The Fierce Hypocrisy of Hate Crime Proponents
[Warning: Contains graphic description of despicable acts.]
Late on Friday night in June, 1998, James Byrd Jr., was at his niece’s bridal shower in Jasper Texas. He was disabled and could not afford a car of his own, so he walked home, as he did almost everywhere. At around 2:30 a.m., three men, Shawn Allen Berry, John William King, and Lawrence Russell Brewer offered him a ride in their pick up truck.
Instead of taking him home, they took Byrd to a remote country road and savagely beat him unconscious. They urinated on him to revive him, and then tied his ankles to a 24.5 foot chain, and dragged him for over three miles. A subsequent autopsy revealed that Byrd was alive during the heinous dragging. Trying desperately to keep his head up, he sheared the flesh from his elbows, exposing the bone. The coroner testified that Byrd was killed at the end of the torture, when he slammed into a culvert and was decapitated.
Berry, King and Brewer were tried and convicted in 1999. Berry, who maintains his innocence, is serving life in prison and spends 23 hours a day in an 8×6 foot cell. King and Brewer were sentenced to death. On Tuesday, 13 years later, Brewer again confirmed his guilt, saying he had no regrets, and would do it all again. Last night, the State of Texas carried out its solemn duty, did humanity a favor and rid the world of Lawrence Russell Brewer.
The case, understandably, shocked the world. There were immediate calls for hate crimes legislation. George W. Bush, then governor of Texas and a candidate for president, was criticized for not backing the subsequent James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act. The criticism followed Mr. Bush into his presidency, where he was criticized by Brian Williams and others for his “record on race,” including failure to support hate crimes legislation. Bush’s response to these critics was that first, a murder is no less heinous because it’s not motivated by race, color or creed of the victim; and second, when you commit murder in Texas, you frequently get the death penalty or life in prison. What enhanced penalties could there be? State required excommunication?
Nonetheless, the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act, which provides resources for prosecution and enhanced penalties for “hate crimes,” was in fact signed into law in 2001 by Bush’s successor, Rick Perry. You may have heard that name before in connection with Brian Williams. Earlier this month, Rick Perry was asked by the same Brian Williams if he can sleep at night know that he has put 234 people to death–more than any other governor. The audience applauded, confounding Williams and undermining his liberal premise.
So which is it–support more stringent sentences for people who commit hate crimes, or stop short of the death penalty. In Texas, a state that takes every crime very seriously, you cannot have both. The two questions, then that I would ask Mr. Williams and those like him, who support hate crimes legislation, but not the death penalty are:
- What do you propose to do to Lawrence Brewer’s corpse to punish him for his hate crime?
- Would you sleep better at night if Brewer, King and Berry walk free?
That’s not hyperbole, King’s sentence is on appeal, and Berry is up for parole in 2038.