Not surprisingly, I have a dissenting opinion.
Most violent crimes are not random acts of violence. Whether it be a beating, or a murder, there is generally some perception of provocation... some
explanation of motive that is predictable to the victim and therefore offers some
chance for the would-be victim to avoid the sights of the criminal. When the motive is hatred of homosexuals, blacks, etc... there is no way for the victim to take precaution... because the acts are largely random.
I think on some level, just as there are degrees of culpability on the aggressors part, so too are there degrees of innocence... so to speak ( I've worded that terribly, but try and understand the intent.) He who gets picked at random, just because he likes dudes, doesn't really have a chance to avoid the confrontation.= more
innocent than the guy who hits on every chick in a seedy bar.
On the other side of the crime; he who is depraved enough to attack a total stranger based on nothing more than ignorant hate betrays a level of depravity that is further up the sliding scale than he who at least feels he's been provoked.
So in essence; I think a hate crime tends to have a more innocent victim AND a more dangerous perpetrator… and I find both of those good reasons for punishment enhancements.
(Needless to say: If the gayness or blackness is incidental to the crime, than obviously I don’t think the statutes should apply.)