Hate Crimes Bill = Worthless

Has “The Matthew Shepard Act” or “The Hate Crimes bill” poped up anywhere on your computer or TV screen the last pair of weeks?  Probably so.

But what you may not have heard is that it is pointless puffery.  The concept is simple.  If you punch someone in the face because you hate the smell of their colgone, you will be prosecuted for assault.  But, if you punched that person in the face because that person was a part of some special group that has been deemed ‘protected’ than you will get prosecuted for special assault, which will make your punishment worse. 

The hate crimes bill simply adds gays and lesbians to that long list of protected people (like those of different races or those who practice certain religions).

That is of little consequence to the lives of actual LGBT people in this country.  First, the majority of states already have this same protection anyway.  Second, it doesn’t actually do anything to deter that particular crime.  Increased sentencing has little to zero effect on crime prevention.  Third, it gives those opposed to all matters of gay equality a straw man to skewer.  Opponents are right to criticize this legislation as a criminalization of thoughts.  Motivation doesn’t matter in criminal law.  Intent does.  That is not a step we need to take in this country.  Fourth, the ‘gay rights movement’ has wasted years and millions of dollars to get this nonsense jammed through the federal system.  It is wasted time and money, because there are other issues that actually DO effect Americans daily.  Same-sex couples are recognized as complete strangers in the federal system.  Let’s change that.  Gay American serrvicemembers are kicked out dishonorably from the military every day for no other reason than that they were born gay.  Let’s change that.

Let’s not waste political capital passing bad legislation that barely affects anyone.  It is  fluffly over-the-top-politically-correct-hyper-liberal nonsense.

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4 comments

  1. *standing ovation* It’s sad how much time we spend on foofoo instead of concentrating on the more pragmatic issues. I’ve always thought we could be a great nation if we would just learn how to focus.

  2. I generally agree, but perhaps this raises other legal questions. For example, what is the substantial justification for something like “intent to distribute” charges? What are the elements required to discern between assault and attempted murder? I’m not trying to imply an answer, I genuinely don’t know.

  3. Good points all.

    The second question has a more direct answer. There is one element distinguishing assault from attempted murder: the mens rea. The difference is the intention of the criminal (not the motivation). If he intended for the other person’s life to be ended, took a ‘substantial step’ toward that end, but failed, than he would be liable for attempted murder. But if his mental state was anything short of clear desire to end life, than assault alone.

    Your first question speaks more closely to the issue with hate crimes, I think. The ‘intent to distribute’ logic is premised on the harm to society. It is a fundamentally different crime to sell drugs than to ingest oneself. Thus, the intent to distribute is essentially an “attempted sale.” While the conduct is virtually the same between regular possession and intent to distribute, the intent differs. This still has nothing to do with motivation.

    The counter-argument to my position on hate-crimes, is that punching someone because of their cologne hurts society less than punching them because they are gay. In some minds, I suppose that seems logical. But, that goes beyond intent, toward motivation. The same crime has been committed. It is impossible to list the endless reasons why criminals commit the crimes that they do. Statutorily making these distinctions based merely on what groups it is politically advantageous to protect at any given moment is unnecessary. Judges still retain much leeway in sentencing based upon the myriad of intangible factors (though less than in the past). Enshrining this in a one-size-fits-all statutory approach is unwise.

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