Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hate crimes

This from CBS News:

Last week, House Republican Leader John Boehner objected to House passage of a bill that would expand hate crime laws and make it a federal crime to assault people on the basis of their sexual orientation.
"All violent crimes should be prosecuted vigorously, no matter what the circumstance," he said. "The Democrats' 'thought crimes' legislation, however, places a higher value on some lives than others. Republicans believe that all lives are created equal, and should be defended with equal vigilance."
Based on that statement, contacted Boehner's office to find out if the minority leader opposes all hate crimes legislation. The law as it now stands offers protections based on race, color, religion and national origin.
In an email, Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith said Boehner "supports existing federal protections (based on race, religion, gender, etc.) based on immutable characteristics."

I’m actually with Boehner on this one — until it comes to his rationale.

I’ve always thought “hate crime” enhancement was a crock. Motive is an element of guilt, but it shouldn’t be an element of punishment. A man who kills another man because he hates him personally has commited a crime every bit as heinous as a man who kills someone for racial or religious reasons. Hate is hate, murder is murder.

But Boehner’s rationale here is troubling. Mainly because he’s either a fool or a bigot (or both). Religion apparently is an “immutable characteristic” even though people can and do change their religion, sometimes several times. But being gay is not?

Personally, I’d rather see the whole idea of “hate crimes” scrapped.” But if you’re going to have such definitions, sexual orientation should certainly be on the list. And Boehner and his ilk need to get a clue.

Jim Cornelius, Editor


  1. "Hate Crime" legislation is no more than a feel good, knee jerk reaction by a small group (sorry to say liberal leaning) of people. We have laws on the books to protect all people equally, lets just enforce them.

  2. Hate crimes legislation is designed to do two things:

    1) provide a mechanism for prosecution when local jurisdictions refuse to do it, as was the case with lynchings of blacks in the south

    2) and provide resources, ie money to pursue the investigations that are required to prosecute, when local jurisdictions acknowledge the crime.

    The result of this is to provide a deterrent that prevents bigots from violently acting out on their poisonous beliefs.

    It is anything but Feel good, it has a real effect.

  3. 2:49 I tend to disagree. As i remember, hate crimes legislation was as a result of the "Matthew Sheapard case" where a white, gay student was drug behind a pick up truck to his death. I am not sure if its just me but I rarely hear lynchings ? Regarding "resources", oh please, resources for prosecuting a murder case are never lacking.

  4. The two reasons given by anon are valid reasons one might use to argue in favor of Hate Crimes legislation, but I fail to see a logical link between them and a claimed deterrent that follows in anon's argument.

    I find it hard to believe that anyone who truly thinks and behaves in ways targeted by these laws would be deterred by anything.

    I also hope it is never suggested, and I don't think it was here, that we legislate what beliefs people can and cannot have.