Combating hate crimes is a worthy endeavor. But the new campaign announced by Attorney General Dana Nessel has the real potential to morph into thought policing.
Nessel, in partnership with Agustin Arbulu, director of the Michigan Department of Civil rights, say they will create a process to document incidents of hate and bias that don’t rise to the level of criminal or civil infractions.
That could translate to speech or expressions of opinion that some may find offensive, but are protected by the First Amendment. Bias is protected by the Constitution until it infringes on the rights and freedoms of others, and hate is often in the eye of the beholder.
If what Nessel and Arbulu are targeting are words, thoughts and opinions, this could easily become a weapon to shut down groups they find abhorrent, but are operating within the law.
That’s not the charge of their offices.
There’s reason to worry that’s the direction this will take.
Nessel says she’ll start her surveillance with the 31 Michigan organizations that appear on the Southern Poverty Legal Center’s list of hate groups.