How much should we punish people for hateful thoughts?
Consider someone who screams, "Hitler should have finished you off," for example, while committing a crime against a Jew. Or a person who uses the N-word while assaulting a black person. Or an evildoer who adds insult to injury by using the C-word on his victim while raping her. Should these criminals pay a more severe penalty than other thugs who used the same degree of violence but said nothing?
Yes, if there are hate crimes on the books; no, if a person should be punished only for crimes, but not for his speech.
Then there is that matter of hateful thoughts, or hate speech unconnected with any crime whatsoever. The way charges in this matter are bruited about, this means, simply, saying anything, or, indeed, thinking something, with which the progressive, liberal leftist disagrees. Thus, it is hateful, deserving of dire if not criminal punishment, to discuss the benefits of I.Q. tests, to deny that the minimum wage needs to be increased, to oppose labor unions, to excuse the male-female wage gap, etc. Where is John Stuart Mill of "On Liberty" when we need him? He was once a hero of the left, but, sadly, no more. That was during the era when the free speech rights of the Hollywood left were under threat. I suppose it all depends on whose ox is being gored.
Suppose there were a machine that could discern racist, sexist, or anti-Semitic loathing. We come across someone who seethes with indignation against Jews, blacks, or females, but he has never so much as lifted a finger against anyone. Stipulate that he will never engage in any such action, whether from cowardice or an ethic that forbids the initiation of violence against anyone, even targets of his detestation. According to the "hate is a crime doctrine," such a person ought to be imprisoned forthwith. This seems highly unjust, however.
There was an infamous march of Nazis in Skokie, Illinois in 1978. No magic mechanism was needed to establish that the participants were a hateful group of people. Should they have been punished for their mere thoughts? It is difficult to make that case. It is the same for people who refuse to declare the "Black Lives Matter" slogan and insist, instead, that "All Lives Matter."
All of us, with the exception of a few saints, have had hateful thoughts wash over them from time to time. Were we to extrapolate from this fact, and couple it with the logic of hate crimes, pretty much all of us would now be in jail.
Yes, by all means, punish, and punish severely, those who engage in assault and battery against others or rape, or murder, or kidnapping, or theft or carjacking or any other of the hundreds of other crimes that humans commit against one another. But ignore completely whether they do this hatefully or not. At least in the Mafia movies, perpetrators of crimes are often heard to say, as they commit mayhem, "This is just business." In other words, they have no hate whatsoever as they do their dirty deeds. Should this let them off with lesser penalties when caught? Yes, according to the hate thought doctrine. But not on the basis of elemental notions of justice.