I’d like to post some concerns I have about hate crimes and Caboodle Ranch. I’m not a professional writer, so please forgive any errors I make as I’m writing this out of concern due to the increase in hate crimes in this country. Thank you in advance for allowing me to voice my opinion.
Back in 2009, the U.S. Senate passed the Matthew Shepherd Hate Crimes Prevention Act that would allow the death penalty as a possible sentence to certain hate crimes. As a native Washingtonian (Washington, D.C.), I had the opportunity to speak with those senators involved in passing this act.
Until the passing of this act, hate crimes were defined as crimes against not only race, color, religion and national origin, but also certain bias-motivated crimes based on the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability. This definition has been expanded to include many additional circumstances, all circulating around hate for an individual or group.
The Matthew Shepherd Hate Crimes Prevention Act also gives the U.S. federal government jurisdiction over prosecuting hate crimes in areas where the current law is lax or the local police refuse to protect an individual or group.
The first conviction under this new law occurred when a federal jury convicted an Arkansas man back in May of 2011 for hate crimes committed against five Hispanic men who were verbally abused at a service station. The abuse spilled over into road rage which ended with all five of the Hispanic men being injured after being forced off of the road. Although this was a different kind of motivation, it all stems from hate.
This is the type of hate now being directed at Caboodle Ranch in Lee, Florida by people who don’t want to wait on the courts to do their job. Hate crimes, as defined by wikipedia, include lynching and witch hunts. I’ve read information from both sides of the case against Caboodle Ranch. Actions being taken by an individual or group of individuals could easily be seen as a hate crime as threats of death are involved. It’s also alleged people who wish to support the ranch and have publicly announced their support are also receiving threats.
According to the Nizkor project, one of the most common reasons people commit hate crimes is “the primal emotions aroused by the love of one’s own group. These deep feelings of group identity are particularly vivid in times of economical and political uncertainty and among people who suffered emotional neglect as children.”1
As a retired psychiatrist, I agree with the Nizkor project findings.
It may be difficult proving a hate crime has been committed unless extreme violence has taken place. It is, however, illegal in the U.S. to send threatening mail using the U.S. Postal Service. Federal Law makes it a crime to hurt someone if the threat is sent by “interstate commerce.” This includes the U.S. Postal Service, email, or otherwise over the internet2. They are punishable by fines, jail or both, depending on severity.
The U.S. Secret Service takes cyber threats seriously and acts alongside the Internet Crime Prevention Center in finding those guilty and prosecuting them.
I hope I don’t upset your readers at this fine cat site. If I do then I apologize. As a new subscriber I found it necessary to warn your readers that not everyone who loves cats love people. In fact, I find the opposite to be true in the Caboodle Ranch case. I’ve been watching the case these past few weeks and find myself sickened on some of the goings-on taking place outside of the courtroom.
Caboodle Ranch is a popular topic these days. Their Facebook page at Caboodle Ranch, Inc. as well as their opponents at Caboodle’s Angels, Caboodle Ranch Cruelty Case Info and www.caboodleranch.net have both sides of the issue covered quite well. I find myself amazed at the hate people feel for this one man. Now I’ve read Craig Grant and his supporters are receiving death threats. Our country, based on the legal belief “innocent until proven guilty” has gotten out of control, thanks to the internet.
Is this the work of only a few enraged members of one or another of these sites, or are there hundreds out there who wish him death. Never mind this is a decision for the courts to decide in a few weeks. Do those making threats against Caboodle Ranch in the form of letters and other internet activity realize they could face a fine and/or face jail time. Is this a game to them? Do these persecutors have nothing better to do with their time? I find this all very sickening to think these haters could be my friends or neighbor’s.
In this day of modern science, fingerprints as well as DNA evidence can be lifted from envelopes. IP addresses and internet sites can also easily be traced back to their creator. Those found guilty should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I believe this not as a supporter of either side, but because many tend to think of the internet as a make believe world where anything is legal. Threatening someone harm through any means is wrong and those doing it must be stopped.
I feel the Caboodle Ranch case will go down in history due to the controversy it’s created by pitting one cat lover against another. It may also become famous as those against the ranch who threaten to physically harm Craig Grant, his staff and his followers could be prosecuted under the Matthew Shepherd Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Especially since several hate crimes have made headlines this year.
Regardless, it’s up to the legal system to inflict punishment. Individuals on a hate mission have no right to claim they love cats. When such a group acts on their own as judge, jury and prosecutor, it shows they are of lesser intelligence than those they are out to harm. It also shows serious disrespect of our legal system, which I admit is far from perfect. We, as American citizens, have the legal obligation to allow the courts to punish those found guilty of a crime based on the decision of a judge and jury. Anything else is barbaric. And illegal.
Washington, D.C., United States