Wednesday, 18 December 2002

Hate Crime Hoax Redux

(Via Glenn Reynolds) Michelle Malkin talks about the Ole Miss hate crime hoax. I briefly noted it earlier in a sea of Lott postings. (A Daily Mississippian report is here.) To summarize: a number of African-American students had racist graffiti drawn on their dorm room doors during the "Open Doors" celebration of James Meredith's integration of the University of Mississippi; after an investigation, the perpetrators turned out to be African-American friends of the victims, rather than racists.

I somewhat disagree with Malkin's premise, though; hoaxes or pranks usually don't earn the perpetrator the punishment that genuine crimes do, unless death or injury results, whether the events are racially charged or not. However, the students involved ought to be punished and the university community ought to seriously consider how different this offense is to the blackface incident at Ole Miss last year that resulted in a one-year ban for Alpha Tao Omega. (The ATO incident largely revolved around a single photograph from a Halloween party; no black students were directly threatened, so in some ways the recent hoax is more egregious.)

For what it's worth, the Daily Mississippian editorial board is calling for the students involved to be expelled, the maximum punishment that's still on the table.

I'm not convinced that expulsion is appropriate for a first offense, no matter the races of the perpetrators, but that's my opinion (my authority on such matters is nonexistent). However, if the university is serious about Zero Tolerance (not a policy I'm fond of, but precedent suggests it), I think in light of the ATO punishment, for an arguably similar offense, the students involved ought to be thrown out, at least for a year. The students also ought to apologize publicly and the university community deserves to know their identities, regardless of any other penalties.

Patrick Carver comments. So does Radley Balko.