Hate crime is a term used to describe a crime which was committed on the basis of the sex, race, color, creed, sexuality or religion of the victim.

There is no true need for added penalty for killing someone because they were black as opposed to killing someone because they listened to Perry Como with the volume too loud. Both are just as heinous, but will be prosecuted differently. This is wrong.

Jessie Jackson was one of the proponents of the distinction and greater sentencing for those who commit hate crimes. This was in order to protect the black community. It is unfortunate for him that he failed to actually figure the statistics, which, in 1999, showed that approximately 70% of those found guilty of hate crimes were, in fact, black. The most puzzling part of this finding, though, is that about 15% of those hate crimes were against other blacks.

We do not need additional laws to define crimes as hate crimes or others. Once it has been determined that a person committed a crime with any degree of animosity towards the victim, it is irrelevant why the animosity existed, only that it did.

A point was made in another node that dragging a man to death behind your truck would be a form of terrorism against others of the same group as that man, but I disagree. In some cases this may be correct, but I am positive there have been others where only the twisted enjoyment by the perpetrator prompted the action. People do this same sort of thing to animals. Would it also be suggested that they are trying to terrorize other animals?

While the sentiment behind this movement is not mistaken, the implementation is unnecessary and sets a dangerous precedent for the further prosecution for thought crimes.

I learned something rather disturbing in my legal terminology and personal law classes when I had been studying to become a stenographer. I learned that it is against the law to plan a crime, even if you never commit and never intend to commit said crime. It is not quite as bad as doing it, but nearly. Oh, and even thinking about killing the President is a very bad thing. Of course I also learned the statute of limitations on robbery is 7 years, so if you can keep it hidden that long, it's yours. There is no statute of limitations on murder.

In criminal justice class, I learned that motive does not have to be proven in a criminal justice case, nor is it the business of the government to judge on count of motive.

When you are convicted of murder, the official stance of the government is that it does not matter if you killed someone for drug money, for money to feed your kids, randomly, in a psychotic rage, because the victim was black, because the victim was gay, because you were in a hurry to get to work and wanted to drive on the sidewalk as a shortcut, because you saw murder on TV and thought it looked cool, or because the victim slept with your wife. The victim's rights were violated equally no matter what the reason was. It has nothing to do with morality -- the reason murder is illegal is not because it is "immoral" by some rich white guy's standards but rather because it severely violates the rights of the victim.

Passing hate crime legislation would allow the government to pass moral judgements on people. This is not the place of the government. Who decides what is moral and what is not? It certainly shouldn't be those in Washington - everything would be legal! I do think it's immoral to kill someone because of their race or sexual orientation. But do I want to have my government enforce my morals or rather protect my rights? Seeing as how everyone has a different set of morals, I'd like to stick to the Constitution and protecting our rights.

In the eyes of the government, every murderer is equally guilty. And unless you want the government to start forcing someone else's morality onto you, I suggest you fight to keep it that way. This is America. We condemn actions, not thoughts or speech.

rgladwell: Intent != Motive. The different degrees of murder are based upon how calculated and cold-blooded the murder was and with what intent the crimes were committed. They are not based on why the person committed the crime. And I assure you that my stances on additonal punishment for paedophiles and the War on Some Drugs (stances which I have not expressed on here yet) are quite consistent with my argument here.
I've long been unsure of how to think of hate crime legislation. There are so many problems to make a clear belief at this point... So I'll talk about what I think for now...

First, one common opposition against hate crimes is that motive shouldn't affect the sentencing or anything like that. But motive has ALWAYS been taken into account. Killing someone in self-defense is still killing, it's just your motive for it that is different from just killing them for the fun of it. If motive is irrelevant than self-defense, mental defect, or anything else doesn't mean anything.

But it does seem like it would be wrong to treat the killers of Matthew Shepard, or the guys down in Texas who dragged the black guy with their truck worse than someone else who did the equivalent crime, just without the motive of bigotry. If three guys tied a while guy to their truck, and dragged him for miles, they should be treated the same, because of the cruel nature of the crime.

Maybe the laws shouldn't be against the motive as much as the method. That the penalty for a crime should definately take into account the method in which it was performed. And when a crime is just horribly cruel, torturous, and inhumane, the person should be looked at differently. And maybe this would cover most of what are currently hate crimes, because the rage and hatred of the person who committed the crime is often obvious in how they performed the crime.

I do worry about the poor treatment of minorities by various people in this country, and see the good intentions of wanting to protect them from all the bigotry. Perhaps not give more jail time for those committing hate crimes, but instead, try and get them into programs to encourage tolerance and empathy?

My problem with hate crime legislation is that it sets a dangerous precedent. As Saige puts it, "a hate crime requires an action." I agree completely.

Should the law punish certain crimes more harshly because of the beliefs of the criminal? Is the victim more dead because the killer hated a particular minority group?

Is murder more wrong if a bigot does it? Is assault worse because the victim was black or celibate or Martian or poor? Can the law even determine the state of mind of the perpetrator before the crime occurred? Will it have to guess, and say that all violence against a group of people is worse than violence against a group of other people?

Murder is murder. Assault is assult. Rape is rape. Violence is violence. There are already laws against them. They're horrible enough already. Let the government continue to punish actions, not thoughts.

Reluctantly, I'm in favour of hate crime legislation. It's been shown that hate crimes have a more severe and lasting psychological effect on their victim than if they'd suffered the same crime for another reason. You're more likely to suffer Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, for example.

We punish other crimes more severly if they affect the victim more severely. Attempted murder carries a lower sentence than murder. Like Jackie Mason said: 'They're being penalised for what? Competence?' No. They're being penalised out of society's need for revenge, because the person is gone, and can't enjoy their life any more, and society doesn't have them any more.

So we punish people who commit hate crimes more severely, because they've damaged their victim more, and society more. It's not because of what you were thinking, bigot, it's what you *did*.

It’s worth noting that when performing a hate crime, one is not only attacking the victim but also creating an atmosphere of fear in the minority group the crime is directed against. Furthermore, history tells us that violent crimes against minorities help create a frame of mind in which discrimination is easier. “Heck, I ain’t beating him ‘cause his a Niger, I just want him to drink with his kind.”

The early and mid 20th century taught us some lessons we shouldn’t forget. Even now, in the United States as well as the rest of the world, people are being chased for their sexuality, race and sex. While violence in general shouldn’t be tolerated (it should have its ass kicked ;-) ), violence that intimidates and sends people hiding because of who they are should be more severely punished. A person performing a hate crime isn’t only hurting his/her victim – s/he is intimidating a group and is tearing a hole in the delicate fabric of society.

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