Likelihood of Success

Ron Coleman’s pretty good blog

Nice ox you got there

Posted by Ron Coleman on January 3, 2008

Are conservatives and libertarians now in favor of enhanced penalties for “hate crimes”? Instapundit updates this story, which has gotten a ton of play on the blogs:

JAY GRODNER UPDATE: The story of the lawyer charged with having “keyed” a Marine’s car just before the Marine left for Iraq has now made the Chicago Tribune.

Yes, the guy who seems to have done this seems to be an utter creep. Yes, he deserves, morally, for bad things to happen to him. I’d fire him if he worked for me, discharge him if he were my lawyer, and block his IP from my blog comments.

But he keyed a guy’s car. As tempting as it is to imagine what you’d do if you were the judge, how you’d throw the book at him for being such a self-hating American, how is this different from applying sentence enhancements to people convicted of assault when they are found to have committed their crimes due to politically incorrect animus such as racial or religious prejudice, which conservatives and libertarians generally oppose (as I do).

It’s a complex issue — but let’s both recognize that it’s implicated here, and that, for a change, many of us are getting a taste of how it feels in your gut when someone lashes out at you for what you are or what you believe, and they’ve been stupid enough to do it in a way that puts them in a position of being punished by the state.

UPDATE:  Am I a prophet, or what?  Same link:

UPDATE: Reader David Emerson emails:

Glenn- FYI. Since placing a American flag decal (perhaps 3″x5″) on the rear window of my SUV, it’s been keyed twice and has had its windows gratuitously smashed several times too. I’m here the city which so prides itself on tolerance….San Francisco….it could be the antiwar crowd or the anti-SUV crowd simply becoming more hostile. Wonder if others have experienced the same thing.

I’m no fan of hate crime legislation…but next time this happens may report it as one and see what happens.


19 Responses to “Nice ox you got there”

  1. Ken said

    I think there’s an important point here, Ron. I don’t hold with thought crime law, and I’m not entirely comfortable with “special victim” laws (police, government officials, etc.). I grant you that there’s a nice “hoist with your own petard” touch of schadenfreude with respect to the accused, but there are better ways to oppose thought crime law than the object lesson.

  2. Wince and Nod said

    Well, it was $5400 worth of damage, I read. No hate crime needed.


  3. zombyboy said

    I don’t want him punished extra-special punishy for being a jerk, I just want him punished for vandalizing another person’s property.

    What does that have to do with hate crime laws or sentence enhancements? There isn’t much complication in this one: either he did or didn’t key the man’s car. If he did, then he is guilty of vandalism and he deserves the legal penalties of his actions. If he didn’t do it, then he’s just guilty of being an ass in a public space and deserves no punishment other than scorn. Seems simple to me.

    I’m not sure I’m grasping your point.

  4. john said

    IANAL, but i believe you are, Ron, so feel free to correct me if I go astray.

    First, so far as I am aware there is no ‘special punishment’ being imposed by any law in this case. It’s a misdemeanor case and while the top punishments are certainly unappealing, there’s little chance a judge would slap Grodner with the maximum penalty available.

    Second, the approbation heaped on Grodner is mostly due to the impression that he’s a jerk. It’s enhanced by the fact that he’s a lawyer with a spotty reputation who will likely skate away from this solely because the Marine in question is now being deployed to Iraq and cannot pursue the case. Add to it the notion that Grodner is ostensibly an officer of the court who should know better and it makes heaping scorn upon him pretty irresistible.

    I read in another thread on this topic that the Marine should drop the charges and file a small claims case (assuming $2400 falls under the small claims statute). There is a federal law preventing such cases from being dismissed while servicemen are deployed oversees. Is that correct?

  5. naftali said

    My guess is that the desire to punish these types of crimes more severely is because, generally,
    we do not punish crimes severely enough.

  6. Naftali sort of has it. What a lot of bloggers, and people commenting on blogs, are expressing — and what I found myself saying this morning as I thought about it was — “Let’s show that SOB! The nerve he has to do this! Why, if I were the judge, I would…” And in fact, I realized that in fact we have a desire (I’m not saying anyone in law enforcement has suggested this) to punish him out of proportion for the crime, because of the offensiveness of his motivation.

  7. I don’t think there’s any contradiction here, actually. If you don’t like hate crime laws, you should demand that they be strictly enforced against lefties. That will be more likely to lead to their repeal than any reasoned argument against them.

  8. There’s no contradiction necessary, Glenn, I agree: Good for the goose, etc. We who oppose the concept, however, should recognize how easily it creeps into our own thinking — that desire to lash out and punish offenders for what is in their minds more harshly than we are inclined to punish the mindless. It’s ugly, and, of course, here at Likelihood of Success we’re all about appealing to our better selves!

  9. Tim Kindred said


    For myself, I would sue in small claims court and then file a complaint with the State Bar regarding the lawyer’s conduct. I abhor hate-crime laws on all levels.

    As to small claims court, if I were to sue him and were on active duty, I’d also appear in my dress uniform, just to add to the PR factor.

    Please understand that though the idiot happens to be a lawyer, anyone in a public position automatically must hold themselves to a higher standard, and expect a harsher view from the courts and public opinions if they err. Whether he was a lawyer, a police officer, a fireman, etc, these are folks we place significant trut in, people we depend upon to keep society running smoothly.


  10. Hank Barnes said

    Thumbs down on “hate-crimes.” Crime is crime, period.


  11. jan said

    While I disagree with hate-crime laws, I certainly hold public officials to a higher standard (I hold myself to one after all), but as an attorney, even a private one, he obviously knows better. What is bothersome here is that he’ll get away with it, and aided by his knowledge of the law.

  12. I don’t know if the bar ethics authorities would find they had jurisdiction or any legitimate interest in this. I could be wrong, though.

  13. jan said

    A bit more discussion here. Someone in the comments makes a point about this sort of thing being an attack on social order too: “[U]ndermining of society behind false moral facades.”

    Anyway, interesting discussion.

  14. Which sort of thing — the vandalism or hate crimes legislation?

  15. Correction, not $5400 damage, but $2400 damage, and reputedly a felony.


  16. Naftali sort of has it. What a lot of bloggers, and people commenting on blogs, are expressing — and what I found myself saying this morning as I thought about it was — “Let’s show that SOB! The nerve he has to do this! Why, if I were the judge, I would…” And in fact, I realized that in fact we have a desire (I’m not saying anyone in law enforcement has suggested this) to punish him out of proportion for the crime, because of the offensiveness of his motivation.

    Well, here are two possible motivations behind our anger:

    1. We are angry because someone who was sacrificially serving was attacked because of his service. This is a pretty righteous motivation.

    2. We are angry because a guy who is really on our side, an American, fighting for a cause who believe in was attacked because he is not only like us, but in other ways he is as we wish to be. Furthermore he was attacked by a guy who is really not on our side, an UnAmerican. In other words, from loyalty to one of our guys and emnity towards one of our enemies.

    Let’s consider number two. I suspect it is truly one of the motivations for our anger and that it is truly one of the motivations for hate crimes laws. I suspect it is also truly one of the motivations for hate crimes themselves.


  17. Well put, as usual, Wince.

  18. Dick said

    Edited for language. — RDC
    Why BLOGGERS should SUE Jay Grodner

    I first thought of this as satire, but the more I think about it, this insane idea may work, considering just how [screwy] the legal system has become because of [unpleasant fellows] like Grodner. Here’s my brilliant idea.


    All over the blogeshere there have been perhaps thousands of man hours used in the pursuit of the story of Grodner and his famous key. It stands to reason that Grodner is a Union Man, or at least a Union supporter and following that logic, Grodner must want those who do a lot of work compensated for that work. Considering all the time and money that have gone into looking up Grodners address, his phone number, his sex postings, and other stuff (someone even attended Grodner’ trial, which had to be expensive) it’s reasonable to expect PAYMENT for this service. SO, bloggers who have written about this SHOULD BE PAID. Lawyers make a minimum of one hundred bucks and hour and that’s the cheap ones, so, all bloggers and others who have helped shed light on this subject on the internet need to band together and SUE Grodner for payment. At 100 bucks and hour times the number of times Grodner’s name has appeared on blogs, that number will be about half the national debt. A class action suit against Grodner and any partners he has would tie up the system and Grodner himself for infinity.

  19. […] is that really what we believe when it happens to “our […]

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