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We do not have to adopt narrow legal definitions of hate or discrimination


Irin Carmon offers both useful historical context and a very good point here:

On August 24, 1874, 22 Chinese women were held on a ship in San Francisco’s harbor. They had papers, but when inspected by California’s immigration commissioner and found to be traveling without male companions, they were declared “lewd” and barred from entry unless the ship’s master paid an extortionate sum, which he refused. This was legal, said the Supreme Court of California, because the state had a right to block “a lewd and debauched woman,” though no evidence was presented that they were sex workers. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the state had gone too far, but victory was short-lived. President Ulysses S. Grant told Congress of an “evil — the importation of Chinese women, but few of whom are brought to our shores to pursue honorable or useful occupations.” The Page Act, passed in 1875, barred such “importation” of women from “China, Japan, or any Oriental country” for “lewd and immoral purposes.”


The criminal-justice system may, in the end, interpret Long’s actions narrowly, either because of its own biases or because there isn’t enough evidence to convince a jury. In other realms of the law — discrimination in housing, voting, or employment — actions that disproportionately affect one group are understood as discriminatory, although violating these rules won’t put someone in prison or on death row. But the choices and methods of prosecutors need not be our own. “That the Asian women murdered yesterday were working highly vulnerable and low-wage jobs during an ongoing pandemic speaks directly to the compounding impacts of misogyny, structural violence, and white supremacy,” said Phi Nguyen, the litigation director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice in Atlanta. Just because a lawyer or a jury may not make a full accounting of these forces doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t do so ourselves.

In the context of criminal law, discriminatory intent is sometimes difficult to prove, but people don’t have the coercive power of the state at their disposal are not bound to use the same standards of evidence.

In addition, it’s also silly to try to determine whether this killing was motivated by racism or misogyny when not only could it be both but the two categories are related rather than independent. And needless to say give no credit to self-serving statements made by people trying to exonerate themselves:

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