Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 277
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for February 10, 2005

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

Back in December, a racial incident apparently occurred at a local establishment. It stayed low-key until publicized in a letter to the editor, but now is certainly getting a lot of attention. While the complete details of the incident are not available, we do know that a person was charged with disorderly conduct in conjunction with it. We would hope that the actual details, along with the police report, become available with that person's court appearance.

In addition to the charges filed, the aggrieved parties should look at several additional available remedies. The incident took place in a place of public accommodation and, if the letter to the editor is correct, the owner of that place forced the victims to change venues for a reception. That could very well be a violation of the public accommodations portions of our civil rights laws, as well as a possible breach of contract. Both could leave the owner liable for various civil damages.

An additional action for any concerned citizens would to be to boycott the establishment involved. Its identity was pretty obvious to those familiar with Warrensburg. While I don't use that place anyway, I certainly doubt if Id recommend it.

The action I'd hate to see would be for the city to pass a "hate crimes" ordinance, something that increases penalties for a criminal act based on the purported motivation of the person who commits the act. People should be punished for what they do, not what they think. I do not see why a crime committed for money or jealousy is any less heinous than the identical crime committed because the criminal disliked the victim's race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.

In most cases, judges have a range of penalties available for any particular act and can apply them appropriately to the circumstance; we pay them for using this discretion. If the facts reported in this case are borne out, one would hope that the judge sends an appropriate message.

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