If you hadn’t heard the news that charges against Jussie Smollett for filing a false police report were dropped then you aren’t paying attention. The case tickled the fancies of the two main sides in our political spectrum and unfolding events proved interesting to this Libertarian. I’ll review for those not fully up on the Smollett case.
Smollett reported being physically assaulted during which racial insults were used and a noose was placed around his neck. In the course of the investigation Chicago police eventually determined that Smollett actually paid his supposed attackers presumably in some sort of publicity scheme. After the case was turned over to prosecutors, they dropped charges when Smollett agreed to forfeit his bond money.
Now for the Libertarian take on matters. After reports of the original assault, democrats largely called for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to step in and treat it as a hate crime. When the evidence began to shift, they fell silent. Meanwhile, Republicans had no interest in the federal government getting involved in a local assault case. When charges were dropped, they immediately wanted federal involvement to punish Smollett for his crimes.
This is essentially a microcosm of the belief system of the people associated with our two main political parties. They want as much federal intervention in your life as possible as long as they are punishing or rewarding people they consider enemies or friends. When such federal intervention goes against their interests, they immediately fall silent. This is the problem with giving federal and even state government power over such matters. It is only a matter of time before someone uses that power to punish enemies or reward allies. Both are bad.
Assault is assault whether or not someone hated the victim because they are part of a particular group. I’m completely opposed to hate crimes in general and the local police should handle such matters. Likewise, decisions to prosecute or not should be left completely up to the prosecuting attorney in the particular municipality. They can best determine what should be done, not an overreaching federal government intent on punishing perceived enemies.
I’m certainly not pretending that injustice doesn’t happen. That a prosecuting attorney in a case might give preferential treatment to a friend or use her or his power to punish an enemy. We have a remedy for such incidents and it’s called the Judicial Branch. All is not perfect and corrupt officials do considerable harm at the local and state level, I admit as much. Still, it is my opinion the harm they can inflict locally pales in comparison to the harm that can be done by federal authorities with unlimited funds and a grudge.
As things stand, it appears to me that Democrats and Republicans alike consider federal power a useful bludgeon to be used indiscriminately to reward and punish. I disagree.