Readers have made it clear, both through comments and even more so through e-mails, that they do not like my position on Stanislav Shmulevich. He is the fellow who stole a Koran from Pace University, stuffed it in a toilet, and defecated on it. He then stole another one, and simply stuffed it in the toilet.
I have been told that somehow this is a free speech issue, but I don't get it. A regular commenter, Rick, is someone who probably has a bible in his house. If I were to enter his house, take the bible off the shelf, stick it in his toilet, and then defecate - I don't think he would see it as a free speech issue at all.
Pace University is a private school. The Korans he destroyed were not his property. He stole them. As I understand it, he was not even a student at the school when he did this. If I were to buy an American Flag, take it to a public square, and burn it in a safe manner; one that poses no risk to anyone else's private property- we're talking free speech. If I sneak into your house, steal your American flag and set it ablaze in the bedroom where your child is sleeping, we're no longer talking about free speech.
While some of the anger by the likes of Johnson and Malkin is typically and clearly phony, others have problems with the "hate crime" aspect of the case. I can understand disliking a law that relies so heavily on 'intent'. Even though much of our legal system does depend on an analysis of the intent of the accused, it is important that we not become a country where having certain thoughts could be a crime. But whether or not you like the law, it is the law in New York, and Stanislav was no doubt aware of its existence. He was not merely stealing a book or jamming a toilet, he was doing so because of his hatred of a group of people. I don't know his position on hate crime law, but I do know that many Jewish groups have fought for such laws.
Among the Jewish signatories are the American Jewish Committee; American Jewish Congress; Anti-Defamation League; Hadassah: the Women's Zionist Organization of America; Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A; Jewish Women International; Jewish Council for Public Affairs; Jewish Labor Committee; Na'amat U.S.A.; National Council of Jewish Women; National Jewish Democratic Council; Union of American Hebrew Congregations and Women of Reform Judaism.
(thanks to memeorandum)