Those Hateful Hate Crimes

May 16th, 2009

A small article in a recent USA Today mentioned that, on the previous day, the State of Maryland added homeless people to their growing list of people who are protected under hate crimes legislation. What this means is, if you commit a crime against a homeless person because they are homeless or a crime against a person because of their race, religious beliefs, national origin, disability, gender or sexual orientation you will wind up with extra time in jail or an extra large fine, depending on the nature of the crime. If you commit the same crime against an old, Caucasian blogger like me, however, or against someone’s non-minority mother the punishment would not be that severe.

George Orwell drafted the first hate crimes legislation in his book 1984 when he introduced the “thought police.” That is essentially what hate crimes legislation is all about — what you were thinking when you committed the crime. It’s sad we have degenerated as a society to that point.

Sadder still, we will never get back to the day when all people were protected equally and none were considered special cases — legislation never seems to go away, it is just amended.

If you hate homeless people and go out and assault the first homeless person you see — that’s a hate crime (at least in Maryland). OK, I’ll buy that. Buy why the harsher sentence for the offender? Someone who would do that doesn’t need an extra year in jail or an extra $10,000 fine; someone who does that needs psychiatric treatment, or perhaps that person needs to be waterboarded until he sees the error of his ways.

Seriously though, a harsher sentence will do little to make that offender change his mind, and history has proven that harsher sentences that relate to “crimes of passion” have nearly zero effect on other offenders. When a person commits a crime bred by hatred, their brain is not fully engaged in the process; it all happens in the loins.

In spite of all that, here’s some news you might not have read in your local paper; this is from an article by Nat Hentoff, originally published in Real Clear Politics:

“Why is the press remaining mostly silent about the so-called “hate crimes law” that passed in the House on April 29? The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act passed in a 249-175 vote (17 Republicans joined with 231 Democrats). These Democrats should have been tested on their knowledge of the First Amendment, equal protection of the laws (14th Amendment), and the prohibition of double jeopardy (no American can be prosecuted twice for the same crime or offense). If they had been, they would have known that this proposal, now headed for a Senate vote, violates all these constitutional provisions.

This bill would make it a federal crime to willfully cause bodily injury (or try to) because of the victim’s actual or perceived “race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability” – as explained on the White House Web site, signaling the president’s approval. A defendant convicted on these grounds would be charged with a “hate crime” in addition to the original crime, and would get extra prison time.”

Hate crimes, in spite of the obvious Constitutional restrictions, will now, you can be 99% sure, become Federal law.

My conclusion is, the only hope for this country is to vote out every member of the Senate and House of Representatives, vote out Barack Obama and start over again. Maybe next time we can get people in these offices who have something inside their heads except greed, power and political correctness.

News Links:

Real Clear Politics: ‘Thought Crimes’ Bill Advances
Iowa Independent: Politifact: King’s statements on hate crimes bill are ‘pants on fire’ lies

Blog Links:

Beetle Blogger: Shepard vs. Shephard — Why Unnecessary Hate Crimes Laws Deny Equal Protection
The Kansas Progress: Special Protection or Special Consideration?

(This article was also posted at My View from the Center.)


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11 Responses to “Those Hateful Hate Crimes”



  1. Tom |

    I completely agree. I’ve never understood the rationale behind hate-crimes laws. What’s the purpose, aside from politically correct responses to passions of the moment?

    Is it supposed to make sense, somehow, that murder is more or less serious because the murderer may hate the victim because of his protected status? If a black man murders a black woman and her children, or a white man murders a white woman and her children, are those somehow lesser murders because certain kinds of hate aren’t an issue? What nonsense.


  2. Brian |

    The sad fact is that for blacks “covered” by these laws is that they are considerably more likely to be murdered by another black, just as whites are considerably more likely to be murdered by another white. There is a logical contradiction here, a white elephant in the living room that nobody in power wants to talk about.

    The law must be, above all else, logically consistent. If these are “hate crimes” then what, pray tell, are “love crimes”? Criminal law must deal with what is the case, or what is not the case. To deal with what might possibly be the case, it must necessarily become arbitrary at some point.

    To paraphrase Rand, dictatorships do not dominate their people with laws enforced with military precision, they dominate their people by enforcing the law randomly, so that no man may know what he might be able to do from one moment to the next. People can deal with the the inflexible, even the unfair, if it is dispensed with consistency. We simply cannot remain sane with an inconsistent world around us.


  3. Pdon |

    If the purpose of anti-hate crime legislation can be taken to be that of deterrance, an emphasis on the treatments for those who a “guilty mind”, particularily punitive treatment should be expected. However, is it correct that legislators should pettifogg and prance on the subject of compartmentalizing the divisions within society – in particular victims, and vie away from the matter at hand — preventative behaviourial socialization.

    In terms of perfection, precision is appropriate in treating crime. But in a generalized sense with such widespread criminal activity, general pro-active behaviour on behalf of legislators is needed. To root out the causes of crime in general – personal, economic, mental, and invest their time and effort in preventing crime from occuring instead of debating minority fringe issues to do with specific groups. This would be the first rational step : to treat the illness not its symptoms.


  4. Harvey |

    Pdon,

    As I see it there are only two ways to prevent at least most crime from occurring: institute either 1) a police state with a total ban against any activity after dark enforced by the constant presence of military troops on our streets or 2) use some form of social engineering or behavior modification on a grand scale. Even if there are more ways to prevent criminal activity I certainly wouldn’t want our legislators involved in the process.

    People are imperfect and commit crimes for many, many reasons; the way we deal with that right now — outside the realm of hate crime legislation (the thought police), is probably the best we can expect without the government taking over our lives and subverting our Constitution in the process.


  5. Pdon |

    People commit crimes for many reasons, granted. Historically there was a prevalance of material crime – as many people were below subsistance level, and violence in commission was functional. Many crimes nowadays are not as clearly linked to a cause – but this should not be taken as evidence that a cause does not exist. Violence nowadays is seen as an acceptable form of dispute resolution, an extension of education into alternative forms of dispute resolution, transcending negotiation, with perhaps a slant toways mediation based practice would reduce the need for violence as a form of expression in terms of dis-agreement. That is just one example. On the subject of hate crime the violence is a symptom of percieved inequality or injustice, in general we can assume two things from it – the perpetrators of hate crime feel that: a) the group they are assaulting is getting preferential treatment and / or more rights – OR b) that the group they are assaulting is in some way inferior. These must be seen in terms of the perpetrators perception.
    To reduce hate crime it would be essention to promote an understanding of equality, not a cursory legal term. People must internalize the ideology of equality, this should lead them to not percieve anyone as inferior / superior – this can quite easily be achieved by promoting societal intergration in all areas of the seconday and primary socialization stages. Furthermore, avoiding the institution of “positive discrimination” should lead people to percieve all acts and encouters in terms of their merit, not something imposed from above deciding who is “better” or “worse”.


  6. Harvey |

    Pdon,

    You’re talking like a textbook! We’re not training animals we are dealing with quirky, messed up humans who do not necessarily have your “understanding of equality” how do you propose to instill this in them — by force? And how does one promote “societal intergration in all areas of the seconday and primary socialization stages.” What does that mean anyway? It sounds like you’re saying that MORE “thought police” activity is required, not less!


  7. Pdon |

    Internalization is the process wherein people come to take something for granted – as in a given fact. For the majority of the population things such as racial & gender equality becomes “internalized” through their growing up (socialization) from family, friends, media, education etc.
    An increase in the promotion of such learning (especially if compounded by experiential methods) should yet further decrease the number of people who discriminate.
    When I see discrimination do I think that it is a symptom of a persons lack of awareness or do I immediatly jump on the bandwagon of political correctness and blame the person? I would find it hard not to accept that a truly integrated individual is not able to discriminate.

    To legislate for particular equalities or promote them through a social institute is not allways a bad thing – all moral instruction comes from socialization – to increase the spectrum of this and emphasise certain elements through media, education and most importantly experiential learning, people should come to see that cursory discrimination – the cause of hate crime, is something not only bad, but foolish.


  8. Harvey |

    Pdon,

    What you say about internalization is no doubt true but the idea in your second paragraph:

    “An increase in the promotion of such learning (especially if compounded by experiential methods) should yet further decrease the number of people who discriminate.”

    That sounds a bit to Orwellian for my tastes.

    As you could probably tell from what I’ve written, I want the government OUT of socialization, internalization and all such social interrelationships (including, as you probably read in a recent post, the issuance of marriage licenses and all legislation in favor of or opposed to abortion rights.)

    It appears from your writing that you find the government a solution to social ills not, an agency that exacerbates those ills.


  9. Pdon |

    If all people are created equal, how can this not be known? Surely this is indicative of a failing from society. The notion of equality itself, to be self – evident would require a detachment from the physical, which is something probably beyond the grasp of many people to understand alone, without instruction. Physical and behaviourial differences in the populace are marked, and it is not surprising that some people percieve that people are indeed, not equal. For a moral stance of equality to prosper, it must be promoted from above, be it the family, school, media, or government. This has to be promoted. The idea of legislation en masse, (just like burocracy en masse) is a self-defeating one, the notion that centralization is better than delagation is counterproductive in all units, from a government to a school.

    The government should be (and at present isn’t) an agent which facilitates the maintainance, security and change in society, & whilst it is good to avoid a police state, it is hardly “Orwellian” to encourage positive cultural change, like in the past different social groups (women, ethnic minorities) have secured the vote. It is hardly immoral to pass on through education and the media, a relational model (wherein people can relate to) of the self evidence of equality – which instead of passing down in a legislative fashion, facilitates scenarios wherein people experience (and thus generate their own understanding) of the nature of equality. Quite simply, to encourage multi-cultural interaction and co-operation on all levels of society, from the individual to the neighborhood.

    The idea being, a notion created by the individual themselves as a distillation of their experience, is far more potent than anything they read in a book, or are told in an empty way – it goes beyond the theoretical, and becomes real.


  10. Harvey |

    To begin with, the slogan (and that’s what it is) that all people are created equal sounds nice but it isn’t true. People are created with different mental abilities and capacities and people are created with different physical abilities and capacities. The truth is that all people are not created equal but all people are considered equal under our laws.

    You and I have every right to dislike someone (or even feel a stronger emotion: hate) because of the way that person behaves or even for the way that person looks. There is nothing illegal about hate, it is the ACT of violence that is illegal.

    We are a nation of laws! I’m happy with that system!

    Then we get to the government! As I see it, the government’s Constitutional role has NOTHING to do with being “an agent which facilitates the maintainance, security and change in society”. Others may see the Federal government’s role as caretaker of society but I do not, I see it as caretaker of America’s security and arbiter of disputes between the states. Once the government steps outside of its Constitutional bounds (which it does regularly and has been doing for many years), and once it begins to be accepted and indeed expected by the majority of citizens, we are on a very slippery slope indeed sir. You seem to not only accept it but encourage it.

    I prefer a society where people are bound by written law and not by the expectations of social activists.

    Every good parent, every church, every benevolent organization and every individual should do what they can to curb crime and foster acceptance of all people being equal UNDER LAW but we must realize that people who act illegally are NOT our equals! I am not an equal to the street gang thug that will put a bullet into an innocent person out for a walk and then steal their possessions — I don’t want to be considered equal to someone like that and don’t want that person to think he (or she) is my equal.

    We have institutions and systems to deal with crime and criminals but, getting WAY back to the original point of this article, if a crime is committed, a crime is committed. If the criminal has particularly ill feelings toward the victim, so be it! If the criminal has the need for psychiatric care and treatment they should get that care and treatment. The motive for committing a crime may be interesting, it may help solve crimes but it should not, at least as I see it, be a determinant in the ultimate sentence of the criminal.

    We could go on with this back and forth forever and I’m sure no minds would be changed. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree!


  11. Opinion Forum » Blog Archive » Hate Criminals Not Intimidated |

    […] as I said before in an earlier article, I feel that hate crime legislation violates the Fourteenth Amendment (equal protection under the […]


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