Hate crimes

A 15-Year Sentence for Burning a Stolen Gay Pride Flag Is Not Justice

Hate crime enhancements meet three-strikes laws, and the consequences are terrible.

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An Iowa man was sentenced to 15 years in prison Wednesday for stealing and burning a church's rainbow LGBT pride flag.

No, Adolfo Martinez did not actually hurt or assault anybody in the process of stealing the flag off the front of the United Church of Christ in Ames and burning it in front of a bar he had been kicked out of last June. Though the 30-year-old did threaten to burn the bar down. And in an interview with Des Moines CBS affiliate KCCI he even confessed to the crime, making it clear (sort of; we'll get to that) that it was motivated by disapproval of LGBT people.

So Martinez faced not just arson and harassment charges but a hate crime enhancement, which pushes the potential sentence higher, putting him at a potential maximum sentence of five years for just the arson.

And Martinez also had two prior felonies, meaning he qualified as a "habitual offender" under Iowa's three-strikes law. Reports of Martinez's sentencing do not, unfortunately, explain what those convictions were for. A search through Iowa's court records shows that Martinez had previously been charged with driving without a license (which was dismissed), that he pleaded guilty to driving with a suspended license, and that in 2015 he pleaded guilty to dual charges of driving under the influence and possession of marijuana. No violent or serious felonies showed up in the state's records system.

Despite confessing to the crime on camera, Martinez pleaded not guilty and took the case to trial, where a jury convicted him. This pleased the church's pastor, Eileen Gibbie, who told the Des Moines Register, "I often experienced Ames as not being as progressive as many people believe it is, and there still is a very large closeted queer community here. But 12 people that I don't know, who have no investment in me or this congregation, said this man committed a crime and it was crime born of bigotry and hatred."

Under Iowa's "habitual offenders" guidelines, Martinez will not be eligible for parole for three years. The prosecutor recommended the maximum sentence of 15 years, and the judge agreed.

Let's circle back to Martinez's recorded confession to a KCCI reporter. You can view the entire interview here. It's striking for how casually he says things like "I have God on my side" and "It was an honor to do that. It was a blessing for the Lord, to stand for his words firmly against all odds, plain and simple." He also exhibits unusual body tics and gestures throughout the entire interview. After the interview is seemingly over, he gestures wildly while insisting that "even nonbelievers would agree with [me] on any given day" that he did the right thing by burning the flag. According to the Ames Tribune, on the night Martinez was arrested Ames Police Commander Jason Tuttle took note of the man's "bizarre behavior." It was not clear whether he was intoxicated at the time of his arrest, and he was not charged with public intoxication.

All this could indicate some mental health issues, and it should be a concern that not very much attention is being paid to that. People are clearly concerned that next time he might do something worse. Gibbie has told interviewers that she has been preparing for a possible attack on her church someday, invoking the deadly attack on the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., in which nine were killed by white supremacist Dylann Roof.

If this cruelly long prison sentence is because people fear what Martinez might do, that's bad news. Prisons are not the right place to put people with severe psychological problems, and the people who work there are not suited to deal with whatever psychological issues might be driving Martinez's behavior.

Just on the face of it, sentencing a man for 15 years in prison for burning any flag for any reason is an injustice. Looking deeper into the circumstances suggests that Martinez is being locked away in a place where he will probably come out even more troubled.

 

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  1. Shoulda claimed he was color-blind and thought it was an American flag and they would have given him a parade.

    1. And don’t forget that God hates flags.

      1. I mean, some Christian activists have seriously made the claim that pride flags are the kind of “idols” that the 10 Commandments warns against, so yes, some folk seriously believe that their god hates at least some flags.

        1. And yet those same folk worship the US flag.

          1. Oh fuck off.

          2. These outrageous insinuations about my community themselves should warrant arrest, prosecution and incarceration. Let us not forget that America is a religious nation, with a mighty arm; and in this regard, the statue of “liberty” was poorly designed–surely it would have looked better holding aloft a right steady sword rather than a kitschy lamp. Here at NYU, many of us feel that while fifteen years might be a bit much, six months in a county jail is a good, fitting punishment for anyone who violates the speech laws of our great country. Heck, what this man did to a flag displayed at a most sacred institution is almost as bad as the unlawful “parodies” that we had to call in the police deal with here on our quiet Washington Square campus. See the documentation of our nation’s leading criminal “satire” case at:

            https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

          3. I’d like to see some proof of that statement, please. Yes, the people most offended by antics like (American) Flag burning tend to be practicing Christians. OTOH, people given to hyper-strict interpretation of the Bible tend to be fairly consistent within their own symbol system. 1So they are unlikely to be American Flag worshipers if they consider the Rainbow Flag to be an ‘idol’.

            In short, you are making broad generalizations based on the Hollywood versions of devout Christians and American Patriots, most of which was made up by idiots who hate both and have never met either.

          4. Dont worship the flag (the way you use the rainbow flag like a pair of panties to rub one out on), we simply respect and honor what it stands for.

            This is in contrast to you and your ignorant brainwashed million dollar “victims of racism” who kneel in the NFL and disgrace the value and sacrifices of men in the armed forces and law enforcement who risk their lives to protect your right to express yourself as a buffoon.

            PS – Clinton called, said you looked great in that blue dress last weekend, when you come over next time, please dont spit it out.

            1. Aren’t your kids due at the dentist to have their two teeth cleaned, Justin von Cleetus?

      2. Religion has always been and will continue to be the demise of humanity! I always tell myself that every Sunday as I sit there listening quietly.

        1. Lol! Atheists have killed more people in history than religious fanatics.
          How fucking stupid are you???

          1. To be fair, he is awfully fucking stupid, and a bigot too.

          2. But those numbers don’t come from atheist ideologues killing in the name of atheism, do they? They come from people killing in the name of communism, fascism, or some other statist ideology. If anyone at all has ever been killed in the name of atheism, it was probably by some lone psycho. While on the other hand, the number of people killed in the name of various religions is significant, and they were killed in organized campaigns resembling those of the statists.

            1. Don’t even bother with the religio-contards around here. They’re so far up Jeebus’s ass when they’re not ball-slurping Trump they can’t hear you an yway.

      3. Any word (Word) on how God views car tires?

        Because this fuckup also torched a car tire along with the flag.

        Not really seeing this episode as one about free speech…

        1. If it is protected speech for somebody who hates what the American Flag stands for (at least in his mind) then it should be protected speech for this moron to burn the rainbow flag because he hates what IT stands for (in HIS mind).

          Hate-Crimes laws are fascist to their core. They need to be tossed in the ash heap of history, pronto.

          1. I don’t disagree with that. I disagree with everyone here who thinks he got fifteen years for burning a gay flag. He didn’t. He got fifteen years for being a serial criminal asshole.

            This whole incident started when he got tossed out of a strip club. Do you really think his motive was making as statement about homosexuality?

            Really?

        2. He burnt a tire and a flag, so fucking ThomasD here, thinks fifteen years is cool beans.

          Fucking incredible.

          1. So after all of his run-ins with law enforcement and the courts, this chap hasn’t learned to not take other people’s property?

            Fifteen years seems about right.

            1. Was it somebody else’s flag and tire?

            2. ”run ins with the law.,”

              Good to hear from another Contard authoritarian cunt-stain.

          2. Fancyclad here thinks he knows how to read..

            Not incredible.

  2. First off, it’s good to hear about the “three strikes” thing. The sentence sounded way too long when I heard it before, that explains that.

    Second off, yeah, it’s still too long.

    But thirdly…

    All this could indicate some mental health issues […]

    Without agreeing or disagreeing, I would like to point out that it’s basically impossible to make that case without it being summarized as “only an insane person would think God wants them to be anti-gay”.

    Now, some atheists sincerely argue that belief in god is insanity. You comfortable standing that close to that argument, Shackford? ’cause most of us are going to avoid calling belief in god an act of insanity like it’s a radioactive jockstrap.

    1. Claiming mental health issues is only a valid defense when claimed for yourself, and then a jury can review it like they review all other forms of defense. Allowing anybody to claim it for others is the Stalinesque road to ruin.

      1. Meh. Wasn’t commenting from a legal perspective. Just a rhetorical one.

    2. The guy should be charged with petty theft. Maybe assault if his arson threat was credible. I tend to think hate laws are bullshit, but I honestly haven’t given this much thought. Clearly intention matters. That is why we distinguish between murder and manslaughter. Is there a difference between someone getting beat up during a robbery, someone getting beat up for fucking someone’s wife, and someone getting beat up for being gay? My instinct is to say yes, there are huge differences, and the law should reflect that. But this many years for stealing a flag seems very excessive.

      1. Is there a difference between someone getting beat up during a robbery, someone getting beat up for fucking someone’s wife, and someone getting beat up for being gay?

        Empirically, no. Argumentatively, a robbery is circumstantial to one beating and not the other two. Potentially or presumably, you’re distinguishing someone beating up their wife for cheating once as opposed to someone going around beating up gay people for being gay with some repetition or frequency, but the law already has ways of dealing with such repetitive behavior without the need or ability to police thought.

        The problem with hate crimes and such law is the inherent double-jeopardy and intrinsic violation of due process woven into such issues; convicting the person both for the crime and their thoughts about the crime and refusing them the ability to face accusers/present witnesses. The simple dismissal of ‘There are huge differences in crimes based on intent, ergo hate crime law is OK.’, falsely assumes that an objective court/law *can’t* account for such things and, moreover, falsely assumes that a subjective court/law system *can* account for them in any manner that resembles justice or isn’t itself a crime. You assume that there some reasonable disparate punishment based on motivation that should be pretty universally applied.

        There may be differences in the crimes you hypothesized. Those differences, as they relate to sentencing/punishment, should be objective or at least strive to be.

      2. Clearly intention matters. That is why we distinguish between murder and manslaughter. Is there a difference between someone getting beat up during a robbery, someone getting beat up for fucking someone’s wife, and someone getting beat up for being gay? My instinct is to say yes, there are huge differences, and the law should reflect that.

        You could have just left it at this:

        I honestly haven’t given this much thought

        Without the lengthy demonstration of the fact.

        Good to see you literally come out and admit that you support thought crime though.

        1. Burning a flag is speech and it’s an action.
          Hate crime laws aren’t about thoughts but actions. Regardless of where I stand on them (not a big fan), the laws aren’t criminalizing “thought crimes.”

          Burning a gay flag in these circumstances with his prior threats and issues is a threat. (Not a 16 years in prison threat… that’s ridiculous.)

          1. Change “gay flag” to “U.S. flag” and see how far that goes. We’ve been down this road before: the act of burning a flag is an expression of free speech.

            1. Not if it someone else’s flag, and not if it done with intent to intimidate. We have been down that road, too. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_v._Black#Majority

              1. So, if someone steals a MAGA flag from someone else’s front yard and burns it and later admits they did it because they both hate Trump and want to intimidate Trump voters, we would, similarly, have both theft and hate/intimidation involved. So, you believe that a 15-year sentence would be appropriate.?

          2. Except they’re predicated on how you think/feel about a certain group of protected people. Hence “thought crime”.

            Plus, they’re a savage hypocrisy.

      3. Hate laws are bullshit. They are there to tailor special punishment for those who do anything to a progtard’s darling class du jour.

        1. That’s about the only smart thing you’ve posted out of your last 3000 comments, Last of the Shitferbrains.
          Blind squirrel, n all that.

      4. Yes. Petty theft for stealing the flag. Protected speech for burning it. He should have bought his own flag to burn.

  3. “This pleased the church’s pastor, Eileen Gibbie, who told the Des Moines Register, ‘I often experienced Ames as not being as progressive as many people believe it is, and there still is a very large closeted queer community here. But 12 people that I don’t know, who have no investment in me or this congregation, said this man committed a crime and it was crime born of bigotry and hatred.”

    Christian charity, forgiveness, understanding, and acceptance [according to both Christian ethics and as a means to change hearts and minds] or progressive mantra. Well, looks like the pastor knows where she stands….

    1. Christian charity, forgiveness, understanding, and acceptance […]

      Might call for leniency in sentencing, but generally doesn’t impact the conviction itself.

      That quote is from after the conviction, which was over a month ago. The sentencing was this week.

      1. Might call for leniency in sentencing, but generally doesn’t impact the conviction itself.

        Like when Jesus convicted the whores and tax collectors and then petitioned the Romans to reduce their sentences from 15 years to 10?

        1. Throw the first stone, I dare you.

          1. You all know that UCC is a bunch of lefty atheists/Unitarians who say “Jesus”, and not evangelical righties, don’t you?

            1. Sure, but all that means is that they like to talk a lot about how merciful and non-condemning Jesus was, and ignore those bits about wailing and gnashing of teeth. They’re also very quick to lament the disproportionate burden of the criminal justice system on minorities in this country. You’d think that would make them sympathetic with a defendant named Adolfo Martinez, but you’d be wrong. I guess they figured he was a Nazi who had changed his name from Adolf Martin.

      2. Two phrases:
        “I often experienced Ames as not being as progressive as many people believe it is,”
        and
        “this man committed a crime and it was crime born of bigotry and hatred.”

        I read that as “we win, lock the bastard up, never mind his problems the issue is what matters.”

    2. Acts of penance are a big part too for seeking forgiveness (at least for Catholics). But also EE’s comment above.

    3. UCC, the very definition of Mainline Christian wankery.

    4. Progressive Christians are apparently the only ones we expect to emulate Christ…

      1. Progressive Christians may emulate Christ, but they sure don’t worship him.

  4. Dude. The sentence is not outrageous because he may have mental problems (who doesn’t). It is outrageous because the sentence is clearly based on the content of his speech (symbolic gesture of flag burning). He is only guilty of petty larceny for stealing the flag. Like it or not this case is precisely the same as war protestor flag burning. Not a criminal justice system issue, it’s a first amendment issue.

    1. Theft plus destruction of property.

      1. What became of the terroristic threat?

        1. It vanished in a puff of your imagination.

          The way you define “terroristic threat” includes half your postings.

            1. Very true

              1. Extremely true

          1. Many states define a “terroristic threat” as basically any true threat to commit an act of illegal violence. These laws predate current concerns about “terrorism”, and so the threats in question need not have any connection to what is thought of today as terrorism in order to constitute “terroristic threats” under the law. If his threat to burn the place down was judged to have been a “true threat”, he would be guilty of that, in addition to petty theft and destruction of property. Not of arson, unless Iowa defines that very oddly. But certainly, 15 years still seems much too long.

            1. Arson is defined as causing a fire or explosion, placing any burning or combustible material, or any incendiary or explosive device or material in or near any property with the intent to destroy or damage property or with knowledge that the property will probably be destroyed or damaged, whether the property is actually destroyed or damaged. It is not arson when the property owner consents to the defendant’s acts, when the insurer has not been fraudulently exposed to any risk, and when the act is not done in such a manner as to unreasonably endanger the life or property of any other person.

              Arson which is not arson in the first degree is arson in the second degree when the property which is the subject of the arson is a building or a structure, or real property of any kind, or standing crops, or is personal property the value of which exceeds seven hundred fifty dollars. Arson in the second degree is a class “C” felony.

              https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/code/712.pdf

              I’m guessing they got to second degree because the damage to the parking lot (which, unlike the tire, is real property) totaled more than $750.

    2. Malicious destruction of property is also a crime. Also arson if you really wanted to run with it. Your first amendment rights do not extend to others property. No 1st amendment issue involved in the act of destruction of property. The only 1st A issue is the hate crime laws. The motive shouldn’t matter.

      But yeah sentence is too long.

      1. Various localities have tried the arson gambit with us flag burning too. This is the first time I’ve seen it stick. What’s different….

        1. What’s different?

          If I threaten to “burn down America” and then burn an American flag, does that make my threat more likely? Who have I threatened specifically?

          If I threaten to “burn down that gay church over there” and then steal their rainbow flag and burn it right outside, does that make my threat more likely? We know exactly who was threatened here.

          Burning an American flag is political protest–something that is specifically protected by the First Amendment. Burning a gay flag outside of a gay church having threatened to burn down that church is not an act of protest but a threat.

          1. A distinction without a difference. If you threaten to burn down America and then burn it’s flag you are threatening Americans. The reason we don’t care about your threat is because all you’re doing is setting fabric on fire. Ditto with a gay flag. Now, if your threat takes the form of killing people, we care. Ditto for killing gay people. People are people, and flags are just flags. “Thought crime” as a category is stupid and unjust. We should only care about actual acts of evil.

      2. Motive is a factor in many criminal laws; as was pointed out up-thread, first degree murder versus manslaughter is a good example.

        I understand why there’s a desire for hate crime laws and how without them the existing laws wouldn’t be adequate. I’m uncomfortable with something like a 16 year sentence for something that could be interpreted, at worst, as doubling down on the promise to burn down the church. I’d say the maximum he should get for this is whatever he would have gotten for making a credible threat to burn down the church.

    3. Depending on the content of that flag-burning speech, it could also be a threat.

      Cross burning is definitely a threat.

      He took the flag to a place of business and burned it in front of them, telling them he intended to burn the business down too. That sounds exactly like a threat.

      1. How is cross burning definitely a threat?

        If someone burns a cross on their own remote rural property with a group of friends, the act is not particularized to particular individuals nor would it indicate imminent danger to anyone (except, perhaps, those burning it — but that’s their choice). This is not a “threat” in the legal sense.

        And it certainly isn’t a threat if someone burns a cross in front of a christian church while displaying a sign saying something like “Christians have killed more people throughout history than terrorists have. Christians are terrorists.”.

        However, it could well be threat to burn a cross on the front lawn of the home of a black family.

        In short, cross burning is not necessarily a threat in a legal sense — context matters.

    4. This guy gets fifteen years, yet in a case where a friend of mine was a juror, a man who assfucked a six year old boy got four years. And that wasn’t a plea deal. That was his sentence after the jury convicted him.

      Progtards love gays, but don’t give a shit when one of them rapes a little kid.

  5. “it was crime born of bigotry and hatred”

    “as opposed to crime born of other poor choices. So, off with his head!”

    1. A hate crime like flying a Nazi flag or a hate crime like stealing and burning a Nazi flag?

      (By “Nazi flag” I of course mean a “Trump 2020” yard sign.)

      1. I saw a bumper sticker in NYC that said “Voting for Trump is a hate crime.”

        1. Why?

          1. You’ve literally said the exact same thing here dozens of times and also just got done defending thoughtcrimes, so maybe you can tell us?

  6. >> it was motivated by disapproval of LGBT people.

    so? also, habitual offender enhancements are bullshit. the dude drove drunk once and lit a flag on fire and you called him Dylan Roof.

    1. I wonder if “Reason” and the left realize that once you strip away all the tools that people use to rationalize why they don’t abjectly destroy society and the people around them on a daily basis, all you’re left with is someone who’s unable to rationalize why they shouldn’t destroy society and fuck shit up on a daily basis.

      1. >>realize

        unlikely. lol.

    2. You are ridiculously bad at reading. Have you given any thought to going back to kindergarten?

      1. you want me to complain about Shackford’s ham-psychiatry instead?

        1. At least then you’d be complaining about something that he actually said.

          1. me hardest hit! it’s okay i’m not your cup of tea

    3. “the dude drove drunk once and lit a flag on fire and you called him Dylan Roof.”

      Because intersectionality!

      1. brevity soul wit.

  7. “this man committed a crime and it was crime born of bigotry and hatred.”

    Progressive taxation is a crime born of bigotry and hatred of those who make more than I do. Had to be said.

    1. As Quo Usque Tandem alludes to above. Enhancing the charges from petty theft and/or destruction of property is both counter to Christian teaching and itself a crime more directly born of bigotry, hatred, and a couple of other traditionally sinful acts/thought patterns.

      1. I believe the pastor’s point is that there is a bigger fish to fry, being alphabet people stuff, than this individual’s rights as a person; if anyone thinks a progressive and “well intentioned” society would not throw us into a hole for perpetuity for doing this and less, well I’ll just have to call them a fool.

    2. “You’re ‘fair share’ is waaaaaayyyy more than my ‘fair share’, and I’m STILL pissed off that they’re not taking even more from you!”

      Haha. Yup.

  8. Burn an American Flag: “Free Speech! Free Speech!”

    Burn a Gay Pride Flag: “Let the blasphemer rot in prison!”

    1. One you’ve stripped out all of the important facts, you can make silly statements like this one!

      (Burned the gay flag in front of the gay-welcoming church he threatened to burn down.)

      1. So what? He only burnt a fucking flag.
        He didn’t torch the Our Lady of Babylon building itself.

  9. Where is the ACLU on this one?

    1. They’re busy talking about how tampons should be available in men’s rooms.

      1. Well, they are really good at stopping bleeding.

        1. Ever use one for a nose bleed? The string is distracting.

    2. Celebrating Impeachmas – they will review the case next year sometime and decide this is MUCH WORSE than burning an American flag. They will probably appeal to increase the sentence.

  10. So how else are you supposed to dispose of a gay pride flag?

    1. There might be some sort of general flag etiquette but in the past I’ve simply tossed worn out flags in the trash*. Not as any sort of political statement, mind you, just general housecleaning.

      *Not the US flag, naturally, for which there is a very specific set of rules for how one should respectfully dispose of one, which can include burning but reverently rather than as a political protest.

  11. I didn’t know flags had a racial status that can claim hate crimes against itself.

    1. Scientifically, sticking your dick in another man’s ass is the exact same thing as having XX sex chromosomes or MFSD12 gene expression facilitating more pigmented skin.

      Since 2013, behavior is to be regarded as the same thing as physiology.

      1. Religion isn’t like having two X chromosomes either, is it? Drinking the transsubstantiated blood of a corpse isn’t like having two X chromosomes, is it? Yet religion remains a protected class. Being a nutty religious bigot is a choice after all.

        Now, I don’t want anti discrimination laws for homosexuality because I consider them harmful. But for religious nuts to complain about them because they are based on behavior is absurd and hypocritical.

  12. In other news…

    A former American Airlines mechanic accused of trying to sabotage a commercial airliner pleaded guilty to attempted destruction of an aircraft in federal court.

    Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani, 60, admitted that he intentionally tried to damage or disable an aircraft’s air data module (ADM) system, which reports aircraft speed, pitch and other critical data, on July 17.

    Meltz said his client could be sentenced to about three years in prison. His sentencing is set for March 4.

    https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/18/us/former-american-airlines-mechanic-plea/index.html

    1. Too local. If he murdered 3 people and shot 20 others at a Navy facility…. oh wait…. also too local.

    2. My understanding was that his story was more union related.

      In fact, from your link:

      “According to court documents, Alani told investigators that he was upset over a contract dispute between union workers and the airlines, and the dispute had cost him money. He allegedly explained that he tampered with the aircraft so he could get overtime pay for working on the plane.”

      —-CNN

      It wasn’t about terrorism.

      1. I didn’t say it was about terrorism. I was attempting to contrast the penalties for burning a flag with potentially causing a plane crash.

        1. “I was attempting to contrast the penalties for [threatening arson on an LGBT-friendly church] with potentially causing a plane crash.”

          FTFY

          1. Thanks for the clarification. So, to be clear…

            Threatening to burn down a church = 15 years in prison
            Attempting to damage a commercial airliner = 3 years in prison

            1. Maybe y’all should read more carefully. The target was a bar not the church he stole the flag from.

  13. I as much against hate speech laws that violate the First Amendment as the next libertarian, but I want to make sure the description of the rationale for the sentence matches the story–as it’s linked above.

    “Adolfo Martinez, 30, of Ames, was found guilty last month of third-degree arson in violation of individual rights — hate crime, third-degree harassment, and reckless use of fire as a habitual offender.”

    https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/crime-and-courts/2019/12/19/lgbtq-flag-burning-iowa-man-sentenced-church-banner-fire/2697139001/

    I’ve read it elsewhere that the perpetrator made terroristic threats to burn down the building in the past–and has been convicted before for arson related threats. If that’s the case, the reason for the sentence may not have had anything to do with the hate crime charge. If he’s been convicted of threatening to burn down the building before, which is a use of speech that violates other people’s rights, just as surely as an armed robber who says, “Empty the register or I’ll blow your head off”, then the sentence may have been perfectly appropriate regardless of whether he was also charged with a hate crime.

    When is he eligible for parole–after seven and a half years?

    One of the things that sets honest libertarians apart from the rest of the world is our willingness to call things out as they are–regardless of whether the implications play into our favorite narrative at the moment. Some people need an innocent victim in order to stand up against hate crime laws that violate the First Amendment. I’m willing to stand up for the First Amendment even if it’s to stand up for some despicable person, but I’m not about to stand up for a legitimately sentenced arsonist–just because he was also charged with a hate crime.

    1. Where did you see that he’d made threats about burning down the building? I’ve gone through this story quite a bit, and haven’t seen anything where he made that threat. But I also got the impression this was the second time he’d taken down a gay pride flag and burned it, though I might be really confused because the reporting of this story is confusing as hell.

      Regardless, there’s something fucked up with the sentencing. I’ve never heard of “arson” as a charge for anything smaller than like a motor vehicle or a boat. Usually we’re talking about buildings. This guy, however, burned a flag. He’s not an arsonist, but he was found guilty of “arson as a hate crime” and got 15 years for that. That sounds like a big load of bullshit to me. It’s excessive.

      This guy is a whacko and a criminal, but there’s no evidence he’s actually committed violence toward any individual. Six months, tops.

      1. Correction – he got five years for arson (of which two years was the hate crime). Arson in this jurisdiction isn’t limited to just burning buildings or vehicles but includes “property” such as stealing someone’s flag/banner and then burning it. As far as the threat to burn the building down, per the article:

        “Police said Adolfo Martinez, 30, got into a dispute at the Dangerous Curves Gentlemen’s Club at 111 Fifth Street, was kicked out of the bar, and then came back early Tuesday morning.

        “He told the people in the bar that he was going to burn the place to the ground and at that point he made reference to burning ‘their flag,'” Ames police Cmdr. Jason Tuttle said.”

        1. Arson in this jurisdiction isn’t limited to just burning buildings or vehicles but includes “property” such as stealing someone’s flag/banner and then burning it.

          Well that’s a load of bullshit. Hopefully there’s some half-decent lawyer who will appeal this because that law needs to be reconsidered.

          1. Appeal on what grounds? People elect legislatures who determine the criminal code for their states and most states actually do define arson to include personal property not just property attached to a dwelling.

          2. If he had lit a box of flags in the store room on fire, isn’t that arson? If he’d drug that box out into the parking lot and lit it on fire, isn’t that still arson? Why is burning one item belonging to the church not arson or, as you say, ” a load of bullshit” but burning anything else belonging to them would be?

            1. Because he didn’t do any of those things. And everyone is sick about shrill whining from prpgtards anything gay related. Besides, where’s the harm? A lot of gays are flaming anyway. And we don’t charge them with arson.

            2. “Here’s a load of red herrings, enjoy”

              Fuck off, Shawn.

          3. Threatening to shoot up a bar and then brandishing a gun outside the bar is a legitimate cause for prosecution, and if you don’t want a jury to convict you for arson unanimously, you can avoid that by not threatening to burn a bar down and not starting a fire outside.

            . . . regardless of whether hate speech laws are bullshit, laws against making violent threats and then doing something a lot like what you threatened to do are perfectly legitimate.

            I might object to Osama bin Laden being charged with a hate crime for 9/11, but if he were hauled into court and convicted for conspiracy in regards to 9/11, I wouldn’t pretend that his sentence was inappropriate–because he was also charged with a hate crime.

            We seem to be making this much more about hate speech than it really is, and I think that has a lot to do with the way this headline was written.

            “A 15-Year Sentence for Burning a Stolen Gay Pride Flag Is Not Justice”

            He was not sentenced to 15 years for burning a stolen gay pride flag.

            “Adolfo Martinez, 30, of Ames, was found guilty last month of third-degree arson in violation of individual rights — hate crime, third-degree harassment, and reckless use of fire as a habitual offender.”

            He was sentenced to 15 years for third degree arson, third degree harassment, reckless use of fire–as a habitual offender–and also a hate crime.

            Because I oppose hate speech laws because the violate the First Amendment doesn’t mean I’m obligated to pretend something is true when it isn’t. That’s what separates honest libertarians from people like Jane Fonda, who believed that her good intentions made it acceptable to pretend that tortured Americans POWs were lying about being mistreated. Things are as they are–regardless of the implications, and I don’t need to be dishonest about this guy to oppose hate speech laws that violated the First Amendment.

            I’m certainly not about to be tricked into compromising my integrity by defending a third degree arsonist against being sentenced for third degree arson–not just because I oppose hate speech laws. Opposing hate speech laws makes me smart–not dishonest.

            1. I’m normally with you Ken, but you’re really reaching here.

              Look at what he actually did, not the implied motives given by a hostile prosecution.
              One day is too much for burning a flag. Fifteen years is insane.

              1. It appears that what he actually did was threaten to burn the place down and then show up and start a fire.

                And being accused of a bogus crime like “hate speech” doesn’t exonerate him of anything he actually did.

            2. Ken,
              You’re usually the most reliable commenter on Reason threads.
              But you’re just shitting your pants on this.
              Sorry.

    2. I’m not about to stand up for a legitimately sentenced arsonist–just because he was also charged with a hate crime.

      Because taking a flag down from a building and burning the flag but not the building is somehow arson if you squint just right and love homos enough?

      1. If you don’t want a jury to accidentally mistake you for an arsonist because you threatened to burn a building down and then started a fire in front of it, there’s an easy way to avoid that–and it doesn’t have anything to do with hate speech.

        Can you guess what it is?

    3. His first crime: being name Adolf.

    4. >>>legitimately sentenced arsonist

      you cede to the hate-crime crowd

      1. When you have to pretend an arsonist isn’t an arsonist in order to make a political point, you’ve ceded a lot more than that…

        1. When you turn a minor flag burning into arson because of political correctness you’ve ceded even more.

          1. Let’s be clear: he could have burned his own flag on his own property legally. Stealing a flag and burning it on someone else’s property Or on public property is different.

        2. “When you have to pretend an arsonist isn’t an arsonist”

          It’s a fucking flag you dishonest shit. I’ve burned old files before, does that make me an arsonist too?

          1. If it concerned homos it does. According to Shawn.

  14. “Though the 30-year-old did threaten to burn the bar down.”

    And he’s already a two time loser.

    Yeah 15 years, as a first offense, would be wholly inappropriate. But I’m thinking this sentence was more of a totality issue. Feel sorry for anyone who ever has to deal with this asshole.

    1. What were his two priors, though? Possession of marijuana? Driving with a suspended license? These are the most minor of offenses, and his third offense still doesn’t rise to the level of creating actual harm to people.

      This is inappropriate regardless.

      1. While those were priors, I doubt they were the felony priors.

        A threat to burn down a building is not actual harm?

        1. I cannot help but suspect that, had this guy burned their garbage can instead, he’d be looking at slightly different charges but a quite similar sentence.

      2. We don’t know *what* his previous offenses were only that they would have to be either Class-D or Class-C felonies (up to five or ten years respectively). The fact that Scott Shackleford tried to find his previous criminal history and only found a couple of things on a website doesn’t mean that he saw everything there is (online trial court records are notoriously spotty at best).

      3. Yes, but it happens to zillions of people every day.

        1. Thanks to you and your friends. There shouldn’t even be hate crimes on the books.

  15. I sincerely hope someday SCOTUS takes up the issue of hate crime laws and rules them unconstitutional.
    People are being punished for their opinions.

  16. From what I’ve read in other sources, the breakdown of his sentence was:

    Arson (with the hate crime enhancement) – five years (including two years for the hate crime)

    Reckless use of fire or explosives – one year

    Harassment – 30 days

    Being a habitual offender – up to ten years (of which he’d have to serve a minimum of three before being eligible for parole)

    I don’t know what his previous crimes were that lead to the “habitual offender” status (and I wouldn’t rely just on what trial court records are available online) but my guess is that it wasn’t just for moving violations and possession. Other articles have said the he had a long history of harassment and if you’re openly proud of your crimes, I can see putting the guy away for a longer time period.

  17. Hate crime laws are unconstitutional in a land with a real supreme court. Which isn’t America.

  18. “This pleased the church’s pastor, Eileen Gibbie, who told the Des Moines Register, ‘I often experienced Ames as not being as progressive as many people believe it is, and there still is a very large closeted queer community here. But 12 people that I don’t know, who have no investment in me or this congregation, said this man committed a crime and it was crime born of bigotry and hatred.”

    Come on Eileen!

    Protestants have watered down their values. They’re trying to hard to be woke and cool.

    1. too

    2. “Come on Eileen!”

      You owe me a keyboard.

      1. You smashed it?!?!

          1. Heh.

  19. Well, the Chicano community isn’t really known for it’s homophilia.

    1. Well, without sarcasm, a decade in an all male institution will change his perspective on same sex relations one way or another.

      My guess is that he is a closet homosexual who is desperate trying to prove something. Straight men secure in their sexuality have no reason to obsess about what others do in bed.

  20. Is there a way we can help Mr. Martinez? I am at erasmuse@indiana.edu. Does he need money?

    1. Can you pay in bitcoin?

      1. That commenter is impersonating a prominent clinger and bigot.

        1. Oh, come on, the only clinger here is you and he isn’t impersonating you

  21. Petty theft, destruction of property. Misdemeanor, 90 days.

    1. Did you miss the part about threatening to burn the bar down and then lighting a car tire on fire in front of that bar?

      1. Seems the prosecutor is the witnesses to that “crime”.

        1. I suspect the responding cops, and the firemen who were no doubt summoned, are also witnesses to the burning car tire he lit on someone else’s property.

          1. Take the salty chocolate cop balls out of your mouth, Tommy D.

            1. You’r a bright one, aren’t you?

  22. Can we agree, now that we’ve read some of the links that the headline “A 15-Year Sentence for Burning a Stolen Gay Pride Flag…” is:

    A. Not remotely accurate.

    B. Shameless clickbait.

    This place sucks more by the day.

    1. We can agree you’re a pants-shitting authoritarian cuntwad.

  23. Just on the face of it, sentencing a man for 15 years in prison for burning any flag for any reason is an injustice.

    It would be. But I’m glad that that’s not what actually happened.

    Looking deeper into the circumstances suggests that Martinez is being locked away in a place where he will probably come out even more troubled.

    That’s the kind of utilitarian argument that I think has little place when it comes to justice. But let’s run with the utilitarian argument: what is locking him away for 15 years going to accomplish? The propensity of males to engage in violent behavior declines strongly with age, so from a purely utilitarian point of view, locking criminals up until they are in their mid-40’s is likely an effect means of protecting society. Let’s be clear: I didn’t make a utilitarian argument, you did, but even as far as utilitarian arguments go, you got it wrong.

  24. Remember when George Holy War Bush salted every speech with pleas for a girl-bullying Amendment, the death penalty for plant leaves and felony sentencing for burning some flags? This queer-baiting idjit is no poster child, but anything that helps God’s Own Prohibitionists get some cruel, moronic and force-initiating law passed they greet with whoops of joy–even if it means feeding a fellow bigot to the Utilitarian Monster.

    1. Fuck off loser.

    2. You’re babbling incoherently.

  25. 15 years is way out of proportion. He’s a thief, a vandal, and an asshole, but a mild flogging would probably suffice to prevent him from doing it again.

    -jcr

    1. His felony record seems to establish the sentence as within the prescribed range, and readily justifiable. His lack of remorse and general ugliness bolster that point.

      1. By that reasoning, we should lock you away for life.

  26. That pastor sounds awfully vindictive. I am reminded of the recent case where that brother of the guy the cop shot in his own apartment forgave and hugged the cop who did it.

    That guy is more Christian than this lady.

    1. The brother was an idiot. Forgiveness is highly overrated. A long memory and consistency are far more valuable.

      1. Society needs consistent laws. Pastors need to practice forgiveness and mercy. Both seem to have failed to some degree in this case.

    2. The church tried to help this loser, who didn’t deserve it.

      Your comment is silly.

  27. From the beginning of time women have just been sex slaves to evil men. It got better and now it’s all about men having power over women, again. When a woman walks into the bathroom and finds more men than women, that’s exactly what men want. Laws are passed by evil sex starve men, so what do you expect???

    1. …er, what?!?

    2. Hank’s sock?

      1. The verbiage wasn’t arcane or obscure enough for him.

  28. This could all have been prevented if the Christians hadn’t hooked themselves into yet another fragile brain.

    1. Even homophobic Christians are less violent, less deluded, and more kind than the average leftist.

      1. So let’s average how many Christians have shot up public spaces vs. leftists in recent years.

        1. I suggest you do that. Specifically, in column 1, count all the crimes that were motivated by grievances based on Christian ideology. In column 2, count all the crimes that were motivated by grievances based on social justice ideology.

          (Studies have also shown generally that religiosity and church attendance are associated with less crime even when controlling for other factors.)

  29. There’s a sure-fire way Martinez could have avoided all of this. Don’t keep committing crimes.

    If you want to have an argument about the merits of hate crime laws, fine. But, this was not Martinez’s debut as a criminal. And there’s no shred of evidence he has been diagnosed with any sort of mental illness.

  30. Hate crime?

    As opposed to all other love crime?

    1. Hey Rob! Vandalism any synagogues lately?

      1. I find that simply sharing the truth is far more effective at enabling justice.

        1. Effective at what? Having people despise you?

    2. Like Adolfo, you are likely obsessed with homosexuality because you repress it. The other possibility is that you are just a loser.

  31. It appears this clinger <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/12/20/he-burned-churchs-lgbtq-flag-got-years-they-responded-by-advocating-him/&quot; got roughly what he deserved.

    The church and pastor, if anything, were too kind to this loser. Getting him off the streets was an act of civic virtue. Plus, perhaps he will not reproduce again.

  32. Shoulda got his money’s worth and buried a couple of homos. Two less whiners to worry about.

  33. Yea this is not justice..he burned a FLAG not a person..and meanwhile in Iowa a 42 yr old white woman runs over a 14 year old with her car because she said , quote, she looked Mexican..and authorities are still not sure it is a hate crime..the fuk is wrong with this picture?!

  34. I can see why the pastor of the church thinks this is a good idea. She’s clearly a nutjob.

    The fact that the prosecutor and the judge believed sending a man to jail for 15 years for the crime of burning a flag is what’s disturbing.

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