Thursday, October 4, 2007

Silly little hate crime

I would like to start a discussion regarding hate crimes. I think that my position on this might be a little bit of a shock to some people but it is not a topic that I have researched thoroughly. I definitely would value any intelligent discourse that could be offered on this topic.

I realize that the reason people are trying to push hate crime legislation is so that particular groups will not be targeted for violence. For example, If someone knew that they would get a more severe sentence for beating someone up because they were gay rather than beating someone up just because they don’t like them, then maybe this will result in less beatings of gay people.

Maybe this type of thought process works. It is definitely a good thing to discourage acts of violence against someone based on a genetic orientation, life choice or really for any reason at all. My initial reaction to this is that it offers protection to one class of people while denying it to all others. As an Atheist/Agnostic/Freethinker, this is exactly the type of mindset that we are trying to avoid. We do not want groups to have special consideration one way or another. We should all be equal, right?

So let’s say that I see a man walking down the street and I have a problem with him because he is gay, or black, or Christian. So I get in my car and drive by him clocking him in the neck with a baseball bat. The man falls to the ground and dies. Now I am looking at a life sentence or the death penalty because my crime was motivated by this man’s lifestyle.

Now let’s say that I committed the same crime but I simply did it because I am a mean person. Well since it is not a hate crime now I am only looking at 25 years. Maybe less if I can plead down to a manslaughter charge. This is the same crime but the motivation is different. The victim is still dead and his family and friends are destitute. I have changed a group of people’s life and altered the course of one man’s life forever. Why should the punishment change based upon my motivation.

I believe that there should be one punishment to fit one crime and motivation should be a non issue. If you kill someone on purpose then it makes no difference if you are mean, a bigot or a psychopathic killer. Once you have shown that you are capable of taking a life with forethought, you should be locked away like the animal you are. The race, lifestyle, or religion of the person that you harmed should have nothing to do with it.

I believe hate crime legislation is just another step in the progression of a police state, to justify giving more time to those who the government picks and chooses, should have more time. What do you think?

10 comments:

Shawn Wilkinson said...

The burden is still on the state to show that the crime was committed out of mere prejudice toward the individual as opposed to other criminal intent. that isn't an easy task to do and is only done when its fairly obvious. It's much like the difference between first degree murder, which requires the state to show the accused had premeditation, and second (and third, depending on jurisdiction), which doesn't.

Under an ideal, non-vague wording of hate crime legislation, all classes would be protected, not just minority classes.

just my thoughts.

The Exterminator said...

Angels, I couldn't agree with you more. What violent crime isn't a hate crime?

Shawn Wilkinson said...

A common misunderstanding of hate crime is that its legislation against the simple malice when the legalese of such legislation makes the laws applicable to only cases of prejudices based on a certain descriptor of the victim, whether it religion, race, or gender.

Just building off of exterminator's comment.

tina said...

We have a lot of that in my town. You do make a good point angelsdepart. I don't think I ever looked at hate crimes that way. A crime is a crime.

angelsdepart said...

Shawn

I guess my point was, that when the government has someone that they really want to take down, they always seem to come up with the burden of proof anyways. So even though that protection is supposed to be in place, I am saying that it might end up just being another tool that the government has to suppress the people. Instead of a normal sentence, if you were viewed as a real trouble maker, then they just make it a hate crime and lock you away for life. Proving what someone was thinking while committing a crime not only seems impossible, but irrelevant too.

Steven said...

I passionately support freedom of speech. Most people say they support freedom of speech until someone says something they don't like. When I say I support freedom of speech I mean the freedom is for everyone. Including fundamentalist muslims, neonazis, holocaust deniers, and even creationists. I would likely find all their views horrid but freedom of speech should be for all.

"I disagree with what you have to say but I will defend "almost" to the death, for your right to say it"
-Adapted from Voltaire.

Steven said...

One more step towards thought crime.

angelsdepart said...

Steven

While I agree with you, for the most part, my article was more geared towards people who act on their beliefs and actually end up hurting someone. I think that we can agree that that is pretty much always wrong.

Nicest Girl said...

I think the thought behind a hate crime is this (to use your example):

You see a guy that you hate because he slept with your s.o. (or something like that). You drive by in your car and hit him in the head with a bat and he dies (let's say it's an accident that he dies). You are arrested and charged. If you are released, the court thinks, what are the chances of you doing this again? Most likely small because it was an isolated incident, you knew the guy, there was history, and it was for a specific (although not justified) reason that you attacked him. You are given 25 years (maybe) due to those reasons.

Now...

You see a guy that you hate because he is black (or gay, or a transvestite, or whatever). You drive by in your car and hit him in the head with a bat and he dies (let's say it's an accident that he dies). You are arrested and charged. If you are released, the court thinks, what are the chances of you doing this again? Most likely, the chances are good that you will do something like this again because it was a random attack, you harbor a hatred for the kind of person that you attacked, you had no prior history with the person - making "the general public" your target, black people (or gays or trans or whatever) are not safe with you on the street, and things like that. You are given more than 25 years (maybe) because of those reasons.

I am for hate crime legislation. I am not so sure that it is a deterrent.. but a punishment and a safety precaution for the general public. The differences between a crime of passion and a hate crime are notable. In theory, the general public is not at risk from a woman who killed her husband "in the heat of the moment" when she found him sleeping with another woman.. she is given punishment and rehabilitation in jail (we hope) and released. However, the person who kills women because he hates women is a threat to the general public. You can hope for rehabilitation but most likely (with our system) you will not get it. He gets a tougher sentence because if he is released.. the chances of him killing women again are very high.

That is what I see the purpose behind hate crime legislation to be. "Murder is murder" isn't the reality. There are many categories of murder as well as other types of assault.

<3 your blog, by the way. ^_^

angelsdepart said...

That is a very good point, thank you for stopping by!