Sunday, May 27, 2007

Hate Crime At High School

I don't believe in the concept of hate crimes. I don't care why you commit a crime; if you do the crime, you do the time. I'll accept some circumstances in extenuation or mitigation, but I can't see increasing a penalty because of what a person thought. The crime itself is what merits the punishment. Having "bad thoughts" shouldn't increase the punishment, as the crime itself is what merits the punishment!

I would prosecute this under whatever assault (battery? deadly weapon, perhaps?) statutes already exist.

Perhaps, though, it'll be interesting watching the liberal "hate crimes" lovers explain why these "boys" shouldn't be charged with hate crimes :-) How would the social justice people address this?

Update, 5/29/07: Here's some interesting commentary on proposed hate crime legislation. See if it makes sense to you.

7 comments:

Tony said...

Aren't all assault related crimes about hate to some degree? Why do we need a special category for ones motivated by bigotry? The victims will be no more or less ashamed/battered/dead.

CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

I never gave the concept of "hate crimes" much thought until I read this piece by Law and Order Teacher: http://lawandorderteacher.blogspot.com/2007/05/hate-crimes.html

Now that I read your similar thoughts, I'm thinking that you guys are probably right--and that's coming from the mouth/keyboard of a flaming liberal!

WL said...

This case is one of the few that makes me think an extra charge as a hate crime is appropriate - not because of the thoughts of the perpretrator but because of the subjective experience of the victim.

If some kids hold down a Christian student who has long hair and cut it off, it's an assault, but the student isn't hurt beyond the physical humiliation. For a boy whose religion requires long hair, it's an assault that keeps on giving. He's shamed in a way that most of us probably cannot understand or identify with. This act has echoes of Nazis cutting off the beards of Jews - it wasn't done because the Nazis preferred clean-shaven men, but because they knew how deeply offensive it was to Jews *as Jews*.

I wonder if some Christians wouldn't see this issue a little differently if a group of Muslims held down some Catholic kid in the Bible belt and made him yell not "Uncle" but "I renounce Jesus and accept Allah!"

And I say all of this as someone who, for the most part, does not approve of hate-crimes laws.

WL said...

I should have added, too, that although you may not care what anyone is thinking when he commits a crime, the law does. Thus, we have general intent crimes, specific intent crimes, and both crimes and torts that refer in their definitions to the state of mind of the actor.

Again, I am generally against the extension of states of mind to a special category known as "hate crimes," but that's not because there's anything unusual about the law taking state of mind into account. And even in the case you posted about, I would prefer to see it charged as an aggravated assault because of the religious component.

Darren said...

WL, I understand your point. Intent does have a place in law--that's why we have Murder I, murder II, manslaughter, etc.

However, to try to "up the bar" so to speak and state that a crime was committed out of hate--I can't think of too many crimes committed out of love. And heck, if I got angry enough in a fight I could call out some kind of epithet--not because I'm (fill in the blank)_ist, but merely because I know it would tick off my antagonist more. Trying to read my intent at that moment wouldn't be very accurate, would it?

So-called hate crimes are nothing more than a liberal attempt at thought control via political correctness.

And CaliforniaTeacherGuy, our plan for you is working! :-) Glad this blog is allowing you the opportunity to consider your own convictions. I can't tell you how rewarding it is to be part of that process.

Law and Order Teacher said...

I have real world experience with "hate crimes." While I recognize that some people act with malice in their hearts when committing crimes, I am fundamentally opposed to adding another layer of guilt to a crime because of the frame of mind or thoughts of the person committing it. All crimes are hate crimes regardless of the reason it was committed and who it was committed against. It is a hate crime for no other reason than it demonstrates a hatred for the laws of society. Hate crimes are simply political correctness and thought control. Whenever the government gets into the business of punishing thought it gets into a dangerous business. What happens when the thought being punished is one with which you agree?

Tony said...

Update: So if I'm at a bar and guy wearing a Sportsmen for Bush t-shirt bumps into me, spilling my drink, can I punch him without being accused of a hate crime? Probably, although I don't think it would get as much attention as the opposite, Red on Blue crime.