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Today’s must-read

NYTimes columnist Bill Keller puts hate crime laws under the microscope.

In most cases, hate crime laws take offenses that would carry more modest sentences — assault, vandalism — and ratchet up the penalty two or three times because we know, or think we know, what evil disposition lurked in the offender’s mind. Then we pat ourselves on the back. As if none of us, pure and righteous citizens, ever entertained a racist thought or laughed at a homophobic slur.

Bias laws are widely accepted. They are understandable. They are probably here to stay. But they seem to me a costly form of sanctimony.

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