Hate Crime Bill/Law - Help Me Understand

Discussion in 'Up to the Minute' started by southcitymom, Oct 23, 2009.

  1. southcitymom

    southcitymom New Member

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    I just don't get it. I am a Democrat and liberal in my sensibilities, and this seems to be a Democratic baby, but I am completely uncertain as to WHY we need a federal law setting hate crimes into a special category.

    My understanding is that this arose from the Matthew Shepard case, as sad and horrific a case as any I have followed here at WS.

    All murder is a terrible. Why is it important to focus on motive? Why must a distinction be made when someone is murdered because of their sexual identity or race or religion as opposed to other "reasons?"

    I would love to hear from all sides, but particularly from supporters.

    In all actuality, this "official" nonsensical response to Matt Shepard's murder reminds me of all the "official" nonsensical responses to 9/11 - bureaucratic fiddling in the name of just doing something.
     
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  3. Velouria

    Velouria Don't Drink the Pinellas Punch!

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    I consider myself more of a moderate here in my old age (ahem), but I tend to agree with you, southcitymom. I think we should throw the book at anyone who kills, tortures, or otherwise intentionally assaults another human being, regardless of their motivation. I do however, support the elevation of some crimes to capital offenses in certain circumstances, such as the murder of a law enforcement officer.
     
  4. Mr. E

    Mr. E New Member

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    I have to agree with you. Why categorize murder and violence? Any crime is hate, regardless of race, sexual orientation, or anything else. To me, this just might open up new loopholes for criminals to use to get lighter sentences. Why make the law more complicated than it already is?
     
  5. CyberLaw

    CyberLaw Former Member

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    www.en.wikepedia.org

    Hate crimes (also known as bias-motivated crimes) occur when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her perceived membership in a certain social group, usually defined by racial group, religion, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, gender identity, or political affiliation.


    "Hate crime" generally refers to criminal acts which are seen to have been motivated by hatred of one or more of the listed conditions. Incidents may involve physical assault, damage to property, bullying, harassment, verbal abuse or insults, or offensive graffiti or letters.

    KKK comes to mind.

    White Power groups come to mind.

    So a man is targeted only because he is black.

    A Jewish person is killed because only because they are Jewish

    A gay man is killed because he is gay.

    So of course, criminals do target people of all races and religion, but when those criminals only targets Jewish people, specifically because he "hates" Jewish people and harms Jewish people because of their "religion" then it is a hate crime. If that was "the motivation" for the crime against particular people.

    Some school of thought is a man harming a women is "harming" the women based on her gender. Because she is a women, but that may not be his "pure" motivation for doing so.

    Just for example, a Muslim family is targeted because they are Muslim in a "town that caters to "Christians" and some people in the community may target this family on because they are Muslim, and for no other reason.

    That is why additional "criminal time" is added onto sentences because of the motivation of "hate" and the violation of a persons civil and human rights.

    That makes the crime even worse, because it is not the "victim" fault that the criminals "hate" them, and there is nothing that the "victim" could have done to "avoid" being targeted by people who hate.
     
  6. southcitymom

    southcitymom New Member

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    Thanks CyberLaw. I still think it's silly. For me, if someone is murdered because they are Christian that makes it no better or worse than being murdered because the subject wanted to rape them and get rid of a witness or because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time or, etc...etc...

    (are all rapes against women hate crimes??? - the women are targeted because they are something they cannot change)

    Again - I just don't see how this helps us. It doesn't make sense to me.

    It is NO victim's fault that a criminal wants to hurt them.
     
  7. CyberLaw

    CyberLaw Former Member

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    Two people walk down the street, one white and one black.

    A group of youths on the corner sees them walk by.

    Do they target both, no they leave the "white" guy alone and target the black man because he is black. They "hate" black people and will "target" them as their "main motivation" in any and all the crime they do.

    The white guy was not a victim.

    Usually the "criminals" make no "qualms" about insuring that they "hate" the victim and targeted that "specific" victim for bias reasons.

    That is what "heightens" the crime because of the hate involved.

    When I think of the Roma people, I think of crimes committed against them because they are Roma and nothing else.

    So a witness is killed because of a crime they saw. That of course is terrible. But "being" a witness is not a "human right". That is a "character" or trait of the victim.

    Usually hate and intolerance go hand in hand that is why "hate" usually involves "human rights".

    I guess that is a "specific" clarification.

    For example, Asian fishermen traveled out of the city to a public lake in a fairly large small town. They were very much harassed by the "local" young adults.

    The police were involved. So the question was "were the Asians" targeted because they were Asians or because they "were seen as "outsiders of the town" coming in to "their town" to fish.

    But no racial slurs were used, they were not "targeted" walking out down the street, but only when fishing. So the Crown could not "enhance" the crime to a hate crime which is a rather "high" threshold to meet.

    Matt Sheppard was "murdered "only because he was gay, if he were "not gay" he would be alive. That is the difference.

    What was added to our hate crime" was any language" used that may bring harm amongst a group, in a "nut shell.

    "Like people "preaching" hatred against gays..... that is why "Canada banned the WESTBORO "nut jobs" from coming into Canada.

    They promote "hate".............and no one should have to be "a victim" because of that.

    Just like people's human rights are protected against "discrimination" in a non violent and non criminal manner.

    Do you know that apparently the Secret Service has had to use almost their entire budget to "protect the President and First Lady and family" because of the "unprecedented" amount death threats against them. Unprecedented in the entire history of the US.

    The rise in hate groups went up greatly when Obama was elected.

    That would be people who hate.......based on race, in my opinion. But some of them "do not come right" out and "speak" or act in a manner that can be "construed" as hate, because of course that would be "frowned" upon, but they "come up with other ways" to express their views in their own manner "as a facade" for hate.
     
  8. Mr. E

    Mr. E New Member

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    I can see how a hate crime differs from other crimes (for instance, in the example of the Asian fisherman who were harrassed because they're Asian). My question is, how is this different in a court of law than harrassment without the "hate crime" label? I guess, to clarify, are the harrassers of the Asian fisherman judged more harshly than if they were just harrassing fisherman of indeterminate race?

    Is this clear? I think my question might sound confusing...:crazy:
     
  9. angelmom

    angelmom The love stays...forever in our hearts

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    I don't get it either. Murder is murder.

    Personally I would be really pissed off if my husband or father or brother were killed and their murderer got a lighter sentence than another just because they are white and straight. You know, on top of being upset that they had been murdered.

    I think discrimination could be used as an aggravating circumstance, but IMHO it seems like these laws are dangerous to our civil liberties in that they allow or encourage: double jeopardy (federal charges if the local case doesn't stick), prosecutorial misconduct (if you don't cooperate we'll add hate crime enhancements), and an attempt to regulate people's thoughts.

    We all know you can't legislate hate.
     
  10. Velouria

    Velouria Don't Drink the Pinellas Punch!

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    Amen angelmom. I think the biggest problem I have with hate crime laws are that they fly in the face of the ideal of "blind justice". Just as a defendant should not face judicial discrimination based upon his race, gender, creed, etc., I don't believe we should prosecute a crime differently on the basis of the profile of the victim, either.
     
  11. believe09

    believe09 Active Member

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    I understand and appreciate your explanation, CyberLaw. The fact is that I agree with SCM-all crimes are hate crimes in that crimes are not committed because someone has affection/tolerance/understanding of someone else.

    Was Hitler worse of a murderer for targeting specific groups? Not in my book.

    People victimize based on their need to dominate in some fashion...simplistic but work with me here. They perceive the victim as someone who is available to them based on whatever-age, gender...its almost superfluous really.

    I think it is a step backward to try and separate crimes by racial bias-if we strengthened underlying laws then there would be no need imo to "add on" offenses based on this kind of, umm, faulty thinking.

    How about the man who ran his daughter over for being too "westernized?" Was that a hate crime??
     
  12. PoppyMcTwist

    PoppyMcTwist New Member

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    My problem with hate crime laws is that they seem to only be applied when the victim belongs to "certain" social groups. How often have seen black defendants charged with hate crimes against white victims? How often have we seen men charged with hate crimes against women? How often have we seen Muslims charged with hate crimes against Christians? Not often, if at all. In order for hate crimes to be legitimate, they need to protect all social groups, not just those social groups deemed worthy of "special" protection.

    IMO
     
  13. southcitymom

    southcitymom New Member

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    I have read that about increased death threats against Obama.

    You have done a very good job explaining why hate crimes legislation might make sense. I don't know that I will ever agree that it is necessary, but I appreciate having a better handle on why people favor it.
     
  14. southcitymom

    southcitymom New Member

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    Great post, angel. We are definitely of a like mind on this subject! I too think it's a slippery slope - trying to make laws that peek into motives. I just don't like it.

    Hatred due to race, sex. etc.... as an aggravating factor - sure, that makes sense! But a whole seperate set of laws when we already have laws that deal with people hurting other people - that strikes me as ridiculous.
     
  15. Velouria

    Velouria Don't Drink the Pinellas Punch!

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    Bravo, Poppy. :clap:

    Why weren't the murders committed in Wichita, KS by Jonathan and Reginald Carr prosecuted under the hate crime statutes? Are we to believe white males the only persons capable of committing hate crimes?
     
  16. southcitymom

    southcitymom New Member

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    Thanks for that more technical explanation. Again, I just fundamentally disgree with this. (hate crime legislation - not your post!)
     
  17. believe09

    believe09 Active Member

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    Much clearer than what I wrote.

    So, we can strengthen underlying law (likely a lot more work) or we can tack something on to those whose crimes are especially egregious...or bigoted.

    Hardly seems fair to me.
     
  18. ziggy

    ziggy New Member

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    The problem is that hate is hate and under these laws it is unlikely that if a minority commits a crime against a white man, whether it is racially motivated, it will not be held against him/her as a hate crime.

    I don't think it's fair to single this out. If a man kills his pregnant wife i.e., Lacy Peterson, can't we infer that must have been done out of a hatred? People aren't usually in a good mood when they kill or hurt someone, so it's usually done with anger/hate/malice/vengence or whatever.

    It doesn't make sense and it does not give equal protection under the law imo.
     
  19. sleutherontheside

    sleutherontheside Retired WS Staff

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    I tend to believe that the categorizing of a "hate crime" on its own will allow for more consistent sentencing. As it stands now....one could argue that the accused should receive a lesser sentence based on precedent of similar crimes. The operative word is "similar". By creating its own category, sentencing would likely be more consistent, fair, and less grounds for appeals based upon variations in sentencing. I do not see this as a negative, but rather a positive.
     
  20. CyberLaw

    CyberLaw Former Member

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    Sorry after reading the posts I am very confused. What is it about "crimes that are committed against people "based on nothing they have control over, and is part of their "human" identity.

    Rwanda comes to mind, that is why they have international "crimes" against humanity. The UN court.

    If you think of Genocide past and present it is all based on "crimes" against humanity, which target those people based on THEIR own hate of the person, not anything the person(victim) has done.

    Hate is genocide. Just like "hate" against any "group" is not acceptable. Nor is any act of violence based on any factor that no one has control over.

    Prejudice, intolerance, racism, bias, are all forms of hate and are learned.

    We I do hope live in a more civilized society and we can rise above hate

    But apparently some cannot. Hence the law.
     
  21. OrdinaryLife

    OrdinaryLife New Member

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    A fair example. Bottom line comes down to *who* decides it's a hate crime? I think that is where confusion comes in. What "group", according to lawyers and law, would fit such a bill?

    Murder is murder is murder. Those who commit such crimes should equally be sentenced accordingly. I have always had huge issues the way murder crimes and sentencing are around our country. Some are stiff, some harsh, some 5-20 years, and some death penalty. There is no consistancy within our State to State judicial system. For murder. Forget other crimes. How will anyone, legally, make this work? Sorry, but it reeks of Political Correct bill for me, not one that is fair or will work for anyone. Just something written on paper. Hate crime is very hard to prove.

    imvho
     

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