Two girls were arrested in McHenry County, Illinois last week for distributing flyers at their school that depicted a male classmate kissing another classmate and had the words "God Hates Fags" on the flyers. The two were charged with disorderly conduct and felony hate crimes. As can be expected, debate has been generated on the wisdom of hate crimes laws, debate that's not confined solely to the right. Even gay sites are not entirely behind the arrest and charging of these girls for a minor stunt.

The ACLU, predictably, said it indicates the struggle between protecting targeted groups and free speech, which apparently means hate speech directed at whites, Christians, or men is a-ok in the ACLU's book.

However, while the media focuses on the hate crime debate, an obvious injustice is missed that is far more concerning. One of the girls at her arraignment was denied bail for her actions, and the other was effectively placed on house arrest. It should be noted that they have not yet been tried, only charged. If the McHenry juvenile detention facility is anything like most county jails in the state, the girl will be allowed two 20 minute visits a week through a plexi-glass window with her friends and family.

In almost every single criminal case, bail is set to something. Most murders get bail. There are only two situations were bail is inappropriate: where the accused is a flight risk in a serious case and where the accused would pose eminent danger to society if released. As an illustration, in Champaign County a man was arrested for brutally raping his girlfriend with a weapon and threatening to kill her. His bail was set at $250,000.

In a Sangamon County case in Illinois, a murder suspect, Mark Winger, was given $1,000,000 bail, and, while he was out, he tried to have a key witness murdered. Muaz Haffar in Chicago was arrested for allegedly beating a victim to death with a bike lock and promptly fled to Syria while on bail.

The cases go on and on. However, in this case a 16-year old girl, who certainly is no innocent victim, has been denied bail because she's had run ins with the police before. Those include curfew violations, having cigarettes, having booze, and once for possession of marijuana. In short, she is a mischievous teenager no different than most other mischievous teenagers. If this girl brutally raped her neighbor and then killed him, she would have bail right now as long as she didn't say the word "fag" while doing it.

The judge, in commenting on denying bail, said that the girl's home situation was unacceptable. It's unclear how a judge can legally take a child out of their home simply because the child shows up in the courtroom for an obnoxious high school prank. We have the Department of Children and Family Services for that. In fact, the judge likely only spent a few moments looking at court documents (that had no home investigation) in making his sweeping judgment about the fitness of the parents. At least DCFS would conduct an investigation before taking custody of kids.

The situation of the other girl, getting house arrest, is also problematic because no adult criminal would be placed under house arrest simply by the virtue of being arrested… even in cases where such a sanction would be warranted. This is made laughable absurd by the fact that the maximum sentence the girls could get is 30 days in juvenile detention. The girl sitting in detention without bail will spend likely an order of magnitude more than that waiting for trial.

What these girls did was obnoxious, but it is certainly no catastrophic threat to society to have them out of jail. It is unclear whether the judge is using the hate crimes law or something else to enforce these ridiculous bail decisions. It is obvious to every child who is watching that society will treat them like thugs to be looked up than actual human beings. They are guilty until proven innocent. And we wonder why society is raising such dysfunctional adults.

John Bambenek is the Assistant Politics Editor for BC Magazine and is an academic professional for the University of Illinois. He is a syndicated columnist who blogs at Part-Time Pundit and the executive director of The Tumaini Foundation which helps AIDS orphans and other children in Tanzania to get an education. He is the current owner of BlogSoldiers, a blog-only traffic exchange.

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