On Thought Crimes

John Holbo blurs the lines:

Practically all crime is ‘thought crime’ in the good ol’ common law sense of the Latin phrase actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea – ‘the act does not make guilt unless the mind be guilty.’ If we were to take a strict liability approach to all violent crime we would be obliged to place wrongful death on a par with premeditated murder. (After all, it’s not as though the lives of those killed accidentally are worth less.) This refutes the notion that there is something sinister and Orwellian about post-Drakonic/post-Hammurabian developments in criminal law. (Damn liberals and their newfangled political correctness!) It doesn’t follow that ‘hate crime’ legislation makes moral and practical sense, of course.