Tuesday, June 29, 2010

hate crimes--punishment based on motives?

I've been thinking about it lately... is it fair to punish so-called "hate crimes" more harshly than "regular" crimes? Who decides when it becomes a hateful crime? Is it less wrong to commit a crime with non-hateful intentions? Are "hate crimes" mere political jargon? If so, then why and to what end?

Now you be the judge. Which crime is worse?

Burning a church because the pastor offended you or burning a church because they are Christians?
Assaulting a man because he did not return the money you loaned him or assaulting a man because he is gay?
Slashing someone's tires because she is dating your ex or slashing someone's tires because she is black?
Shooting a child because she was in the way of your drive-by or shooting a child because she is Muslim?

And who determines what is hateful? Is it hateful to believe that homosexuality is wrong? When does hating become a crime in itself? Where do you draw the lines? Is putting a Koran in a toilet a hate crime? It has been charged as one. Is putting a Bible or the Book of Mormon or the Talmud in a toilet a hate crime? Is a crucifix in a jar of urine a hate crime? No, Piss Christ is a "work of art." 

So who determines what is a hate crime? What do you think?


Raine said...

I think the deal with hate crimes is the probability that that person will commit that crime again. Odds are slashing the girlfriends tires cause she cheated is a crime of passion, per se. But if it dome because she is black, then that is a deep rooted hatred that most likely will still be there even after the tire is fixed. I don't know if the punishment should be different, but I do think it is important to distinguish between the two.0

gorrión said...

hmmmm... I see your point, although I'm not sure it should affect the sentencing. The biggest problem that I see is when the crime itself is not determined by the action, but by the motive. Putting a copy of Moby Dick in a toilet would be rude and disgusting but not a crime. But putting a copy of the Koran is a crime... That's when it all turns gray, and there is too much room for opinion.

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