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Motive is already an aspect of litigating crimes, but I don't believe expanding that can do much good and it invites abuse over time... because somebody will have to decide what constitutes "hate."
As for this particular law, don't know much about it, but I've never yet met a hate crimes bill I thought was well advised.
I am no fan of this law. But I would like jack's perspective on this. Are you out there?
Almost certain to become law in some form - the House version passed and the Senate version (currently in Judiciary) has 45 co-sponsors. I didn't look at the versions in detail, but it would seem likely to me that they could hammer out any differences in conference.
Two major components are the federal commitment to assist states in the prosecution of hate crimes and the creation of a limited set of hate crimes as federal offenses. The carve out regarding free speech is important and, I think, should provide some comfort to those who think hate crime legislation tends toward suppression of the ability to preach the Gospel or speak clearly to sin. I'm not sure it's credible to say that our freedoms are being threatened when the legislation in question is limited to existing serious crimes.
I'm not a huge fan of hate crimes legislation, but agree with the poster upthread that motive is already considered in many cases.
http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h1913/text ]full text of hr 1913
Thanks, I hope that you are right.
Marty, IMO, legislating prejudicial things, whether it be this or scholarships, just further compounds racial prejudices. Even beyond that, it itself is prejudice against those it is not seeking to protect or help. Classic example is of my brother in one of his classes in college. They were talking about racial prejudices and he had the nerve to speak up and ask about prejudices against whites. He was quickly shot down by his teacher, called a racist, and told not to speak. At which point he out loud said, you just proved my point. (the ironic part is, we are 50% Mexican...)
I'm sympathetic to your view - I had an uncle murdered when I was young. Why should his murderer receive a more lenient sentence because he was motivated by avarice rather than hate?
But, it seems that the assumption underlying your view is that justice should be strictly retributive. Although our system is intended to be primarily retributive, it is influenced by reform and deterrence-centered theories of justice and punishment. Those approaches are reflected in paractices such as consideration of aggravating/mitigating factors in sentencing guidelines and in parole.
So I don't see hate crime legislation as a special case, but as another example of both our blended approach to criminal justice and of our tradition of using the criminal justice system to accomplish social ends. Of course, it's also worth noting that we benefit from some hate crimes legislation, such as the bill mentioned at the top of this thread, encompass religion as a protected class. While we may not currently feel physically threatened because of our religious beliefs, we have brothers and sisters around the world today who might welcome their governments' acting to deter religious persecution.