Sunday, July 11, 2004

France's Vincent Chin 

Remember Vincent Chin? Probably not -- even I couldn't remember him by name. But I will always remember the case of the Chinese American murdered by a couple of laid-off autoworkers in 1982. These UAW losers beat Chin with baseball bats only because they "thought he was Japanese," as if that were somehow exculpatory. But the Japanese were to blame for everything in that time and place, so the Michigan judge of the case, one Charles Kaufmann, bought their pile of horsepucky and sentenced the killers to three years probation and $3000 fines. I was at Michigan Law School when Judge Kaufmann passed his sentence.

Bad facts make bad law. The Chin case probably persuaded a lot of people that we needed special hate crimes statutes, which are themselves a very bad idea. But that's a different rant.

Now it looks as though France is staring at its own fumbled hate crime, a case of mistaken Jewishness:
A young woman and her baby were attacked in a suburban train near Paris on Saturday by unidentified men who drew swastikas on her stomach with a pen in what police said was an anti-Semitic assault.

The six attackers who were armed with knives clipped the 23-year-old woman's hair, and cut her t-shirt and pants before drawing three swastikas on her body.

The men of North African origin also overturned the pram with her baby of 13 months....

Police said the attackers erroneously assumed the woman was Jewish because she was living in Paris' posh 16th district.

"Only Jews live in the 16th district," one of the men was quoted as having said.

There was no murder here, but I'm guessing that even so the French will give these North African Nazis a stiffer sentence than the Michigan courts imposed on the killers of Vincent Chin. If they catch the bastards at all.

UPDATE (7-12-04 9:00 PM EDT): Wretchard points to news stories that suggest the attack might not have happened, and the complaint a fraud.


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