending those who have religious objections to homosexuality.
Let me go ont eh record here: I think it was a boorish act of the Maine students to put the ham sandwich on the table. It was rude and offensive. Some punishment - perhaps an admonition for the first offense - was in order. To call in a group with the title "hate violence" in its name and open a police file is overkill.

But the same goes for students who flaunt their sexuality (any sexuality!) in schools.

In today's America, we have elevated some groups to a position of dominance over others, when we insist that their religious sensitivities be respected, while those of other groups are repressed by school authorities. A transparent agenda is at work, one that seeks to punish the religious beliefs of the majority of Americans while exaggerating the regard that must be paid to a minority's beliefs. Breaking the hold of Christianity on the majority populace is a priority who seek to transform America into a very different kind of country.

I await the appearnce of a Muslim imam in Lewiston or Minneapolis who would fire up his adherents in the cause of expressing offense at public displays of homosexuality in the schools. The sound of "progressive" heads explosing would be music to my ears. I am likely to wait a long time, however, because the game being played is obvious, and the time is not yet right. Dhimmitude comes one step at a time.

Hat tip: Richard Baehr

*Thanks to an alert reader who caught my mistake in referring to Auburn as the state capital. I was indeed thinking of Augusta when I wrote that.

Thomas Lifson is editor and publisher of American Thinker.