Governor Matt Bevin of Kentucky signed a bill last week that will make it a hate crime to target police officers. Unofficially known as the “Blue Lives Matter” bill, it will make Kentucky the second state – after Louisiana – to provide additional legal protection to officers and other first responders.
The law will not go into effect until this summer. When it does, special hate crime protections will go into effect for police officers, putting the badge in a special category that includes religion, race, sexual orientation, and nationality.
The bill won support from both Republicans and Democrats in the Kentucky legislature, though some on the left criticized the measure.
From the Louisville Courier-Journal:
Its opponents have said adding professions as protected classes could dilute the intent of Kentucky’s existing hate-crime law. The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky has suggested this new law potentially could be used to punish people who protest police brutality, and Chris Hartman of the Fairness Campaign has questioned why law enforcement is being added to the state’s hate-crime law when the legislature hasn’t done the same for transgender people yet.
As far as liberal arguments go, those three are pretty weak. You can perhaps make the case that our judicial system already makes certain that crimes against cops are punished severely enough to deter anyone who can be deterred, but that’s about all. “Dilute the intent” of the hate-crime laws? Punish those who protest? Something to do with transgender people? Come on. This crap doesn’t feed the dog.
Hate crime laws already ride the line between the effective and the absurd; why should clubbing some white dude over the head with a baseball bat carry lesser charges than taking that bat to a gay dude? It makes no sense. Anyone willing to serve the time that comes with aggravated assault is unlikely to be deterred by whatever hate crime charges come along with it. These laws are a lot like gun control measures; they may sound good, but they fall apart under the slightest scrutiny.
That said, if you’re going to make “hate crime laws” a thing, you may as well include police officers under the umbrella of protection. Because there’s no doubt that they are the subject of a hate movement – there are people out there who would like to kill police because of what they represent. We’ve seen it in Texas, Louisiana, New York City, and countless other cities. Perhaps this law wont dissuade anyone from their murderous intent, but maybe it will make the leaders of anti-police movements think twice about their rhetoric.