Seeing is Believing?

Been a while since I spent my weekend answering reader nastygrams, but that's what I get for wading into the racial muck underneath the Philadelphia flash mobs.

Sunday's column explored the uncomfortable truth that the crimes have been committed entirely by blacks against (mostly) whites. (To date, we know of one black victim, a homeless man, and one mob that targeted a Cambodian shopkeeper.)

Thus, I asked the question: If a crime certainly appears to be racially motivated, is it automatically a hate crime? Can a random assault be the former without being the latter? Can predators chose their prey based on perceived weakness and not be guilty of ethnic intimidation if every person they wallop is white?

Pennsylvania law says "Yes" to the above. But most readers said "No" and accused me, lawmakers and police of hiding from the obvious: If it looks, waddles and quacks like a duck, it's fowl.

But, to be fair, many folks in that camp seem to be harboring their own share of race-based hate.

Most intriguing are the respondents proud to have carry permits. These citizens are practically giddy at the prospect of a showdown on a city street where, in an act of justifiable self-defense, they blow one of these young guns away.

-- Monica Yant Kinney