Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Hate Crimes

Anna Venger is discussing hate crimes and protected classes of citizens:
So why is it more wrong to hurt certain classes of people than others? Isn’t it just wrong to hurt people? Period?

Obviously, some groups of people are more favored than others in the eyes of certain members of Congress. For example, some Republicans had tried to include additional classes of citizens—children, members of the military, the elderly, the homeless—but their attempts were shot down. So sexual identity gets a pass, but children and the elderly don’t. I guess all people are equal, but some are more equal than others.
I'm not a big fan of hate crime law. I fail to see why killing a man for being gay is worse than killing a man for, say, wearing a colored T-shirt in the wrong gang's neighborhood. Or for having the wrong skin color. Why should some people be more equal in the eyes of the law than others?

I have a bigger problem with it because judging hate crimes is almost always a matter of judging intent of the perpetrator. I think courts can do a great job at judging a person's actions. "Your Honor, the forensic findings show that it was Colonel Mustard in the Conservatory with the Candlestick." I can handle that. But judging what is going on inside someone's head is something else. I don't trust courts to read minds.

And that isn't even touching on "hate speech" which has magically turned citizens free expression rights on their heads.

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