The Emmett Till Antilynching Act
Harmless virtue signaling or subtle expansion of executive power?
On Tuesday, President Biden signed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act into law. Much to the pro-lynching community’s dismay, this was a pivotal milestone for the Biden Administration’s mission to establish racial equity. His social media team took to Twitter for a well-deserved victory lap:
Given that the last documented lynching took place in 1981, this couldn’t have come soon enough!
There were, however, some closet-racists who “just couldn’t help” but demonstrate their support for lynching:
Jokes aside, let’s discuss the law in greater detail. It sailed through senate and the House with ease. The tactful naming made the bill radioactive to contend, which is why 422 congressmen voted in favor while only 3 opposed. Sound rationale, like that displayed in Congressman Thomas Massie’s opposition statement, was tossed aside in a bid to appear virtuous.
Here is the bill - the highlighted portion is the important part:
The bill amends the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, passed in 2009, which defines and criminalizes hate crimes. The minimum qualification is “an attempt to cause bodily injury” due to the victim’s race, sexual orientation, gender, or religion. Bodily injury can be defined as “physical pain” or “any other injury to the body, no matter how temporary.” Sensibly, the Act requires an attempt at violence be made - which is a crime itself regardless of prejudiced motives. The new Antilynching Law takes this a step further by criminalizing “conspiracy” to commit a hate crime.
I’m sure someone will retort: conspiracy to commit a federal crime is already a federal crime. This is not a universally accepted interpretation of conspiracy law nor does the law’s language or historical precedent justify such a broad interpretation - hence the ostensible necessity for the new Antilynching Law. Criminalized conspiracies are those plotting “against the United States” - like the Volkswagen executives who attempted to defraud the EPA by faking emission results and, more recently, the leader of the Oath Keepers who plead guilty to seditious conspiracy for his part in the January 6 riots.
So as of Tuesday, it is illegal to simply “agree” to participate in an act if it falls under the categories highlighted above. One can imagine dark political humor venturing into these categories - a comment such as “I hate so-and-so so much I could kill him” - being interpreted as “conspiring to lynch”. The key issue here is that intent should not be the sole subject of a court case. The purpose of courts is for a neutral arbiter to determine whether someone’s rights were violated during an encounter between two parties. Conspiracy, if no action is taken in pursuit of it, involves only one party: the conspirators. Therefore, it alone constitutes no crime as it couldn’t have possibly violated someone else’s rights.
With this new law, the US government has further expanded into the realm of policing thought crimes. Ominously, this law comes on the heels of the Department of Homeland Security’s attempts to broaden the term “terrorist” and expand methods for identifying them. For those unaware, killings attributed to domestic extremists in 2020/21 were less than half what they were in each of the previous five years and white supremacists contributed a lesser portion to the domestic-extremist-murder-pie than in those previous years (they previously contributed over 50% of killings and currently do not). Overall there were only 29 killings in 2021 (less than 14 from white supremacists). Despite this, we continue to hear fear mongering from those in power:
FBI Director Christopher Wray - “The problem of domestic terrorism has been metastasizing across the country for a number of years.” (Source)
Attorney General Merrick Garland - “Domestic violent extremists pose an elevated threat in 2021, and in the FBI’s view, the top domestic violent extremist threat we face comes from racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists, specifically those who advocate for the superiority of the white race.” (Source)
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas - “Domestic violent extremism poses the most lethal and persistent terrorism-related threat to our country today.” (Source)
White House Briefing Room press release - “The two most lethal elements of today’s domestic terrorism threat are (1) racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists who advocate for the superiority of the white race and (2) anti-government or anti-authority violent extremists, such as militia violent extremists.” (Source)
It’s a mountain-out-of-a-mole-hill on par with the “Don’t Say Gay” hysteria. Though, this one may have far greater consequences down the road as texts, emails, social media posts, and everyday speech are monitored and analyzed by various three-letter agencies to establish the intent of our discourse. The Emmett Till Act may become a key piece in the arsenal for the US intelligence community’s war on free speech.