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Senate attaches hate crimes measure to Iraq spending bill

 
 
kickycan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 29 Sep, 2007 11:35 am
ebrown_p wrote:
We don't seem to have agreement on the most basic point...

It seems obvious to me that different acts of crime have different severities depending on the intent and the motivation. I have given several examples. Someone who beats up a drunk in a bar doesn't get the same punishment as someone who beats an old lady. Most people understand this.

We even have different types of murder-- for example murder 1 and murder 2 with different penalties.


I didn't mean to say that all crimes should be punished the exact same way. I worded that badly. Halfback said it much better than I did. This part of his/her post I think addresses what you're saying above.

Halfback wrote:
To argue the relative severity or heniousness of a given crime (i.e. some assaults are worse than others, some murders are worse than others) is already within the Court system and is represented therein by the range of sentences the Judge can pass on the convicted felon.

The judge can, for instance, mete out a stiffer penalty to a vandal who desicrates a mosque than one who merely desicrates a building wall, both cases under the vandalism laws already existant.


I'm not saying crimes commited out of hatred for a group based on religion or sex or race shouldn't be punished more severely. I'm saying they already are.
0 Replies
 
Halfback
 
  1  
Reply Sat 29 Sep, 2007 10:24 pm
I can see ebrown_p's point that some crimes can cross the line into terrorism. Particularly is it pertains to intimidation of a population, or part of a population.

Revel points out that if a Black Man attacks a White Man, depending on motivation, that, too, could be construed to be a hate crime.

It has been pointed out that these laws are enacted to protect "gays and minorities" from evil acts by other.... what? Non-gays and non-minorities? Ok. Let's make the "hate laws" pertain to minorities, gays, Jews, etc. and all the packets of population who feel they need added protection under the law.

At what point in this "Sorting", then, does it become apparent that whatever portion of the population denied inclusion in the group of "those needing added protection under the law" become, in and of itself, a "minority" as compared to those numbered in the inclusion groups?

Since Revel pointed out that a hate crime can be committed to and against virtually everyone and anyone and we have "Sorted" ourselves into packets of population. Do not ALL the segments of the population need protection under "hate laws"? (Aha, equal protection under the law!)

If all segments of the population can claim protection under "hate laws", I submit that, alone, makes the concept of "hate laws" moot.

For the sake of arguement, however, we will concede that "hate laws" are enacted. On the surface, they placate those segments of the population who feel the need for additional protection under the law. Since we have shown that virtually everyone can claim that they need protection from "hate crimes", we have come to the point where we can say the only segment of the population not protected are perpetrators of hate crimes. Now if that isn't a full circle, I don't know what is. Unless, of course, one or some of you suggest that ALL the perpetrators of hate crimes are inclusive of one specific segment of the population........ at which point I can claim that those laws descriminate. (Back to equal protection under the law.)

Lastly, let's assume that the "hate laws" are enacted and we have somehow settled all the points pertaining to equal protection under the law, potential descrimination, etc.

At what point do we charge (or try) a person for, say, Aggravated Assault, Hate Crime, under our "hate laws" a more grevious offence than simple Aggravated Assault? Does the DA decide that? (Remember, above we seemed to indicate that "hate crimes" depend on motivation.) Unless the defendant confesses to hate motivation (and any defence attorney that suggests that to his client.....) it is left to the jury to decide and the lawyers to make the pleadings for either side. (Do you see where this is going?)

Unless the jury has a number of mind readers who can delve into the alleged felon's mind and ascertain motivation.... I suggest that facts indicating that a crime was committed are very provable, but motivation is not so apparent. In fact, I submit that prosecuting a crime with the "hate crime" caveat attached will be difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

So where, then, do we have the capability to punish offenders who, on the face of it, have appeared to have committed a crime motivated by hate? The judges have that capability, based on the merits of the case, to sentence according to "extenuating circumstances" either positive or negative. They have that power already! Again, "hate laws" are moot.

I further submit that attaching the feel good "hate crime" caveat to a given crime does nothing to further the course of justice! Equal justice under the law. Not special protection under the law. If we violate that principle, even a little, even if it "sounds good or worthy", we begin to tear at the fabric that binds out country together, The Constitution!

Halfback
0 Replies
 
revel
 
  1  
Reply Sun 30 Sep, 2007 06:23 am
Halfback; you make this much more complicated than it really is. If a person attacks a person merely because they hate all gays then it is a hate crime of a specific group rather than a circumstance creating the crime. For instance if a person attacks a person because of an argument then that is aggravated assault. But if that same person attacked that same person only because the person was gay and they just hate all gays then the crime is a hate crime. If they were in argument first it still would be a hate crime if the argument was merely because that person was gay. Say he/she was calling that person a faggot or something first and then attacked the gay person it is still a hate crime. But if the argument was over money owed or something and a gay person was attacked; then it is not a hate crime. All of it has to be worked out and argued about in a court of law with evidence to be determined if in fact it was a hate crime or just a regular crime.

The reason hate laws are enacted are because we want to stop the hate and prejudice of people from spilling over into violence directed specific groups of people. It is a good law.
0 Replies
 
Halfback
 
  1  
Reply Sun 30 Sep, 2007 12:13 pm
Which brings us right back to my original contention, that there already exist laws that protect, not only those segments of the population who feel they need additional protection, but ALL of the population. The judge has the leeway to decide the penalty dependent on circumstances disclosed (and pleaded) during the trial.

Apparently this is not enough. We strive for equality under the law. The Constitution requires that. The inferrence derived, then, is that some segments of the population perceive the need for more than equal protection under the law. By definition, if one quantity is more than another quantity of the same thing, the two parts are unequal, creating the effect of UNequal protection under the law. (My point of original contention.)

I further contended that the relative merits of a given case "hate" or otherwise, to be argued during the trail, as you say, can determine the relative seriousness of the case. These adjuncts, plus the capacity of the judge to sentence accordingly, constitute legal remedy for the victim and proper punishment for the offender. These proceedures already exit.

Tacking a descriptive adjective to a crime in the effort to make seem more henious, seems a bit silly, but probably makes better headlines. "Man charged with 1st degree murder" vs "Man charged with HATE murder" It's still 1st degree murder, with the attendant punishments, no matter how you slice it. Kinda like "Man charged with murder of child", "Man charged with murder of elderly lady". "A rose by any other name is still a rose".

Anyway, I was somewhat taken aback by your comment that "hate laws" are intended to prevent hate and prejudice from spilling over into criminal activities against "protected groups". While on the surface, that smacks of an attempt at "mind control", I can see where you are coming from. It all depends on the motivation of the malcreant. Motivations come in many assorted styles: Hate and prejudice are but two. Our laws are designed to control actions/results of perpetrators no matter the motivation and no matter who the victim. Further hair splitting rather than adherance to the concept of "equal treatment under the law" seems redundant and further obfuscates our efforts at swift justice.

I go back to my original contention that designated "hate laws" are basically "feel good" laws, redundant on top of laws existant and I still feel that the Supremes will strike the concept down one of these days as they violate equal protection principles.

Aside from that, I merely presented my case, tried to develop the logic thereof and put it out for discussion. Not that I beleived I would convert anyone.... just to show where I was coming from.

Halfback
0 Replies
 
revel
 
  1  
Reply Sun 30 Sep, 2007 01:36 pm
Halfback wrote:
Quote:
I go back to my original contention that designated "hate laws" are basically "feel good" laws, redundant on top of laws existant and I still feel that the Supremes will strike the concept down one of these days as they violate equal protection principles.

Aside from that, I merely presented my case, tried to develop the logic thereof and put it out for discussion. Not that I beleived I would convert anyone.... just to show where I was coming from.




I disagree that hate crimes violate equal protection principles for the simple reason that everyone fits in some group. In other words; it is not a law just for minorities or gays.

Quote:

hate crime
In law, a crime directed at a person or persons on the basis of characteristics such as race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.


An example of how anyone can fit into a "group."

Quote:

In 1993 the Supreme Court revisited hate-crime legislation and unanimously adopted a coherent approach. In State v. Mitchell, 508 U.S. 476, 113 S. Ct. 2194, 124 L. Ed. 2d 436 (1993), Todd Mitchell, a young black man from Kenosha, Wisconsin, was convicted of aggravated battery and received an increased sentence under the Wisconsin hate-crime statute. The incident at issue began with Mitchell asking some friends, "Do you all feel hyped up to move on some white people?" Shortly thereafter Mitchell spotted Gregory Reddick, a fourteen-year-old white male, walking on the other side of the street. Mitchell then said to the group, "You all want to **** somebody up? There goes a white boy; go get him." The group attacked Reddick. Reddick suffered extensive injuries, including brain damage, and was comatose for four days.

Mitchell appealed his conviction to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which held that the hate-crime statute violated the First Amendment. The state of Wisconsin appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which reversed the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The High Court ruled that the Wisconsin statute was constitutional because it was directed at conduct, not expression. The Court distinguished the R.A.V. case by explaining that the St. Paul ordinance was impermissibly aimed at expression. The primary purpose of the St. Paul ordinance was to punish specifically the placement of certain symbols on property. This violated the rule against content-based speech legislation. The Wisconsin law, by contrast, merely allowed increased sentences based on motivation, always a legitimate consideration in determining a criminal sentence.


source

In other words it is constitutionally permissible to yell out obscenities and bigoted words; but when you incite violence then it transcends into a hate crime.

Like you I am not looking to convert anyone but merely stating where I am coming from as well.
0 Replies
 
revel
 
  1  
Reply Sun 30 Sep, 2007 01:41 pm
EBrown, your right; the more I look into this and read from links; terrorism and hate crime do seem similar.
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Halfback
 
  1  
Reply Sun 30 Sep, 2007 08:45 pm
So, the test cases have come and gone, apparently. Wasn't aware of that. Thanks for refs. I had only been recently introduced to the concept of hate crimes and they gave me some bother, for most of the reasoning I have expounded on at length.

In Supreme Court review, then, the instance(s) where the law "....merely allowed increased sentences based on motivation." with the conceptual inclusion of everyone, not just selected groups.

I can buy into that, and note that perhaps the term "hate laws" are a somewhat hyped up misnomer for increased sentencing based on motivational aspects of the crime.

How, then, does the system control for misuse of the "power"? Do DA's try to push for "hate crime" convictions over and above regular convictions to make their resume' look good. (ala Duke LaCross Player's Case?) Which brings me back to "pandering to the voters", indicated in my earlier posts.

I can see where additional sentencing power can be useful, for certain crimes. (How many life sentences can be dished out for murder? Hate or otherwise?) I can also see where it can give a "warm and fuzzy" feeling to the "We need further protection under the law group".

I don't see, however, as one poster noted, how it could make him/her feel safer as the use of these "laws" are totally ex post facto to the crime. Personally, I feel safer when something is done that prevents a crime from being committed or reduces the potential thereof. But maybe that's just me.

However, you have convinced me. I am always in favor of putting societal deviates away from the general population for as long as possible. LOL!

Halfback
0 Replies
 
revel
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Oct, 2007 08:21 am
Halfback

I understand what you are saying when you talk about the potential for abuse in these cases. Because it is almost subjective in nature it would be easy to get caught up in hoopla rather than just witnesses and facts proving a crime was motivated by hate.

Like you I have only recently started to look into this; as a matter just with this thread.
0 Replies
 
Halfback
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Oct, 2007 11:29 am
Revel: Perhaps we should form an "oversight" committee to insure that "hate laws" are not abused. Laughing

Halfback

P.S. Mutually derived "solutions" as a result of negotiation, reasoned thinking and compromise are infinately more preferable to conflict (verbal or otherwise).
0 Replies
 
 

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