Debunking the Hate Crimes Myth October 16, 2009

Debunking the Hate Crimes Myth

Federal hate crimes laws currently do not protect people who are victims due to their sexual orientation.

Conservative Christians keep complaining that if a current bill — the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act — gets passed, they won’t be able to spew their anti-gay rhetoric in church.

Which isn’t true at all. Pastors could continue to say whatever they want against homosexuality. They have a right to free speech, including the right to sound like pompous bigots. They don’t have a right to directly incite violence, though.

Dan Savage suggests a way to debunk the Religious Rights’ lie:

A group of liberal pastors should announce that they’re going to mount the pulpit in a particular church at particular time and preach a series of vile, hateful sermons — one right after the other — attacking people of various races and ethnicities, attacking men and women in turn, attacking people for being white, yellow, and brown, and attacking people of other faiths. The semons should rely on biblical passages that have been historically used to justify attacks on and discrimination against people of different faiths, races, ethnicities, genders, etc., though the ages. Alert the authorities and challenge them to come and arrest all these pastors for preaching hate against groups who are already covered by federal hate crime laws.

They won’t be arrested, of course, because it’s not a crime to be a vile, hateful religious bigot now and it won’t be a crime after sexual orientation is added to the federal hate crimes law.

Some of you out there must run your local churches, right?

Who’s in?

(via Daily Dish)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • I am a nontheist, and I hate bigotry, but if someone were to satirically do such a thing, I would support it whole-heartedly.

  • Why is it that the religious right lies so much? I thought that the religious were claiming that they were morally superior to unbelievers but all I see is the religious being violent, hateful and deceitful.

    Why don’t they practice what they preach?

  • Sean Wills

    Of course, they won’t do anything of the sort, because they’re only interested in having sexual orientation excluded from hate crime legislation. Protection based on race, ethnicity and religious beliefs are fine, but anything ‘affirming’ homosexuality will always be wrong.

    Someone on their side recently argued that only immutable characteristics should be protected by hate crimes legislation – which according to him includes religious belief (!) and excludes sexual orientation. In other words, ‘it’s a choice’.

  • I’m not sure I see this as a good idea. Do we really want to be telling these people that’s it is still OK for them to be foaming, raving, unintellectual bigots from the pulpit?

    I think we need to forcefully hammer home to these people, every time they open their mouths, that the opinions they are expressing make them loathesome to the rest of the population. We need to point out to them that the great majority of Americans (and North Americans) think they are batshit insane. We neeed to tell them, in no uncertain terms, that they are on the outside looking in, and we’re not opening the door until they smarten the fuck up.

  • David

    I wish my fellow skeptics and atheists would apply some of their critical thinking skills to the subject of “hate crimes”. You know, just because the religious right is against something doesn’t automatically make it right. Allowing the government the moral authority to apply harsher penalties according to what they perceive to be a person’s thoughts is a scary, religious idea to me.

  • Speaking of the Hate Crimes bill, did anyone else catch that earlier this week House Republican Leader John Boehner said that religious beliefs are “immutable” while sexual orientation is not?

    http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/10/13/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry5381671.shtml

  • David: Next time someone burns a cross on a black man’s front lawn I would like for you to explain to him why we should only be able to prosecute the people who did it on arson charges and trespassing.

    Hate crimes aren’t thought crimes. They rely on intent just like almost many other violent crime laws. Hate crimes aren’t like every other violent crime because they are done as an political act of intimidation. They aren’t just a crime against an individual, they are a crime against an entire group of people. I personally feel that it is a form of terrorism and should be punished harsher than normal acts of violence.

  • Polly

    I think we need to forcefully hammer home to these people, every time they open their mouths, that the opinions they are expressing make them loathesome to the rest of the population.

    Then use YOUR freedom of speech to TELL them that; using WORDS not government force.

  • David

    “Hate crimes aren’t thought crimes. They rely on intent just like almost many other violent crime laws. Hate crimes aren’t like every other violent crime because they are done as an political act of intimidation.”

    But crimes motivated by hate can be committed by the minority on the majority. You are placing yourself as the moral authority, judging what is or is not “hate”. And a perpetrator’s “intent” is not the same as their “motive”. If you intend to kill someone, your motives may still be safely locked away in your head and not readable by anyone. Unless you’re claiming to be Sylvia Browne, of course…

    Atheists are still a minority. Should an identical crime committed by a religious person against an atheist deserve harsher punishment than a crime committed by an atheist in reverse? Of course not. Crimes should all be judged equally.

    You’re using the supposed moral authority of government to justify your bigotry in the same way the religious right uses the supposed moral authority of Christianity.

  • I’m on the fence on this one, friendly. The only people in church are volunteers. I think the freedom of expression should work just fine in a group of volunteers even though I already know I don’t agree with their content. We can disagree publicly with their statements and that’s ok, but to take away their right to say it is problematic. However, and you’ve said this, acting on bigotry by committing a real crime is where we fight this one.

    To reiterate, we can’t change how people feel, we fight on the battleground of what they can do. And speech happens to straddle that distinction in a fuzzy way where fixing the hate crime imposes a thought crime.

  • Hemant,

    I think the argument that some of the slightly more sophisticated paranoiacs are using is that if a preacher froths about teh gayz, and then a parishioner goes out and performs some violent act, then the preacher can be arrested for inciting violence. It’s not that the preacher will be arrested for the original words, but as collateral damage in the arrest of the perpetrator of the physical crime. That’s a little squirrelier to reply to when you’re talking to people like my brother in law.

  • dddave

    Hm. So if a lefty journal posts a piece about how ‘ebil’ ‘corporashuns’ are and someone who reads it goes and burns up a cardealer or whatever, can the writer be put in jail for incitement?

    The whole idea of hate crimes is ludicrous. It just says crimes against group ‘x’ are more serious than crimes about group ‘y’. What if the law said that crimes against white makes carried longer prison sentences? How would be all feel about that?

  • Miko

    Federal hate crimes laws currently do not protect anyone from crime. The notion that anyone wouldn’t be dissuaded by the laws against the crime itself but would be dissuaded by the additional law against the hate crime is absurd. They may in certain cases allow the victim (or, more typically, the state) to engage in a greater degree of vengeance separate from what is required for restitution and reasonable deterrence, but are in no way related to either crime prevention or justice.

    Next time someone burns a cross on a black man’s front lawn I would like for you to explain to him why we should only be able to prosecute the people who did it on arson charges and trespassing.

    Fair enough: First off, let’s clarify what you said, as your statement is inaccurate. “We” (by which I assume you mean “the government”) shouldn’t be able to prosecute them at all; justice is a matter between the involved individuals, so third parties have no right to prosecute, period. So let’s amend the question to “why should the government have an even weaker moral claim to punish hate than it does to punish arson and trespass?” But this is still flawed, since hate is an internal emotional state which is inherently unknowable to all but the individual feeling the hate, so the best we (or, more probably, the government) can do is try to create a list of actions that when committed suggest that the actor may have been acting out of hate, so we amend again to “why should we consider the claim of the government to have the right to punish a person for committing one of a vaguely defined set of actions independently of whether or not they involve physical harm against another person (or their property) to be morally inferior to its claim to have the right to punish a person for committing one of a precisely defined set of actions that do involve physical harm against another person (or their property)?”

    I consider the answer to this correctly stated form of the question to be so blatantly obvious as to not need mentioning, but since others disagree, I will nonetheless give a few different answers:

    1) Constitutional: The Constitution prohibits the creation of ex-post laws, which, due to the vague nature of the definition of “hate,” prohibits hate crime laws. Since the Constitution is the government’s only claim to monopolize legitimate violence within the territory it asserts authority over, it certainly has no right to make such a law, even if you do accept that the Constitution is a valid “social contract.”

    2) Federalist: The Constitution further provides a very narrow list of crimes which can be prosecuted at the federal level. Hate crimes are not on this list, so even if such a law were somehow designed to avoid objection (1), it would still be improper at the federal level. (This is not to say that I’d support the law at the state level or that I think that the government should have the authority to prosecute the crimes listed in the Constitution.)

    3) Logical: As mentioned at the start of my comment, such laws don’t protect anyone, so there is no deterrent reason to have them. Further, after the crime has already occurred, it seems unlikely that (as a general rule) providing an extra hate crime prosecution would better provide restitution to the victim. Deterrence and restitution are the sole functions of a criminal justice system, so there is no legitimate need for such a law.

    4) Public choice: Note that due to the amorphous nature of the definition of the word “hate” as discussed above, such laws will undoubtedly involve vast amounts of discretion, mainly by prosecutors and judges. If we assume that people don’t become angels upon entering the government’s employ, it follows that these people will have motives and goals of their own in addition to the stated goals of the Department of Justice and that these personal goals will influence how they carry out their work. Prosecutors in particular are notorious for trying to win fame, reelection, and promotion to themselves through grand-standing in high-profile cases. In cases where such a law might be beneficial (assuming such cases exist), there would be little motivation for a prosecutor to push for its enforcement since the victims in such cases are rarely high profile individuals. Conversely, in high profile cases where the law is completely inapplicable, prosecutors would nonetheless be likely to try to throw such a charge in anyway in order to “raise the stakes.”

    5) Universal ethic: Kantian and other systems of ethics have as a fundamental principle that justice be implemented as universal rules and hence be agent neutral. Hate crime laws fail this requirement on two points: first, perpetrators are treated differently based on motivation and second, the judge/prosecutor is set apart from all others by having the unique authority to determine whether a given crime is a hate crime. (The fact that these also come up in other areas of law as well indicates a failing of those sections, not a justification for hate crime legislation.) A system of law which fails the agent neutrality test is based not on justice but on the judgment of a small oligarchy independently of the wisdom of their decisions and quickly descends into one in which their decisions are not respected due to common acceptance of their fairness but due to fear of crossing these powerful individuals. Such a system is improper in a free society.

    6) Parsimony: The number of crimes that would be classified as “hate crimes” (assuming that public choice issues in the definition of the term are avoided) is so small that the added complexity of the legal code from creating such a class of crimes would cause more disruption than benefit. Further, if at some point in the future the number of such crimes were to increase to a point in which having such legal codes in place would become worthwhile, historical evidence suggests that the government would become unwilling to enforce the laws at that point anyway, making the issue moot. (See for example the role of the German government in hate-motivated crime against Jews in the WWII era.)

    7) Rawls’ veil of ignorance, liberal neutrality, and “justice as fairness”: (Note: This argument requires one accept the principles of liberalism. Conservatives will probably want to ignore this argument and focus on the first six.) Philosopher John Rawls has suggested that we construct a metaphorical veil of ignorance when developing our conception of social justice, so that “everyone is impartially situated as equals.” This scenario highlights the danger of giving one small group the kind of authority over others required to implement hate crime legislation. Further, Rawls also argues for liberal neutrality, i.e., the principle that government should not place one conception of ‘common good’ ahead of others. While any universal ethic will condemn all crime as wrong, a plan to punish crimes differently based on factors beyond the crimes themselves (and, in particular, beyond what is necessary for restitution and reasonable deterrence) will be based on a conservative “law and order” ethos placing the security of the state apparatus ahead of competing concerns and as such violating the neutrality condition. This also ties into the idea of “justice as fairness,” since hate crime legislation necessarily goes beyond these constraints as noted above.

  • Miko

    @dddave: Hm. So if a lefty journal posts a piece about how ‘ebil’ ‘corporashuns’ are and someone who reads it goes and burns up a cardealer or whatever, can the writer be put in jail for incitement?

    No, as mentioned above, this particular conception of hate crime is not focused on incitement. The idea is still ridiculous, but your straw-man attack is just a waste of time.

    It just says crimes against group ‘x’ are more serious than crimes about group ‘y’.

    It may do this de facto, but this is not a necessary conclusion de jure.

  • Richard P

    It’s not that the preacher will be arrested for the original words, but as collateral damage in the arrest of the perpetrator of the physical crime.

    Good the preacher should be afraid of this. The preacher should also be held accountable for it.

  • selfification

    David: Next time someone burns a cross on a black man’s front lawn I would like for you to explain to him why we should only be able to prosecute the people who did it on arson charges and trespassing.

    “Hello friendly black neighbor. I heard that some jackhole burnt a cross on your front lawn. I am sorry about that? Would you like help? I am here to provide you support, comfort and peace of mind and I’m sure the other non-bigoted, friendly neighbors are looking out for you as well. Please report this arson and trespass to the local police. If we see anything suspicious we’ll inform the police as well.”

  • Miko

    @Iason: I personally feel that [the burning cross hypothetical] is a form of terrorism and should be punished harsher than normal acts of violence.

    This, by the way, is why we shouldn’t have laws against “terrorism” qua “terrorism” either: it’s another one of those words which means nothing in the abstract. The fact that you happen to think this carries no more moral weight than the fact that Fred Phelps thinks that the existence of gays causes terrorist attacks against the U.S.

  • selfification

    ==Miko

    Punish people for what they did (objective). Although, rehabilitation is always a better alternative… punishment is such useless way to change a person’s ideas through fear. But thats a different debate.

  • Dave B.

    From what I’ve read, the worries come not just from the addition of protected classes, but also to new enforcement provisions which could allow a clever prosecutor to charge people for hate speech if some crazy guy goes and acts on it.

    It may be fair to argue that such a person should be liable, but that’s not what you’re doing here. The argument here that the new law must by necessity be enforced in the same manner as an older, similar law seems spurious.

  • Buffy

    They won’t be arrested, of course, because it’s not a crime to be a vile, hateful religious bigot now and it won’t be a crime after sexual orientation is added to the federal hate crimes law.

    Well duh! How many clergy have been arrested for preaching against every religion but their own despite the existence of hate-crimes laws protecting the religious? Have members of the KKK been arrested for “hate speech”? Have any of us been arrested for “hate speech” despite the (sometimes very harsh) things we say against religion? No. Because the laws have nothing to do with speech and everything to do with actions.

    But far be it from the RRRW to be truthful.

  • bigjohn756

    Why is it necessary to differentiate between so called hate crimes and other crimes which have the same results? There is no difference between beating a guy to death because I hate him, for whatever reason, and beating someone to death in order to take his wallet. As a matter of fact, if I beat someone to death because I hate him then I should take his wallet to avoid the more severe punishment meted out for a hate crime. After all, no one can ever determine that I killed him because I hated him, so, I’ll just take his wallet to be certain.

  • The law would not hinder their bigoted behavior in church but, even if it did, I don’t accept that as a valid reason to oppose it. If what their religion preaches is in violation of a hate crime law, then the problem is with the religion, not with the law.

    They can either join the rest of us in the modern world or they can leave to go live in one of the many theocracies around the world. The rest of us will no longer tolerate their bigotry, hatred or stupidity polluting our culture.

  • Pseudonym

    Back on topic…

    A group of liberal pastors should announce that they’re going to mount the pulpit in a particular church at particular time and preach a series of vile, hateful sermons — one right after the other — attacking people of various races and ethnicities, attacking men and women in turn, attacking people for being white, yellow, and brown, and attacking people of other faiths.

    I don’t know of a single liberal cleric anywhere who would be willing to do this, even satirically.

    At the risk of invoking Godwin’s Law, would you be willing to stand up in public and deliver Neo-Nazi propaganda just to prove a point? What if you had also a public profile to protect? Even actors find this hard when they have to do it as part of a performance.

  • muggle

    Hate crime is thought crime. Plain and simple.

    And hate crime is just plain hateful and mean-spirited. Kind of makes it guilty of exactly what it’s attempting to outlaw. (As if thoughts can be controlled.) It is nothing but a tool to oppress and try to scare people into “right” thinking.

    And I hate how they’re exploiting Matthew Shepherd to advocate hate. To legalize hurting people (by way of an extra punishment) they hate.

  • keddaw

    Hate crime legislation is wrong on every level. Let me go through the arguments one by one and tell me where my logic is flawed:

    “Hate crimes are terrorism.” Okay, but we have laws that deal with terrorism. Charge people with that crime and let the jury decide.
    “Hate crimes target more than just the victim but a whole bunch of other people.” Okay, but again this is much like terrorism above. Is it better that the group that is caused indirect harm by the attack is bigger or smaller? If bigger then surely random killings/beatings make the whole community fear and should be subject to harsher penalties (by your logic) than those that target a smaller minority? If a smaller group is worse, due to concentration of fear and increased likelihood that you’ll be next, then surely someone who targets an individual or an individual family is much more guilty of a hate crime than if they target a whole community. But targetting one family that you pick at random from the phone book isn’t a hate crime, even though the suffering is much worse, by your logic.

    “Hate crime legislation protects peoples who have historically been victimised.” So if I come up with a new prejudice that’s not a hate crime? If I choose to target people who have blonde hair because traditionally blondes have been okay I am not perpetrating a hate crime, but if I choose people with black skin that is?

    “Hate crime legislation reduces attacks on minorities” Maybe it does, but how does it do it? And does it lead to attacks on others instead? e.g. A white and a black are walking together and a known racist sees them. If he attacks the black after they split up he gets 10 years so he attacks the white and gets 2 years. The crime is the saem, the reason is the same but the punishment is different. If the reduction in hate crimes is due to the fact that perpetrators are in prison longer then that may not be the worst thing. However, is it proportional? Is the increase in sentencing and the reduction in crime a porportional resonse or is it overkill? I don’t have the facts to hand but hopefully someone will; but even if the facts make a case for it, the idea that justice is blind trumps it in my view.

    I have a host of others, but I have to go. WIll gladly respond to anyone who sees a whole in any of these ideas or who has some view why hate crime legislation is right that I have not covered.

    I am willing to be convinced, but have yet to see any compelling argument to change my view.

  • Staceyjw

    I’ve also been on the fence with this one.

    I think the main conflict is that people don’t think that a crime committed against one type of person (gay) is any different than the same crime committed against a different type (straight) of person. This makes sense, as the action and end result are the same. Why treat them differently?

    However- Our legal system DOES consider intent and motive, and charges and punishes people according to cultural norms and standards. This is something that is considered in nearly every case- laws with mandatory minimums are the only crimes that are punished equally, without regard to intent or situation. (This is one reason they are seen as unfair and excessive, no flexibility or consideration is possible.)

    We may not realize how much cultural norms influence justice, because it’s so common: A man that murders another man for sleeping with his wife is likely to get a much lighter sentence if he walked in on them screwing and flipped out- in some states its even called “passion provocation” (I think). But, if he calmly waited for the man to get home, followed him, then broke in and shot him, he would get life/death penalty.

    Either way someone was murdered, but we DO treat the crimes differently. Why? As a culture, we believe that monogamy in marriage is important, and so sacred that seeing it violated provokes justified rage. Most people sympathize with the cuckolded husband, and feel his violence is understandable, even if it’s not excusable.

    Another example are parents that kill children by denying medical treatment for religious reasons. We all know how the most recent case turned out… Now imagine instead, a heroin addicted parent that blacked out, and while incapacitated, her kid fell down the stairs and died. I think we all know who would get the harshest punishment, even though both were accidents resulting from reckless, negligent behavior. Again, society values religious belief, and prosecutes accordingly.

    Even though they seem different, “hate crime statutes” simply assign different punishments to the same crime, based on a defined specific intent- just like the above examples. As a society, we have decided that crimes caused over sexuality/race/religion should be treated more severely, for many different reasons. This is an example of cultural norms influencing justice for what is considered the greater good.

    Not everyone agrees that this is the right way to protect certain people, or promote certain standards, and there are other practical objections. These laws also tend to create an uproar when part of society opposes the protection of what they consider an “abhorrent” practice/class of person (homosexuality/gays). They are really upset because we are not only no longer supporting their xtian, biblical beliefs, but are taking a firm, legal, stand against them.

    Staceyjw

  • Mike

    David: Next time someone burns a cross on a black man’s front lawn I would like for you to explain to him why we should only be able to prosecute the people who did it on arson charges and trespassing.

    When I read comments like this, I want to put a gun to my head and pull the trigger. He should only be brought up on arson/trespassing charges because THOSE ARE THE ONLY CRIMES HE COMMITTED. Or are you suggesting that we should charge him with thought crime? Because that’s EXACTLY what hate crime legislation is. Why are certain groups of people given special priveleges and protection under the law? Doesn’t common sense dictate that all people should be equally protected under the law? Hate crime legislation is bull***t and will eventually lead to precrime. Wake up America…

  • Q-Squared

    I’m on the fence for this issue. I can see why prosecuting a thought crime is ridiculous, but, as a gay person, I can see why it might be good.

    I’m obviously biased on this issue, so I can’t really contribute anything.

    Sorry! :/

  • Eric

    No, we need the protections. Why? Because there are many states me and my transsexual girlfriend can’t visit because not only will the populous discriminate against her, the government itself will as well.

    I’m glad our state already has protections, even for the simple reason she can use a public restroom without fear of legal trouble.

    I mean, when a minority has to compile a list of safe BATHROOMS, there is a problem that needs to be addressed.
    http://www.mntranshealth.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12&Itemid=26

  • Staceyjw

    We ALREADY punish “thought” crime, when it proceeds a criminal act- you just don’t recognize it as such.

    Pre-meditation, Intent, and Motive are all THOUGHTS, nothing more. And its the thought that proceeds a criminal act that defines what crime will be charged/convicted/punished. This is why the criminals “state of mind” before, during, and after a crime is so important! *If we convicted by actions alone, none of their thoughts would matter one bit.*

    I just don’t get why it so awful to extend protection to a few groups that have born the brunt of this countries ignorance- while making it clear to the rest of society that we will not tolerate the specified behavior (ie:gay bashing).

    But we easily understand, and think its acceptable to charge someone that shoots their partner with either 1st or 2nd degree murder depending on whether they thought about it before they did it!

    I think this legislation is only controversial because it tries to offer protection to people that participate in behavior religious people “morally” object too. No one would bother to think about it otherwise, it wouldn’t even make the news!

    Staceyjw

  • We should take away the religious bigots right to hate speech, but we won’t, we just can’t let them practice what they preach.

  • Eric

    Oh yes, and here’s a perfect reason for the need for hate crime laws. Kill a faggot, spend 6 months in jail. Pitiful.
    http://www.gazette.net/stories/10142009/prinnew144927_32561.shtml

  • keddaw

    Sorry Eric, I can’t see anything in this that is wrong. Someone violated the guy’s personal space, he lashed out and got done for assault.

    Would you be crying out for a hate crime if the other guy had been a robber and he’d lashed out?

    The tragic, unintended result of the guy falling and hitting his head and dying makes the punishment seem light, but death was not the intention from what I read into it.

    This is a perfect example of trying to treat the perpetrator differently based on the victim. The only situations we allow that are when the victim is part of a group that are vulnerable: the mentally disabled and children being the most obvious. Are you saying that blacks, gays, Jews etc. should all come under the heading ‘vulnerable’? Have special protection under law as they are incapable of self-determination?

  • Rostrum Camera

    I fully support their stance in getting on the pulpit. It will certainly enhance their reputation as ranting madmen (and women) with no real purpose or connection to a 21st century society.

    However, I’m not really convinced that a liberal pastor would even consider going to mount the pulpit in a particular church at particular time and preach a series of vile, hateful sermons would be an intelligent or good idea. Or does the religous use of liberal conflict with mine?

  • Arguments in favour of Federal Hate Crimes legislation covering sexual orientation and gender identity to the same level as existing legislation covers religion:

    FBI figures, 2007:
    Number of Hate crimes based on religion: 1,477. No deaths
    Number based on sexual orientation: 1,460. 5 deaths.

    Current laws do not permit the FBI to count crimes based on Gender Identity. The best figures we have are consistent with the FBI figures. They show 1,460 crimes based on sexual orientation (5 deaths), 870 based on gender identity (16 deaths).

    Crimes against transgendered people tend to be at the more extreme end – hours-long torture/rape sessions rather than a single punch, for example.

    Law enforcement and police accounted for 8% of the 2550 total offenders for 2007, the 4th largest offender category. As was the case in the Deep South before Hate Crime legislation was passed covering racial hatred, often it is the police who are the perpetrators, so there is no local legal recourse, regardless of what state law might say.

    Source : National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs

    Example : The beating (captured on video) of a Trans woman at a Memphis police station. She was later found shot before being able to give evidence against the police who beat her up. The Memphis police are mystified as to who could possibly have a motive.

    The clear-up rate for homicides in the USA is about 70%. Except when the victim is transgendered, then it’s 30%.

    Those figures strongly suggest that existing laws are not being enforced. It is especially unfortunate that the FBI is not permitted to gather statistics about crimes against trans people, so we could be more certain of the extent of the problem.

  • Eric

    Nice to see that even among atheists that gay panic defense works (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay_panic). How sad.

    Not to mention that nobody has brought up the issue where a minority has to live in fear of going into the wrong RESTROOM. At least laws like these give somebody transgendered legal ground. You know, instead of instantly being labeled a pervert for simply existing.

  • llewelly

    keddaw Says:
    October 18th, 2009 at 4:11 am :

    Sorry Eric, I can’t see anything in this that is wrong. Someone violated the guy’s personal space, he lashed out and got done for assault.

    The target of the assault died. In order to agree with the charge of assault, rather than manslaughter, you must agree that that someone who kills with the intent to kill is a worse criminal than one who kills by accident. Since intent is only a thought, you are therefore a proponent of thoughtcrime legislation. And a freedom hater.

  • keddaw

    @llewelly
    And you’re a consequentionalist.

    Yes, intent is important. If I see a bunch of kids run in front of my car, swerve and kill some poor guy on the sidewalk that is a terrible tragedy, but what crime should I be punished with? However, if I see someone I don’t like and drive onto the sidewalk and kill them what crime is that? The outcome is identical but the intent could not be more different. Likewise, the punishments could not be more different.

    @Eric
    I assume the gay panic thing was meant for me. I feel sad that you live in a society where going to the bathroom can be considered a dangerous activity for some people. It is not my intent to defend assault of any kind, simply to point out that legislation exists to protect people as people and as soon as we go about giving groups rights that other groups don’t we forever mark them as different and vulnerable when they shouldn’t be.
    Harsher sentencing for some CRIMES may be the answer, not some spurious invention of a new crime. Once laws exist they are notoriously difficult to remove.

  • llewelly

    Now imagine keddaw’s words changed in this way:

    Yes, intent is important. If I see a bunch of kids run in front of my car, swerve and kill some poor guy on the sidewalk [someone I don’t like and drive onto the sidewalk and kill them] that is a terrible tragedy, but what crime should I be punished with? However, if I see someone I don’t like [because they are gay,] and drive onto the sidewalk and kill them what crime is that? The outcome is identical but the intent could not be more different. Likewise, the punishments could not be more different.

    Why is legislation that punishes deliberate death more than accidental death okay, and legislation that punishes killing due to hate of an entire group more than killing for other reasons not okay? In both cases, the difference comes down to thoughts in a person’s head. As far as I can see, these things are two sides of the same coin.

  • Eric

    Keddaw, the legislation that currently exists is FAILING. I am not content to stick with a broken system simply because it is already there.

  • Polly

    In order to agree with the charge of assault, rather than manslaughter, you must agree that that someone who kills with the intent to kill is a worse criminal than one who kills by accident.

    Or, you could take the logical view that someone who kills with intent is much more likely to kill again. Moreover, punishing the intent to kill serves as a deterrent, whereas punishing an accident doesn’t.

    The difference between intent to commit a crime and intent to commit a crime for a specific reason is a useless distinction from the POV of maintaining order.