Friday, September 03, 2004

Cross Burning Teenagers Plead Guilty

Two Kentucky teenagers plead guilty yesterday to federal charges stemming from the burning of a cross in a local African-American family's yard. The two face up to 10 years in prison.

Several things are bothersome about this.

Christianity: use of the cross as a symbol of hate. Every Christian should be outraged - to the point of action - by such contrary use of their faith.

Teenage Perpetrators: who do you think taught these kids to hate like this? Their parents? Their community? Surely both. It is not mere coincidence that they chose a burning cross as their symbol... they had to learn what that meant from somewhere. But it isn't just the haters that are to blame - what about all those people that heard these kids making racial epithets without ever punishing them or telling them that it was wrong? Social sin is caused by inaction, too.

At least it is a sign that progress has been made to some degree. How?

Federal prosecutors brought the charges. This is important because (a) the young men would only have faced misdemeanor charges (punishable by up to a year in prison) in state court, and (b) it shows that people are serious about ending hate crimes. Do you think such steps would have been taken in Kentucky 50 years ago?


At 6:13 PM, Blogger jrl20 said...

Don't you think losing a decade of their lives for such stupidity is a little bit excessive? Dare I say retributive and vengeful?

At 4:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David Niewert has much to say about where these youth are learning from. Check out his blog at

Orcinusor find his book Death on the Fourth of July that just came out.

At 2:12 PM, Blogger Pissed Off Girl said...

Yes, losing a decade of one's life for cross burning is, indeed, retributive and vengeful. Moreover, would these boys have been handed the same sentence if they had burned a paper bag of dog shit on that lawn? I doubt it. It is the symbolic use of the cross that has the system so enraged with these boys. Do we really want to punish people based on their use of symbolic language within the commission of a crime?


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