Obviously unfamiliar with the term that wouldn't be coined until years later, Keitel's character brilliantly replied, "As opposed to an 'I really really like you crime'?"
I couldn't help but recall that scene upon reading press coverage about a murder last month in Paris, Texas where a black man was allegedly run over and dragged to death by two white guys in a pickup truck, an incident that's being compared in the press to the infamous dragging death of James Byrd in Jasper. The victim's mother called it a "hate crime" and the Dallas News' coverage even included a sidebar documenting historic lynchings in Paris and northeast Texas going back to the 19th Century.
But how does the "hate crime" label jibe with the fact that the victim and his alleged killers were actually friends and close associates? Reported the Dallas News:
I find it hard to imagine the assailants had some ulterior racist motive when the black victim in question actually committed perjury in a previous manslaughter case to protect one of his killers. Clearly these men were close associates if the victim had lied in court to protect one of them and they were still drinking buddies after he'd done prison time over it. There must be some other, more mundane motive that explains what happened.
Mr. McClelland [the victim] was last seen alive drinking with Mr. Finley and Mr. Crostley, both 27.
The men were thought to be friends. Mr. McClelland was convicted of perjury for lying on Mr. Finley's behalf in a manslaughter case. Mr. Finley went to prison from 2004 to 2007 for shooting a friend in a Paris park; Mr. McClelland was sentenced to a two-year term.
After midnight on Sept. 16, the suspects told police, the men ran out of beer and drove to Oklahoma for more. On the way back, they said, there was an argument over whether Mr. McClelland was too drunk to drive, and he got out of Mr. Finley's pickup, taking a couple of beers with him.
They said that was the last they saw of him.
But investigators found human blood on the undercarriage of Mr. Finley's truck, according to an affidavit filed Sept. 24, and witnesses quoted Mr. Finley and Mr. Crostley as saying that they ran over Mr. McClelland on purpose and dragged him "about 40 feet."
For Ms. Cherry and others in the community, that sounds like what happened a decade ago to Mr. Byrd.
There are differences, however: Mr. Byrd was tied to a pickup and dragged for three miles, while Mr. McClelland was struck and dragged underneath the truck for several feet. Also, two of the three men convicted of killing Mr. Byrd had ties to white supremacist groups and prison gangs. Prison officials say there are no such connections to the suspects in this case, despite rumors to the contrary.
I'm not defending McClelland's killers one bit; if the accused men did it, they deserve harsh punishment (the victim's mother told the News she opposes the death penalty and would like to see them get Life Without Parole). I just hate to see activists and the media ginning up racial animosities when the facts don't warrant it. Every murder is an unfathomable tragedy for those involved, but not every white on black murder is a "lynching."
There are plenty of real examples of racism in the world, and especially the justice system, without the media manufacturing alleged racial motives every time there's a mixed-race crime.
BLOGVERSATION: More from Dallas South Blog, which gives background from a Chicago Tribune story on the episode where the victim in this case provided a false alibi for one of his alleged killers. Alan Bean at the Friends of Justice blog agrees with the hate crime meme.