Annals of Justice

In the English-speaking societies — which still include America, for now — we have this thing called a “hate crime.” There’s regular old assault, murder, and whatnot. And then there’s extra-bad assault, murder, and whatnot. You know how it works.

Out in Amish country, there’s been a rash of hate crimes. I mention this in Impromptus today. In these crimes, some Amish men are forcibly cutting the hair and beards of other Amish men. One of the criminals has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Fifteen years! As I say in my column, I didn’t know you could get 15 years for murder.

In Cambodia, the international tribunal has tried precisely one person for the crimes of the Khmer Rouge — crimes that were genocidal. His name is Comrade Duch. He presided over a prison called Tuol Sleng, where some 16,000 human beings were tortured to death. (Seven are known to have survived.) The court sentenced Comrade Duch to 35 years in prison, which was reduced to 19, owing to time already served in detention, plus a technicality. After an outcry, a higher chamber changed the sentence to life.

There’s no death penalty in Cambodia. (There’s not one in Israel either, but they made an exception for Eichmann.) Think of that 19 years! Just four more than for the hair- and beard-cutting.

A reader writes me, “Hey, Jay: You’ll remember that Mitt Romney and some of his friends cut the hair of that kid in high school. Good thing we didn’t elect that heinous criminal president!” Yeah, good thing. Instead we reelected the president of the Choom Gang.

Come to think of it, my dorm-mates in high school, college, and graduate school all spouted views just like Obama’s. They were on “choom” too. But, in later life, many of them sobered up. And none was elected president.

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