Feb 17, 2006

"The clear signs of a hate crime" [LINK]


In offering an example of what constitutes a hate crime, Norbett Mintz instead demonstrates why such laws are so troubling.

A Hypothetical gay man who is mugged by a gang and left bleeding is a victim of a conventional crime, but if he is beaten and set on fire, but not robbed, he is considered the victim of a hate crime. The perpetrators in both his examples are mute, so we must guess their motives. For all we know, the first set were homophobes, and the second set were on a random rampage. Are we to gauge the hatefulness based on their actions, or based on how it made members of a certain group feel? Would a crime against a gay black man call for two separate counts?

We also have little reason to believe such laws would be applied consistently according to any standard of justice. For example, in two of the roughly half-dozen times I've ever been attacked by African Americans, I was pointedly called a "white boy" or some similar epithet. Was I the victim of a hate crime? Were the perpetrators trying to terrorize me or my perceived racial group? Appeals to such group grievances makes for lousy politics, and even worse law.

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