Hate Crime?
June 20, 2007 10:45 AM   Subscribe

Return to Crothersville: Aaron Hall probably wasn't gay, but his murder in April has become an argument for passage of the Matthew Shepard Act, which would add attacks based on a victim's perceived sexual orientation to the list of federal hate crimes. The men accused of Aaron's murder are invoking the "gay panic" defense. A citizen journalist at the Bloomington Alternative has published a fascinating article on her investigation of the circumstances of the crime and of Aaron's life, and why uncovering the truth in a place like Crothersville, where the social network is so tight-knit and there's no local hate crimes law, requires an outside (federal) investigation.
posted by thirteenkiller (165 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Crothersville previously on Metafilter: [1] [2]
posted by thirteenkiller at 10:47 AM on June 20, 2007


What is the legal/constitutional basis for federal jurisdiction over "hate crimes?"
posted by The World Famous at 10:52 AM on June 20, 2007


Obviously these guys have excellent gaydar.
posted by GuyZero at 10:57 AM on June 20, 2007


Gay Panic Defense meet my friend Black Rage Defense. I'm sure you two will get along just swell.
posted by tkchrist at 11:01 AM on June 20, 2007


I just robbed a bank and one of those tellers talked with a lisp. Am I eligible for gay panic defense?
posted by DU at 11:06 AM on June 20, 2007


Great band name: The Gay Panic

or, alternatively, The Gay Panic Defense

on preview: Black Rage Defense is pretty good, too...
posted by LordSludge at 11:06 AM on June 20, 2007


.
posted by hermitosis at 11:13 AM on June 20, 2007


Take Action against Hate Crimes -- produced by Cyndi Lauper's True Colors Tour.
posted by ericb at 11:17 AM on June 20, 2007


The hate crimes legislation has passed the House of Representatives. The bill now goes to the U.S. Senate. Tell your Senators to support the Matthew Shepard Act.
"There are many reasons why this needs to pass the Senate. First of all, one in six hate crimes is motivated by the victim's sexual orientation or gender identity. Secondly, the job of the U.S. government, first and foremost, is to protect all Americans, whether they're black, Christian, disabled or gay. Finally, this legislation has been endorsed by more than 230 civic, religious and law-enforcement organizations. According to a recent Gallup poll, 68 percent of Americans - cutting across race, religion and ideology - favor strengthening laws to give local police and sheriff's departments the tools and resources they need to prevent and prosecute heinous acts of prejudice."*
posted by ericb at 11:25 AM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


JUDGE: I'd like to see counsels in side bar please.

PROSECUTOR: Are you seriously offering us that your client is innocent of a shooting rampage that claimed the lives of sixteen innocent office workers when we have over nine eye witnesses, video tape of the actual event, AND the defendants own sworn and written confession on the day in question?

DEFENSE: These were not not innocent office workers, your honor. These were Qwest employees on lunch break. When my client learned of their identity he flew into an uncontrollable rage and was rendered temporarily insane from the cumulative years of frustration and abuse heaped on him, and many other law abiding people I might add, by the employees of this com...

PROSECUTOR: YOU HONOR! This is outrage...

JUDGE: QWEST? The phone company? Hmmmm... thirty years of cumulative tortuous abuse on an entire society of people... yes. I'll allow it.

DEFENSE: Then I say we move for an acquittal.



Thus the "Fucking Qwest Defense" was born.
posted by tkchrist at 11:26 AM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


ericb, that doesn't explain why the Feds should have jurisdiction over hate crimes, or what the constitutional basis for that jurisdiction would be.

Why should I tell my senator to participate in a federal law enforcement powergrab?
posted by The World Famous at 11:27 AM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


"'Gay Panic' Defense under Scrutiny at Conference" (San Francisco Chronicle, 19 July 2006):

Prosecutors and legal experts define gay or transgender panic as when a person is provoked to violent action against another person after learning the other person's sexual orientation or gender identity. Such provocation is used as an argument for justification of the action or for lessening the punishment for the action.

"The standard for these kinds of cases has been 'Would a reasonable person react that way?' " said Angela Harris, a professor of law at Boalt Hall School of Law at UC Berkeley who will speak at the conference. "Our culture being a very sexist and homophobic culture has said 'yes,' but now I think people are starting to say that's not where our culture is anymore."


Well, maybe not in Berkeley.
posted by blucevalo at 11:30 AM on June 20, 2007


Report Shows Gay Hate Crimes as Common as Other Types
"A new report on bias crimes indicates that hate crimes directed at GLBT people are as prevalent as hate crimes directed against other minorities.

The report, released to by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, is titled "Comparison of Hate Crime Rates Across Protected and Unprotected Groups [PDF]." On average, the report shows, 13 out of 100,000 GLBT individuals report being the victim of a bias-motivated crime. For African Americans, the rate is eight out of 100,000; for Muslim Americans, 12 out of 100,000; and for Jewish Americans, 15 out of 100,000.

'Often people try to pass off [the absence of federal hate crimes laws pertinent to the GLBT community] as... not as big a problem as race-based hate crimes,' Rebecca Stotzer, a research fellow at the Williams Institute, said...

...'This report’s findings provide a new perspective that should inform policy makers who are deciding whether to include hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity in federal hate-crime laws,' said Williams Institute research director M.V. Lee Badgett.

'The numbers show that hate crimes remain a serious problem for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities,' added Badgett.

If passed, the Matthew Shepard Act would provide federal hate-crimes protections to the GLBT community. The House of Representatives has already passed an identical bill.

Under current law, only crimes committed on the basis of race, color, religion, and national origin are covered by bias crime provisions. Crimes committed on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and disability are not covered under current federal legislation."
posted by ericb at 11:30 AM on June 20, 2007


In general, World Famous, it's the notion that the hate crime, by virtue of those special circumstances, necessarily involves a violation of the victim's civil rights under the constitution. But even more generally, the whole idea of "the federal government has no jurisdiction," has been so eroded as to be meaningless. If nothing else, by killing him, they've effected his ability to engage in interstate commerce - and that clause is routinely interpreted far more torturously.
posted by tyllwin at 11:31 AM on June 20, 2007


ericb, that doesn't explain why the Feds should have jurisdiction over hate crimes, or what the constitutional basis for that jurisdiction would be. Why should I tell my senator to participate in a federal law enforcement powergrab?

They already do. In our democracy the federal government steps-in often to protect the rights of minorities when local and state governments aren't doing so. [e.g. U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, H.U.D. Housing Discrimination Complaints, etc.)

Federal legislation already exists for hate crimes "committed on the basis of race, color, religion, and national origin are covered by bias crime provisions."

A majority of Americans (68%) believe that this Federal protection should be extended to include sexual orientation, gender identity, etc.
posted by ericb at 11:37 AM on June 20, 2007


I'm with the many who like motivation-based sentencing, but wish that state governments would function rather than send this to federal courts.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 11:39 AM on June 20, 2007


A lot of the links seem to be making a more persuasive case for clearly denouncing and invalidating the gay panic defense than for enacting hate crimes legislation.

For the record, I'm very much against the idea of hate crime legislation on principle, but so long as these laws exist, it is unconscionable that they do not include sexual orientation or gender identity.
posted by SBMike at 11:41 AM on June 20, 2007


I'm with the many who like motivation-based sentencing

This particular case was murder by torture -- in many jurisdictions it would already be eligible for the death penalty. Is that not sufficient?
posted by tyllwin at 11:44 AM on June 20, 2007


"Christian right leader and founder of Focus on the Family Dr. James Dobson said, 'The Hate Crimes Act will be the first step to criminalize our rights as Christians to believe that some behaviors are sinful. Pastors preaching from Scripture on homosexuality could be threatened with persecution and prosecution.'"*

Uh, that'd only be so in a situation wherein lightning and flames spew forth from your piehole as you rant, thus smiting me into nothing more than a pile of burning ash at the foot of your altar.
posted by ericb at 11:47 AM on June 20, 2007


wish that state governments would function rather than send this to federal courts.

It seems to be that the states that need this the most are the ones that will never approve or honor it unless compelled to.

If I lived in an area where I could easily find myself left for dead based on the presumption that I was gay, I'd probably wish that my attackers knew that they wouldn't be able to hide behind the quiet approval of their local "moral" standards if they chose to act on it.
posted by hermitosis at 11:54 AM on June 20, 2007


Why should killing someone for their sexual orientation be punished differently than killing them for the look in their eye, their mode of dress, something they said, an amount of money, sheer whimsy, etc etc? Murder is murder. Some murders are not worse than others.
posted by xmutex at 11:55 AM on June 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


But even more generally, the whole idea of "the federal government has no jurisdiction," has been so eroded as to be meaningless. If nothing else, by killing him, they've effected his ability to engage in interstate commerce - and that clause is routinely interpreted far more torturously.

Wrong!
posted by raysmj at 11:57 AM on June 20, 2007


Perhaps some would say that some lives are less worth living than others.
posted by nervousfritz at 11:57 AM on June 20, 2007


Killed a man in Reno just to watch him die? Not so bad. State crime.
posted by The World Famous at 11:59 AM on June 20, 2007


xmutex: "Murder is murder. Some murders are not worse than others."

O RLY?

Okay, okay, that was kind of a lame argument, I know. In other news, is it just me, or is metafilter getting gayer?
posted by Zephyrial at 12:04 PM on June 20, 2007


I think the argument for having a federal hate crimes statute apply in this case is not that Aaron Hall's killers deserve extra awful punishment if they were motivated by his (perceived) sexual orientation, but rather that the local authorities might not have the resources or will to conduct a comprehensive investigation.
posted by thirteenkiller at 12:05 PM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


The only time I think hate crimes legislation should be applied are when defendants, all of their own accord, try to apply the pms/twinkie/gay panic/black rage/chewbacca defense to try and weasel out of their confessed crimes.
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:06 PM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


A narrow decision raysmj -- one that's arguable even with a neutrally-crafted hate crimes law ("his life and work and economic activity have an impact on commerce that the simple possession of a firearm in Lopez did not") and one easily worked around in legislation.

But don't mistake me for a supporter of over-broad interpretation of that clause. I'm not. I merely recognize the sad reality that it's a rare law which gets stricken because of a lack of federal jurisdiction. I do admit, however, that if I was going to start dismantling laws on that basis, a hate crimes would not not be first on my list.
posted by tyllwin at 12:10 PM on June 20, 2007


thirteenkiller, if the local authorities don't have the will or resources to conduct a comprehensive investigation, how and who decides, and based on what investigation, that the crime was definitely a hate crime?

At what point to the feds take over the show? At trial when, for the first time, a defendant testifies and on the stand invokes the gay panic defense as an appeal to the jury? At the sentencing stage, when the defendant for the first time invokes that "defense" in order to sway a bigoted jury away from the death penalty? Do the feds swoop in at that moment and retry the whole thing? And what magical jury pool do the feds draw from that would result in a different outcome?
posted by The World Famous at 12:10 PM on June 20, 2007


A few points to note:

1. Indiana is one of only 5 states without ANY hate crimes legislation. Many/most states that DO have hate crimes legislation do NOT include GLBT/gender identity in the list of protected groups.

2. At the federal level, hate crimes legislation already exists. It provides investigatory assistance and increased sentencing for hate crimes against racial minorities, religious minorities, and those motivated by national origin. It does NOT currently include sexual orientation, gender or gender identity.


3. Until Indiana joins the majority of states in the U.S., the ONLY recourse available to our residents is the Local Law
Enforcement Enhancement Act (referenced in 2, above)


3. S1105 is currently under consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee. If passed (and signed by Bush, which -- of course -- he's already said he'll veto), S1105 will simply add GLBT/gender identity to the list of minority identities already covered by federal hate crimes legislation.

4. Aaron Hall's sexual preference is actually immaterial in this discussion. It was the defendants who opened the door to the hate crime issue -- they are the ones who claimed they beat Aaron to death because of a "gay advance."

5. Aaron Hall's murder is *exactly* why we need S1105 to pass. Because one of the defendants is the son of the deputy prosecutor in Crothersville, and is also a part of law enforcement, the sentiment in town (and among the family) is that there is NO WAY there will be a fair trial for Aaron's murder.

6. **IF** S1105 was already in place, Aaron's family could have appealed to the federal government for assistance in the investigation. There could have been a more unbiased investigation.

7. Human Rights Campaign has an excellent fact sheet about LLEHCPA here. (PDF)
posted by CitizenD at 12:12 PM on June 20, 2007


At what point to the feds take over the show?

Ideally, they do not, and the presence of the feds as a watchdog which can take it over serves to make the actual act unnecessary, by motivating the local authorities to do their job.

Less ideally, they take it over at the point where a US attorney decides that it in his or her professional judgment it is warranted. (Hard to say that line with a straight face under the current administration, but I'll try)
posted by tyllwin at 12:16 PM on June 20, 2007


I have long disagreed with the idea of hate crimes. If it's bad enough to warrant sentencing, then apply an appropriate punishment across the board.

If I murder you for your money should I get less time than if I murder you for being gay? Or black?

I appreciate the sentiment, that we should be mindful of the motivations of someone who would capriciously harm another person based on their color or sexual orientation, but I don't know that it's worthwhile to sentence based on it.
posted by quin at 12:17 PM on June 20, 2007


"Why should killing someone for their sexual orientation be punished differently than killing them for the look in their eye, their mode of dress, something they said, an amount of money, sheer whimsy, etc etc? Murder is murder. Some murders are not worse than others."

I completely agree. It doesn't make sense to me that the courts should codify one motivation as being worse than another. Justice punishes criminal acts, not "feelings". I can hate gays and blacks and women and kittens all day every day, god bless America. Especially in extreme cases like murder. Killing someone because you want their car is just as horrific as killing someone because they are gay, in my view.
posted by hatchetjack at 12:19 PM on June 20, 2007


tyllwin: US v. Lopez is generally considered to be a major decision in the area of intergovernmental relations, one of the biggest of the past quarter century. In any case, what interstate commerce was he involved in? Buying a beer in a bar? One of the main issues in Lopez was whether possession of a gun had any concrete tie to Interstate commerce. Buying a beer in a bar doesn't have any such concrete tie. The violation of civil rights is the reason, and quite enough reason, for the federal govt. to get involved here.
posted by raysmj at 12:22 PM on June 20, 2007


Aaron Hall's murder is *exactly* why we need S1105 to pass. Because one of the defendants is the son of the deputy prosecutor in Crothersville, and is also a part of law enforcement, the sentiment in town (and among the family) is that there is NO WAY there will be a fair trial for Aaron's murder.

Are you suggesting that, in Indiana, there is no legal provision for a change of venue or recusal of officials where there is an actual conflict of interest? How would the conflict of interest in the Aaron Hall case caused by a defendant being the sun of the deputy prosecutor be altered if sexual orientation were not part of the case?

Furthermore, what makes you think that federal jurisdiction based on motive would take the trial out of Indiana or make the jury a non-Indiana jury?

At what point to the feds take over the show?

Ideally, they do not, and the presence of the feds as a watchdog which can take it over serves to make the actual act unnecessary, by motivating the local authorities to do their job.


Yeah, at what point do the feds start being present as a watchdog?

Less ideally, they take it over at the point where a US attorney decides that it in his or her professional judgment it is warranted.

So the U.S. attorney's office reviews every step of every investigation and prosecution of every violent crime in every state so that they can jump in when there is some conclusive evidence of race/religion/gender/sexual orientation bias?
posted by The World Famous at 12:22 PM on June 20, 2007


5. Aaron Hall's murder is *exactly* why we need S1105 to pass. Because one of the defendants is the son of the deputy prosecutor in Crothersville, and is also a part of law enforcement, the sentiment in town (and among the family) is that there is NO WAY there will be a fair trial for Aaron's murder.

And again, the issue here seems to be more of a clear-cut conflict of interest than of necessity for hate crime laws. The conflict of interest would still exist if he had killed anybody else. The logical conclusion in any case where there is the appearance of conflict of interest would be to try the defendant in another jurisdiction or a higher court or to bring in oversight for these cases regardless of the circumstances surrounding the crime itself.
posted by SBMike at 12:23 PM on June 20, 2007


or what TWF said. Should've previewed.
posted by SBMike at 12:24 PM on June 20, 2007


It is only possible to have a black-and-white perspective on this tragedy from a distance. When you get close, the provincial becomes intricate. The seemingly obvious becomes hazy. The logical becomes mystifying.

Welcome to reality.
posted by docgonzo at 12:27 PM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'd probably wish that my attackers knew that they wouldn't be able to hide behind the quiet approval of their local "moral" standards if they chose to act on it.

That local governments don't/won't enforce their laws for any number of unacceptable reasons is a more general problem (including nepotism, as you point out), and even in the case of crime against minorities it goes well beyond individual hate. That the federal statues (and hate-crime statutes in general as I understand them) are limited to motivation is telling regarding the theory behind them. With some evidence, I'd think that it was plausible that prosecutors and police were ignoring crime against many minorities regardless of the perpetrator's identity or motivation. I don't, however, think that federalizing crime against a very large portion of the population is a very feasible or equitable solution.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 12:27 PM on June 20, 2007


If I murder you for your money should I get less time than if I murder you for being gay? Or black?

No, but you should not get less time if you muder someone for being gay or black than if you murder someone for money. It's my understanding (IANAL, I may be wrong) that that is principally why we have hate crime legislation. It cements the severity of hate crimes because some places are known to let them slide a bit.
posted by shmegegge at 12:27 PM on June 20, 2007


Killing someone because you want their car is just as horrific as killing someone because they are gay, in my view.

In most states, a charge of "attempted auto theft" would be added to the charge of capital murder there. So there is usually extra punishment in such cases. In many states, the govt. wants to make sure you've committed another crime in the context of a murder--or used explosives or hired a hit man, etc., or committed multiple murders--before sentencing you to death. Much of this has to do with societal ideas about severity of the crime, patterns of criminal activity, etc. And the similarity of rates of hate crimes committed against persons of varying minority groups is such a pattern.
posted by raysmj at 12:31 PM on June 20, 2007


hatchetjack: "Killing someone because you want their car is just as horrific as killing someone because they are gay, in my view."

Really?

So, if Aaron had been killed for his car instead of an alleged gay advance, would Crothersville residents have cause for increased panic?

Definitely not in the way that other *gay* Crothersville residents have cause for great concern.

Hate crimes are different from "other crimes" in that they're not just intended to hurt the victim -- they're intended to intimidate individuals who identify similarly as the victim.

I've talked with four "closeted" gay individuals in Crothersville. They're scared shitless. Two are considering moving from Jackson County altogether.

Besides, all of this is immaterial:

The investigation of Aaron's murder is irretrievably tainted by the fact that one of the defendant's father is a part of the law enforcement agency responsible for the investigation. Hell, Aaron's body was found in the deputy coroner's garage, *10 days later.*

In this instance, don't you think Aaron's family ought to be able to appeal to a higher jurisdiction, in order to pursue justice for his murder?

*That* is the real significance of S1105. The defendants are the ones who opened the door to this murder being labelled a hate crime. The family of the victim needs outside, unbiased assistance in the investigation.

Why should the family be denied the same kinds of rights that families of other hate crimes victims have, just because Aaron was allegedly gay?
posted by CitizenD at 12:32 PM on June 20, 2007


by the way, is it just me or is crothersville a strong candidate for worst town to live in in america?
posted by shmegegge at 12:32 PM on June 20, 2007


A common thread in a lot of those pro-legislation links is the idea that hate-based crimes are more harmful to the community at large than run-of-the-mill crimes. I kind of see where they're coming from with this, but I'm not sure this argument holds much water. Doesn't all violent crime hurt the community at large?

Also, is extra punishment ever really an effective deterrent? People already know they're breaking a law when they commit a violent act, but I don't really think too many people would say to themselves, "beating up this guy is worth 20 years in prison, but not 30." Is there any evidence that these laws actually protect anybody? Not provide extra jail time, but prevent hate crimes from happening to the people these laws are supposed to protect? If I could see some proof, it would probably change my opinion on this issue quite a bit.
posted by SBMike at 12:37 PM on June 20, 2007


Why should killing someone for their sexual orientation be punished differently than killing them for the look in their eye

Because if I kill you because you're gay, I'm doing two things. One, I'm killing one particular gay dude. Two, I'm terrorizing all of the other homosexuals in the area, especially if I make it plain that I'm killing the one particular homosexual because he had the temerity to talk to me, or to be gay near me.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:44 PM on June 20, 2007


Lynching- the archetypical hate crime- completely refutes all this "no murders are worse than other murders" bollocks. Hate crimes aren't just about killing- they're about killing as an act of terror. By lynching black people, whites sent the message that other blacks had better not step out of line, or they'd be lynched, too. Hate crimes are worse because, at the most fundamental level, they are acts of terror against classes of individuals and not just acts of violence against single individuals, as those who oppose hate crime laws would have you think.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:45 PM on June 20, 2007 [4 favorites]


The World Famous:
"Are you suggesting that, in Indiana, there is no legal provision for a change of venue or recusal of officials where there is an actual conflict of interest? How would the conflict of interest in the Aaron Hall case caused by a defendant being the sun of the deputy prosecutor be altered if sexual orientation were not part of the case?

Furthermore, what makes you think that federal jurisdiction based on motive would take the trial out of Indiana or make the jury a non-Indiana jury?"

For the purposes of blogging, I've not gone into all the great detail of this case. Suffice it to say that there is very little faith that the judge involved in this case will allow a change of venue. Recusal? Puh-leeze.

You're operating as if Jackson County, Indiana, is up-with-the-times. It's not. Corruption is rampant at all levels of government. It's a town of 1,500 people, who all know (or are related to) each other. In this environment, the conflict of interest is not *just* the deputy coroner's role.

I'm not a legal scholar, so I'm not exactly sure what the "right" interpretation is, but my understanding of LLEHCPA **if it was already in place** is not that the Feds would have "jurisdiction," per se -- but that they would lend their investigators, resources, etc. to the local prosecutor. But, the argument is that it would take *this* level of federal intervention for the judge (et. al.) to see that folks are watching this case -- and that failure to consider a change of venue might be just one basis for appeal.
posted by CitizenD at 12:45 PM on June 20, 2007


Aaaaaaaaand ROU_Xenophobe beats me to it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:45 PM on June 20, 2007


Because if I kill you because you're gay, I'm doing two things. One, I'm killing one particular gay dude. Two, I'm terrorizing all of the other homosexuals in the area, especially if I make it plain that I'm killing the one particular homosexual because he had the temerity to talk to me, or to be gay near me.

Yeah but again I don't see it as that different from a 'normal' murder. Anyone committing a murder in a neighborhood is also creating a sense of terror among that neighborhood's citizens. They become afraid. The greater the population, the less the impact of one given murder, but of course the same could be said of hate crimes.

The real unpleasant insinuation of hate crime legislation is not that one murder is worse than another, but that somehow one life lost in such a way is less a tragedy than another.
posted by xmutex at 12:49 PM on June 20, 2007


Yeah but again I don't see it as that different from a 'normal' murder. Anyone committing a murder in a neighborhood is also creating a sense of terror among that neighborhood's citizens. They become afraid. The greater the population, the less the impact of one given murder, but of course the same could be said of hate crimes.

It's great being white, heterosexual, and male, isn't it?
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:58 PM on June 20, 2007


CitizenD, you're arguing for federalization of all crimes where there appears to be a conflict of interest, not just the ones where someone mentions gayness. If that's your position, then that's fine -- All crime in Indiana should be handled by the feds. I think that's silly, but it appears to be your position: That this crime should be a federal crime because the Indiana system is corrupt, regardless of whether it's a hate crime.
posted by The World Famous at 1:00 PM on June 20, 2007


Pope Guilty : Hate crimes aren't just about killing- they're about killing as an act of terror. By lynching black people, whites sent the message that other blacks had better not step out of line, or they'd be lynched, too.

Ok, I'll buy that. But like SBMike what I would like to know is if treating this as a hate crime, with an extra punishment, is actually deterring anyone from committing further crimes down the road?

In a weird sort of way, this is like the inverse of the capital punishment discussion. What purpose does it serve? Is it punitive or meant to be a deterrent? And if it's designed as a way of preventing future, similar acts, is it actually working?
posted by quin at 1:01 PM on June 20, 2007


It's great being white, heterosexual, and male, isn't it?

Not if your name is Aaron Hall.
posted by The World Famous at 1:04 PM on June 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


Yeah but again I don't see it as that different from a 'normal' murder. Anyone committing a murder in a neighborhood is also creating a sense of terror among that neighborhood's citizens. They become afraid.

However, everyone in that neighbourhood has an equal chance and/or reason to be afraid. They'd be afraid because there's a violent headcase on the prowl, not because the violent headcase is specifically after them and their ilk.

Suppose there were a grisly murder in your neighbourhood, and the fact that it was a gay-bashing or neo-lynching was only revealed a couple days later. For those first few days you might be freaked out, but (assuming you're not gay or not black) afterwards you'd have no reason to worry: the headcase isn't after you after all.
posted by CKmtl at 1:05 PM on June 20, 2007


I think he's the son of the deputy coroner - not sure what difference that makes, other than I read gooder than some of youse.

The advanceindiana blog is linking to stories suggesting the gay panic is a late addition: the guy was straight, but made advances to the defendant's girlfriend. That being unacceptable cause to murder him even in Crothersville these days, the boys (lets face it, with daddy's thinking cap on it as well) had to invent a slur that would swing a rural jury.

And it woulda worked, if not for those pesky blogs! Dagnabbit!
posted by dash_slot- at 1:07 PM on June 20, 2007


Why should killing someone for their sexual orientation be punished differently than killing them for the look in their eye, their mode of dress, something they said, an amount of money, sheer whimsy, etc etc?

There's only one argument that I've ever found convincing in this discussion, but it's one that I've tentatively embraced, and it's that if the crime is ideologically motivated (whether it's blowing up those people or protecting mother earth by burning SUVs or beating up homos), then the criminal is more likely to be unrepentant and repeat it.

In the case of a crime where the penalty is death, yeah, this isn't really applicable. For penalties that aren't quite so inately binary (either you're executed or you're not), maybe it does make sense to add a bit to strike home the point to people who didn't just flip out or get desparate but who actually thought (based on their ideology) that their crime was the right thing to do.

Even though I buy this argument, I'm still actually a bit wary. The terrorism laws could serve as one obvious cautionary tale. Somehow, you have prosecutors threatening kids who were playing with gunpowder or building a dry ice pool bomb with provisions of the Patriot Act (not kidding), so it doesn't seem at all ridiculous to me to wonder how hate crime stuff would be abused. I don't know enough about the details of the legislation to weigh in here on that, however. If someone does and can, that'd be cool.
Pastors preaching from Scripture on homosexuality could be threatened with persecution and prosecution.'"
Uh, that'd only be so in a situation wherein lightning and flames spew forth from your piehole as you rant, thus smiting me into nothing more than a pile of burning ash at the foot of your altar.


Which is to say that it would seem Dobson has hate speech and hate crimes confused.... or believes the designation of hate crimes will lead to hate speech laws. I'm not similarly alarmed, but I might agree with him that hate speech laws could be pretty dangerous themselves.
posted by weston at 1:09 PM on June 20, 2007


I've never understood hate crime legislation. Honestly, I don't get it. I do not buy the "you're committing a crime against a whole group of people" line. If that were true, then every property theft would be against the whole group of "rich" people. Every act of adultry would be an affront against an entire half of the population.

If it is a crime, punish the crime.

I firmly stand with those above that say if I kill you, then the particular reason of WHY I killed you is mostly irrelevant.

Note this does not invalidate the degrees of murder.

If it is first degree murder because I hated you specifically, or if it is first degree murder because I hate jews, that could not be less relevant.

Lawyer: "You obviously killed the deceased because he was black, and you are a white supremicist."

Accused: "No, I killed him because he was having sex with my wife. The fact he was black is irrelevant."

Judge: "What's it matter? Guilty. Life in prison."

There's no "good" reason for assaulting or murdering someone. Trying to manufacturer "worse" reasons is just ridiculous.
posted by Ynoxas at 1:11 PM on June 20, 2007


It's great being white, heterosexual, and male, isn't it?

It's some sort of weird utilitarian argument that's a little inevitable when you get into these sort of damage to public consciousness points.

When there's a hate crime in my neighborhood, the 10% that are gay are very scared, but the 90% not straight have little cause for direct alarm. When there's a robbery/killing 100% of the neighborhood is frightened by a lesser amount. I think that the commenter above is trying to work that bit of calculus out.

I'd agree that targeted and divisive crimes do more overall damage to the community in the real world, just explaining. That we're in the position of arguing how much sentencing a premeditated murder deserves and recidivism rates in a near-total recidivism system is also a bit absurd.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 1:13 PM on June 20, 2007


"Hate crimes are different from "other crimes" in that they're not just intended to hurt the victim...."

Exactly. Here’s a milder example of two distinctly different situations that would likely constitute the same crime (e.g. misdemeanor vandalism) in jurisdictions without hate crime legislations. GRAFFITI:

[YOU ARE A MINORITY]: Someone has targeted you and "your kind" by spray-painting "FAGGOT"/"NIGGER"/"KIKE" (or etc.) in big letters on your garage door. "Who did this? How do they know “what” you are?--Do they know you? What will they do next? Are you and your family in physical danger? Did your neighbors watch this happen and not say anything?...or maybe was it your own neighbors who did this? Is it safe to live here? Should you move? Everyone driving by can see this, will stare at you. ...Maybe you really should go back to wherever "your kind" belongs."

[YOU ARE NOT A MINORITY]: Some idiot messed up your garage door with spray-paint. People have no respect anymore! This is a real hassle too, because now you're going to have to go out there and scrub it off, and the Cubs game is about to start. Jerks.
posted by applemeat at 1:18 PM on June 20, 2007


The World Famous:
It's great being white, heterosexual, and male, isn't it?

Not if your name is Aaron Hall.

*clap* *clap* *clap* Well said, sirrah.



you wrote:
"CitizenD, you're arguing for federalization of all crimes where there appears to be a conflict of interest, not just the ones where someone mentions gayness. If that's your position, then that's fine -- All crime in Indiana should be handled by the feds. I think that's silly, but it appears to be your position: That this crime should be a federal crime because the Indiana system is corrupt, regardless of whether it's a hate crime."

Honestly, I'm not sure that's what I'm actually arguing. I'll be honest, I'm just a grad student who lives close to Crothersville, who has been outraged at the lack of media coverage of this case and decided to step in for a little citizen journalism. I don't know enough about all of the various things you're discussing to have a well-informed opinion.

All I know is, in this case, it would have been meaningful if Aaron's family could have the federal government's assistance in the investigation. If sexual orientation was included in current federal hate crimes laws, they very well may have been able to. That's my only point.

If Indiana had hate crimes legislation, the family would not have to appeal to the federal government; they could have appealed to higher jurisdictions within the state. But as it stands, they're stuck with what they can get from Jackson County jurisprudence.

I'm not naive enough to believe that the only place in Indiana (or the rest of the country, for that matter) where there is corruption is in Jackson County. I am not trying to argue that all law enforcement should be federalized because of the local corruption. But, with the vicissitudes of this case, it's a shame (could I even say a crime?) that the family is unable to seek outside assistance.

I also think that Aaron's murder is a strong argument for the passage of S1105 for another reason: as it turns out, Aaron's murder likely was *not* a hate crime. Wouldn't it be a great vindication of hate crimes legislation if it was able to step back from advocacy and be more unbiased itself? Wouldn't it be really interesting if hate crimes legislation allowed an investigation to prove that a crime which was *claimed* to be a hate crime was not actually a hate crime?

Just like a grad student. Eleventy words when only 5 will do. Sorry 'bout that.
posted by CitizenD at 1:23 PM on June 20, 2007


Someone has targeted you and "your kind" by spray-painting "FAGGOT"/"NIGGER"/"KIKE" (or etc.) in big letters on your garage door.

Clearly the FBI should be involved at once.
posted by The World Famous at 1:24 PM on June 20, 2007


The crux of this legislation is not about what type of punishment (and its relative severity) should be rendered for a crime based on hate (as a number of comments above seem focused on), but on the ability to insure that such crimes are prosecuted, by providing and insuring Federal oversight, legal assistance and funding in those situations where local or state governments call for such.
"The LLEHCPA/Matthew Shepard Act provides the Justice Department with the ability to aid state and local jurisdictions either by lending assistance or, where local authorities are unwilling or unable, by taking the lead in investigations and prosecutions of violent crime resulting in death or serious bodily injury that were motivated by bias. The LLEHCPA also makes grants available to state and local communities to combat violent crimes committed by juveniles, train law enforcement officers or to assist in state and local investigations and prosecutions of bias-motivated crimes.

A hate crime occurs when the perpetrator of the crime intentionally selects the victim because of who the victim is. While violent hate crimes are a widespread and serious problem in our nation, it is not the frequency or number of violent hate crimes alone that distinguishes these acts of violence from other types of crime. A random act of violence resulting in injury or even death is a tragic event that devastates the lives of the victim and their family, but the intentional selection and beating or murder of an individual because of who they are terrorizes an entire community and sometimes the nation. For example, a 2006 Harris Interactive poll found that 64 percent of gays and lesbians are concerned about being the victim of a bias-motivated crime.

The importance of the LLEHCPA is that it provides a backstop to state and local law enforcement by allowing a federal prosecution if — and only if — it is necessary to achieve an effective, just result, and to permit federal authorities to assist in investigations. Federal support, in the form of grants for training or through direct assistance, will ensure all bias-motivated violence is adequately investigated and prosecuted, while at the same time ensuring state and local authorities are not overburdened.

The bill is endorsed by notable individuals and more than 230 law enforcement, civil rights, civic and religious organizations, including: President George H.W. Bush’s attorney general, Dick Thornburgh; National Sheriffs’ Association; International Association of Chiefs of Police; U.S. Conference of Mayors; Presbyterian Church; Episcopal Church; and the Parent’s Network on Disabilities. Poll after poll continues to show that the American public supports hate crimes legislation inclusive of sexual orientation, including a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released in November 2001 showing 73 percent of Americans supporting hate crimes legislation that includes sexual orientation.

The Hate Crimes Prevention Act protects the First Amendment rights of the accused by prohibiting the introduction of evidence of association or expression to prove that a crime has been committed, unless it specifically relates to the offense. The legislation does not punish, nor prohibit in any way, name-calling, verbal abuse or expressions of hatred toward any group, even if such statements amount to hate speech. It covers only violent criminal actions. During consideration of the bill, the Judiciary Committee explicitly noted that nothing in this legislation would prohibit the lawful expression of ones deeply held religious beliefs. To further ensure that there is no ambiguity on this point, an amendment offered by Rep. Davis (D-AL), was adopted that explicitly states that conduct protected under the First Amendment free expression and free exercise clauses are not subject to prosecution."*
posted by ericb at 1:24 PM on June 20, 2007


Not if your name is Aaron Hall.

Where did this moronic lottery mentality come from? It's the same idea that says because Oprah, blacks are not racially oppressed. That the system occasionally fucks up and allows members of the oppressed class to succeed or punishes nonmembers in the manner that it punishes members doesn't mean that the system isn't there.

Aaron Hall wasn't gay. But he was punished for so being.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:28 PM on June 20, 2007


The problem is how often you get this instead:

Accused: "No, I killed him because he was a homo and I thought he wanted to touch my junk."

Judge: "Gah. Fucking homos. Well, try not to stay out of trouble from now on, y'hear? Not Guilty."
posted by hermitosis at 1:29 PM on June 20, 2007


..try not to stay out of trouble, rather.
posted by hermitosis at 1:30 PM on June 20, 2007


Pope Guilty : Hate crimes aren't just about killing- they're about killing as an act of terror. By lynching black people, whites sent the message that other blacks had better not step out of line, or they'd be lynched, too.

Interesting point, and one that I did not think of. But, if the crime was also an attempt to inimidate would not the prosecution add further terroristic related charges? And if hate crime legislation makes legal sense why don't we begin with rape? That seems to be the hate crime that affects the most people. In America I'm amazed at how frightened so many women are to do things I take for granted. I can't tell you how many times I've walked women from my office to the parking deck because they are afraid to go alone. In my mind, I find this bizarre and a symptom of the culture of ffear in America. You could make the case that we are the safest mass of human beings to live in history, yet we are the most frightened. (but I'm a white guy so I have no reason to be fearfull and my opinion easily dismissed.) If that is the lynchpin of why hate crime legislation is necessary (the fearfull message it sends) then it needs to be applied on a much, much larger scale.
posted by hatchetjack at 1:31 PM on June 20, 2007


Aaron Hall wasn't gay. But he was punished for so being.

BS. He was allegedly murdered for hitting on the girlfriend of one of his killers.

The problem is how often you get this instead:

Accused: "No, I killed him because he was a homo and I thought he wanted to touch my junk."

Judge: "Gah. Fucking homos. Well, try not to stay out of trouble from now on, y'hear? Not Guilty."


How often do you actually get that? I agree, that sounds awful. It also sounds like a movie or a book from 40 years ago. Cite some actual cases -- enough to justify a federal power grab.
posted by The World Famous at 1:34 PM on June 20, 2007


"Federal Power Grab" -- WTF?

This has nothing to do about a "power grab." If it did, Bush, Cheney, Gonzalez and Rove would be salivating for this legislation, thus extending this administration's claim of the primacy of executive power in government. As it stands, they don't want to extend current legislation to a minority in this country. As stated above, many in law enforcement, as well as a significant majority of Americans think such protection for gays/lesbians should be granted under federal legislation.
posted by ericb at 1:47 PM on June 20, 2007


In other news, is it just me, or is metafilter getting gayer?
It's like, how much more gay could this be? and the answer is none. None more gay.

posted by kirkaracha at 1:47 PM on June 20, 2007


The world famous:

Aaron Hall wasn't gay. But he was punished for so being.

BS. He was allegedly murdered for hitting on the girlfriend of one of his killers.

Actually, no one is exactly sure. His family does not believe Aaron was gay. His friends suggest that, after his last prison sentence, he had "changed." 'Word on the street' is that Aaron contracted HIV in jail. Some people do claim he was gay. Others say no way. He had a girlfriend until about a month before he died. He has a surviving daughter. But, of course, how many homosexual men have had girlfriends/progeny?

We simply can't know what his orientation was. We simply can't know what the actual motivation was. There are rumors that he hit on one of the defendant's girlfriend. There are other rumors that say Aaron insulted the dead mother of another of the defendants. If the defendants had heard that he was HIV positive, might they have beaten him to death just for that, with or without a "gay advance?"

All I"m suggesting is that you ought not call "BS" on something when *none* of us knows what really happened.

All we have to go on are the defendants' statements, in which they admitted to beating him to death because of an alleged gay advance.
posted by CitizenD at 1:52 PM on June 20, 2007


This has nothing to do about a "power grab." If it did, Bush, Cheney, Gonzalez and Rove would be salivating for this legislation, thus extending this administration's claim of the primacy of executive power in government.

Ah, so in your estimation, anything that Bush is not doing is by definition not a power grab. So, the fact that Bush has not proposed elimination of all local law enforcement and replacement of the same by federal cops means that such an action would not be a power grab? WTF indeed.

As stated above, many in law enforcement, as well as a significant majority of Americans think such protection for gays/lesbians should be granted under federal legislation.

As stated above, many in law enforcement, as well as a significant majority of Americans, are stupid. Indeed, many in law enforcement are corrupt and apparently ignore obvious conflicts of interest.

When you ask a federal agency if its jurisdiction should be expanded, what do you think it's going to say? No, thanks?
posted by The World Famous at 1:54 PM on June 20, 2007



“I firmly stand with those above that say if I kill you, then the particular reason of WHY I killed you is mostly irrelevant.”

I have to slightly disagree.
I’m not fully on-board with all aspects of hate crime legislation. But I understand the reasoning.
Yes, the reason WHY is irrelevent to the crime (indeed, you don’t have to prove motive to show guilt).
But motive - WHY - may be relevent socially. And I think hate crimes are designed to attempt to address that.
Similar to how RICO laws were designed for their purpose.
Whether they do so successfully or whether they are or can be abused is subject (manifestly) to debate.
And personally I’m on the fence in terms of the execution of these kinds of laws regarding the impact on society and liberty.
But by the same token I recognize attacks on minorities of any kind (whether based on sexual orientation, ethnicity or religion) as a social ill that needs to be addressed.
I’m wary of using government powers to do social engineering and the potential for oppression (which governments are so wont to do). Yet there needs to be recognition that there are forms of organized oppression other than the government and the nature of the minority in question is - as you rightly point out - purely arbitrary.
I myself find homosexual sex repugnant. Thankfully, I don’t have to participate in any. And indeed, other people might find heterosexual sex - or any other sort of otherwise lawful activity (practicing one’s religion, interethnic marriage, etc) repugnant.
I would argue that because of the arbitrary nature there - it could well be smedleymen being oppressed and it’s in my personal interest to see violence predicated on harrassing smedleymen eliminated.
Obviously without some government interdiction this would lead to very serious social conflict.
The government has in the past mediated some social conflicts and restored peace and order. Others it’s been unsuccessful in and some it was actively subverted.
That past history is mostly why I’m on the fence.

But all those considerations aside I would argue that some kind of measures must be taken to address a crime motivated by certain social pressures in the same way the government would address anyone who is suspected to be a repeat offender.
(For example: If you shoot the person who was sleeping with your wife - he’s not going to sleep with your wife anymore. And so it’s unlikely you would shoot someone else who happens to be like him.)
When the motivation is social rather than passion or material - hate of a certain group - there is a likelyhood you may do it again simply because someone else is like your initial victim.

Which is the center of the major logical flaws in the “gay panic” defense (and why it must be predicated on base emotion and social prejudices). If you have panicked once, it is likely you will again and there is no guarantee that it would not happen with less provocation. Therefore even if someone is not homosexual but appears to be - or indeed, subjectively appears to be to the gay panicker - is that person’s life also forfeit?

Hate crime laws can be legitimized for that purpose - not as an additional punishment for the existing crime, but for recognition of the potential for repeatability. I can’t argue against the necessity for some kind of legal mechanism that recognizes that (since all smedleymen and everyone who might be subjectively judged to be one can be considered threatened)

But again, how they are used in real world circumstances is another matter. Not to mention the unfortunatly hyperbolic name.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:55 PM on June 20, 2007


We simply can't know what the actual motivation was.

Then we simply can't know whether it was a hate crime.
posted by The World Famous at 1:57 PM on June 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


If they're using a gay panic defense, then you know what the motivation was--it was clearly a hate crime.
posted by amberglow at 2:00 PM on June 20, 2007


I don't really know if this analogy holds, but these laws strike me as the equivalent to an elementary school teacher saying "Now I know some of you have been picking on Billy. This is completely unacceptable. I want everybody to be nice to Billy from now on." ...cue even worse beatings and humiliation for Billy.

I'm not trying to downplay the tragedy that victims of these crimes experience here, but I'm wondering what the long term effects of enshrining these groups in legal protections is with regard to how they are perceived by the community at large. It seems like a de facto acceptance that racism is here to stay and an inability to imagine a future where such laws are unnecessary. To me this seems fairly cynical in a society where, while there is a long long way to go, the general trend has been one where tolerance for minority groups has been increasing. Could hate crime laws be somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy? Could it be that these laws result in the protected groups being perceived as weak and might have unintended consequences? I haven't seen these aspects discussed much and am curious as to what people here think.
posted by SBMike at 2:01 PM on June 20, 2007


SBMike. Are you against enshrining these groups in legal protections when it's people who kill Blacks and Mexicans because of racism, or when they do so against Muslims or Christians? All those groups are enshrined, and no one complained about them.
posted by amberglow at 2:04 PM on June 20, 2007


The fact that many groups already are protected because the crimes against them are specific and specifically motivated by hatred seems only to be a problem when it comes to us, who are bashed very regularly all over the country only and specifically because we're gay--even in presumed safe areas like here and other big cities.
posted by amberglow at 2:06 PM on June 20, 2007


All those groups are enshrined, and no one complained about them.

Lots of people have complained about all types of hate crime legislation all along, and for the same reasons that they're complaining here.
posted by The World Famous at 2:06 PM on June 20, 2007


amberglow, yes I am (see my comment above for clarification).
posted by SBMike at 2:07 PM on June 20, 2007


Ok, then--take motivation out of all sentencing and criminal laws. That's all this is.

The facts are that hate crimes are more extreme, more violent, and not random at all--they're not just murders or bashings or robberies. When those guys dragged that guy behind his truck in Texas for miles, it wasn't some random guy--it was specifically some black guy. When people shot those Sikh gas station owners it wasn't some random crime or robbery but specifically because they targeted them (incorrectly) as Muslims.
posted by amberglow at 2:09 PM on June 20, 2007


We simply can't know what the actual motivation was.


Then we simply can't know whether it was a hate crime.


Perfectly stated.
posted by hatchetjack at 2:13 PM on June 20, 2007


Well then, the punishment should fit the crime. If a crime is more violent, it should be prosecuted more harshly. It still has nothing to do with the motivation.
posted by SBMike at 2:14 PM on June 20, 2007


Orcinus on them: ...
But hate crimes are not about race per se. There are many, many more interracial crimes -- including both white-on-black and black-on-white crimes -- that are never prosecuted as bias crimes for a simple reason: there is no evidence that they were motivated by any kind of bias, racial or otherwise. ...
The highly charged racial and religious context in which hate crimes have been portrayed generally to the public has given birth to one of the most basic misconceptions about them: that is, the notion that any kind of crime involving intergroup conflict, especially different identity groups -- interracial crime, for instance, or the Dirkhising case -- constitutes a "hate crime." Thus when a black-on-white crime -- or a gay-on-straight crime -- occurs, observers will sometimes wonder why it is not treated as a hate crime, even though there is no evidence the crime was motivated by bias.

And, of course, it is precisely the presence of a bias motivation, and nothing else, that makes a crime a "hate" crime. This certainly is reflected in the fact that the word "hate" at best appears only in the title of any hate-crime law; the laws themselves uniformly refer to them as "bias-motivated."
...

posted by amberglow at 2:14 PM on June 20, 2007


amberglow, when motivation is considered in sentencing, it doesn't make it turn into a federal crime. Furthermore, there are plenty of extremely violent non-random crimes that are not "hate crimes." The BTK killer's crimes were no less extreme than any hate crime. Why should he be prosecuted less than others?
posted by The World Famous at 2:15 PM on June 20, 2007



Well then, the punishment should fit the crime. If a crime is more violent, it should be prosecuted more harshly. It still has nothing to do with the motivation.


Bull. A man who kills his wife or his wife's lover is all about the motivation, for just one example. A robbery for money to pay rent is all about the motivation. Many crimes are. All sentences are, and most classes of crimes themselves--that's the difference--planning, motivation, and other factors are all taken in account.
posted by amberglow at 2:16 PM on June 20, 2007


The BTK killer's crimes were no less extreme than any hate crime. Why should he be prosecuted less than others?

He shouldn't be. No one's saying they should be. An insane serial killer has his own motivations. And those were taken into account in court.

It's because of the long and bloody history of specifically motivated crimes against people solely because they're perceived as members of some hated group that hate crimes laws exist. We have all sorts of laws and protections that protect the minority or minority groups --this is just another of them.

Traditional hate crime legislation protects persons because of "his race, color, religion or national origin," as in the case of the 1969 federal hate crimes law. (18 U.S.C. Section 245). Most state laws now include additional protected groups. ...
posted by amberglow at 2:22 PM on June 20, 2007


And the proposed extension of categories does not enshrine anyone in anything--it simply recognizes a tragic reality.
posted by amberglow at 2:26 PM on June 20, 2007


We have all sorts of laws and protections that protect the minority or minority groups --this is just another of them.

We already had laws and protections that protected everyone, including minorities, from being murdered. As I understand it, hate crime legislation stems not from the idea that killing a minority was not a crime and should be, but the idea that rednecks don't prosecute crimes against minorities.

Unless there really is a situation where, by law, crimes against minorities aren't prosecuted, it doesn't make sense to re-criminalize something that's already a crime.
posted by The World Famous at 2:29 PM on June 20, 2007


The BTK killer's crimes were no less extreme than any hate crime.

That's a rather odd comparison right there...

Hate-crime perpetrators and psychopath serial-killers both target their victims simply because they exist or exhibit certain traits.

But the hate-crime perpetrator is sane, lucid, and generally not different from any other person except that they decided to kill or harm someone for the perceived transgression of the victim's existence.
posted by CKmtl at 2:33 PM on June 20, 2007


But the hate-crime perpetrator is sane, lucid, and generally not different from any other person except that they decided to kill or harm someone for the perceived transgression of the victim's existence.

Really? I assume you're relying on long-term scientific studies, and not just making baseless generalizations there.
posted by The World Famous at 2:37 PM on June 20, 2007


a significant majority of Americans are stupid.

Ah yes, like the majority that elected Al Gore as President in 2000 ... or that which did so in electing Bush in 2004 ... or those which put the Democrats in the majority for both houses of Congress. Damn ... stupid, idiotic majorities!
posted by ericb at 2:39 PM on June 20, 2007


“Unless there really is a situation where, by law, crimes against minorities aren't prosecuted, it doesn't make sense to re-criminalize something that's already a crime.”

Until it was addressed, the most a prosecutor could hope for on a cross burning was trespassing and creating a hazardous situation (with the fire) and the latter typically was harder to prove. (Kinda funny thinking of Klansmen carrying fire extinguishers and practicing fire safety, but there ya go)

Hate crime legislation addresses the social context in which the crime is committed in much the same manner.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:41 PM on June 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


And -- yes -- I do realize that Gore led in the popular vote, but lost due to a controversial ruling by the Supreme Court vis-a-vis the electoral vote count.
posted by ericb at 2:41 PM on June 20, 2007



Unless there really is a situation where, by law, crimes against minorities aren't prosecuted, it doesn't make sense to re-criminalize something that's already a crime.


What Smedleyman said. I can dig up all the stuff on underreporting and underinvestigating and underprosecuting of bias crimes if you want. Many police forces all over the country even today don't treat bias crimes with the respect they give to other crimes. From "boys will be boys" to "well, this is a white town" to "they didn't know their place"...
posted by amberglow at 2:46 PM on June 20, 2007


And the proposed extension of categories does not enshrine anyone in anything--it simply recognizes a tragic reality.

You're probably right, but even so, these laws are by and large perceived as doing exactly that. My point was to consider the implications of those perceptions on the dynamic between the protected minority group and society at large.
posted by SBMike at 2:48 PM on June 20, 2007


Saying there's no need for bias crimes laws is really like saying there's no need for civil rights laws in many ways. After all, our Constitution says all men are created equal, right? And civil rights laws enshrined certain groups in legal protections too and not others.
posted by amberglow at 2:50 PM on June 20, 2007


hate crime legislation stems not from the idea that killing a minority was not a crime and should be, but the idea that rednecks don't prosecute crimes against minorities.

Unless there really is a situation where, by law, crimes against minorities aren't prosecuted, it doesn't make sense to re-criminalize something that's already a crime.


This legislation is not about the punishment, but about the alleged hate crime and seeing that it is prosecuted in instances where local and/or state jurisidictions are not pursuing it due to suspected bias/prejudice, lack of resources, etc.

Worth repeating:
""The LLEHCPA/Matthew Shepard Act provides the Justice Department with the ability to aid state and local jurisdictions either by lending assistance or, where local authorities are unwilling or unable, by taking the lead in investigations and prosecutions of violent crime resulting in death or serious bodily injury that were motivated by bias....The importance of the LLEHCPA is that it provides a backstop to state and local law enforcement by allowing a federal prosecution if — and only if — it is necessary to achieve an effective, just result, and to permit federal authorities to assist in investigations. Federal support, in the form of grants for training or through direct assistance, will ensure all bias-motivated violence is adequately investigated and prosecuted, while at the same time ensuring state and local authorities are not overburdened."*
posted by ericb at 2:51 PM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


But the perceptions don't matter in comparison to the violence done and the harm to society as a whole when some groups can't even exist safely.

It's like not integrating schools, swimming pools, or public accomodations because the overwhelming perception back then was that of blacks being forced on whites and being backed up by the law no matter what the majority wanted.
posted by amberglow at 2:53 PM on June 20, 2007


Until it was addressed, the most a prosecutor could hope for on a cross burning was trespassing and creating a hazardous situation (with the fire) and the latter typically was harder to prove. (Kinda funny thinking of Klansmen carrying fire extinguishers and practicing fire safety, but there ya go)

So, under federal hate crime laws, what charges different from state criminal offense charges can be brought by the feds for cross burning?
posted by The World Famous at 2:53 PM on June 20, 2007


This legislation is not about the punishment, but about the alleged hate crime and seeing that it is prosecuted in instances where local and/or state jurisidictions are not pursuing it due to suspected bias/prejudice, lack of resources, etc.

Yeah, that's exactly what I said.
posted by The World Famous at 2:54 PM on June 20, 2007


But the perceptions don't matter in comparison to the violence done and the harm to society as a whole when some groups can't even exist safely.

Perceptions don't matter? Isn't the perception of gays as weak and easy targets driving a lot of the violence to begin with? If you could show me that these laws actually prevent any violence, I'd be on board. The civil rights laws were quite (not perfectly) effective at giving blacks legal equality. These laws seem more like a hastily applied band-aid that won't actually protect any gay kids in rural Texas from getting beat up. Show me some evidence of deterrence and I'll certainly reconsider my position.
posted by SBMike at 3:07 PM on June 20, 2007


The World Famous: Really? I assume you're relying on long-term scientific studies, and not just making baseless generalizations there.

What baseless generalizations would those be?

That hate-crime perpetrators generally don't have any psychological or psychiatric problems which would classify them as insane (in the legal sense) before or after having committed the crime? That hate-crime perpetrators generally don't commit their crimes under some grand delusion that fundamentally screws with their perception of reality (aka aren't lucid)?

Or that people who kill or harm blacks/jews/trannies/homosexuals for being blacks/jews/trannies/homosexuals are doing so because the victim was a black/jew/tranny/homosexual?
posted by CKmtl at 3:14 PM on June 20, 2007


That hate-crime perpetrators generally don't have any psychological or psychiatric problems which would classify them as insane (in the legal sense) before or after having committed the crime?

Yep, that's a ridiculous and baseless generalization.

That hate-crime perpetrators generally don't commit their crimes under some grand delusion that fundamentally screws with their perception of reality (aka aren't lucid)?

And another -- in fact, hate crimes are, by definition, committed by people who are under a grand delusion that fundamentally screws with their perception of reality, since they are perpetrated by people who suffer from the delusion that minorities are inferior to them or that minorities deserve to be harmed.
posted by The World Famous at 3:18 PM on June 20, 2007


This thread has swayed my opinion on this subject. When I stated my above feelings on hate crimes, I was placing them in the category of violent offenses where the sentencing should be harsh by virtue of the crime not the 'hate' aspect of it.

But I hadn't considered lesser crimes like vandalism or things like cross burning. These are actually things that do operate asymmetrically with regard to the terror they cause versus the punishment that would normally be associated with them.

As hatchetjack suggested upthread, I wonder if it would be better to get rid of the 'hate crime' designation and just switch to a charge of 'terrorism' (or perhaps a less loaded word) where a persons actions are clearly and intentionally designed to harm the community, this charge could be added.

So spray-painting = vandalism = small fine. Spray-painting swastika = vandalism + terrorism = fine + jailtime.

And this terroristic behavior charge could be clearly defined to eliminate the grey areas that seem to be associated with hate crimes.
posted by quin at 3:22 PM on June 20, 2007


Yeah, that's exactly what I said.

And the reason for my post backing it up.
posted by ericb at 3:28 PM on June 20, 2007


well, "bias crime" is the official term i believe-- "terrorism" would fit only some of the crimes.

Perceptions don't matter? Isn't the perception of gays as weak and easy targets driving a lot of the violence to begin with? If you could show me that these laws actually prevent any violence, I'd be on board. The civil rights laws were quite (not perfectly) effective at giving blacks legal equality. These laws seem more like a hastily applied band-aid that won't actually protect any gay kids in rural Texas from getting beat up. Show me some evidence of deterrence and I'll certainly reconsider my position.

Perceptions of groups are not changed by punishment laws or categories. Perceptions of groups that lead to violence against those groups are not changed by punishment laws or categories.

This is not about protection but prosecution so perception isn't really operative -- And even rights laws and other things don't change perceptions of those considered "other". Blacks actually had Constitutional Equality on paper, but not legal or practical equality, just as we all do or don't. The perceptions and realities are never the same nor are they actually swayed--many millions of Americans still think Affirmative Action and diversity and equity hiring and contracting, etc, give minorities an unfair advantage but reality shows that's not so. White straight Christian men still have all the overwhelming advantages in this society, whether they perceive that to be so or not. Violence because of perceptions or increased violence because of that is not a reason to not protect or punish.
posted by amberglow at 3:34 PM on June 20, 2007


Are there any punishments that actually act as effective deterrents to crime?
posted by amberglow at 3:36 PM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


in many jurisdictions it would already be eligible for the death penalty. Is that not sufficient?

I'd guess that in many "death penalty" jurisdictions (I'm against the practice, it sends the wrong message), the penalty for such crimes is less likely to be severe. The force of adding that dimension to convictions (anywhere) might help assure a notorious penalty.
posted by Twang at 3:36 PM on June 20, 2007


Are there any punishments that actually act as effective deterrents to crime?

The $300 speeding ticket I got last year effectively deters me from speeding on that stretch of the 405, yes.
posted by The World Famous at 3:37 PM on June 20, 2007


Saying there's no need for bias crimes laws is really like saying there's no need for civil rights laws in many ways. After all, our Constitution says all men are created equal, right? And civil rights laws enshrined certain groups in legal protections too and not others.

All men are created equal.... yes right there in the constitution. Hate crime legislation does not make a situation equal. Civil rights laws codify equality. Hate crime laws codify more/ faster punishment for those with particular motivations.

If I was a woman I would seriously be pissed that this didn't apply to me. Think of all the crime commited by mysoginysts (sp?)
posted by hatchetjack at 3:39 PM on June 20, 2007


Our prison populations and mandatory sentencing things grow and grow, but crime is not reduced. There aren't fewer drug crimes because of more punishment for dealers. There aren't fewer crimes in general because of the death penalty.

There aren't fewer bias crimes because of these laws---it's only that those criminals get stronger sentences, and that the crimes can be recorded and categorized as distinct categories and that programs can be developed to try to reduce them (if desired).

The actual sunlight these laws provide do a world of good, even if they don't reduce actual incidents. Specific rape laws did the same--the stigma in reporting one is greatly lessened and they are prosecuted much more than they used to be, altho i don't think rapes were deterred.
posted by amberglow at 3:41 PM on June 20, 2007


hatchet--look at all the gender-specific criminal laws we do have--rape laws are just one group of very many.
posted by amberglow at 3:43 PM on June 20, 2007


in addition...jesus christ, think of the can of worms this would open up when trying to determine motive. Not "a" motive as is required often, but "the" motive of hatred towards a protected class of people, but not women.
posted by hatchetjack at 3:44 PM on June 20, 2007


There aren't fewer bias crimes because of these laws---it's only that those criminals get stronger sentences, and that the crimes can be recorded and categorized as distinct categories and that programs can be developed to try to reduce them (if desired).

This makes perfect sense. No argument on that point here.
posted by SBMike at 3:46 PM on June 20, 2007


Rape laws are not gender specific.
posted by tkchrist at 3:49 PM on June 20, 2007


Women are considered "a protected class" in many instances--especially violence and murder. (sometimes officially and sometimes as a result of judge and jury bias to some classes of women)

We look at motive in all crimes, i believe. It's officially part of our law enforcement system entirely--from charges brought to things brought up at trials to jury instructions to sentencing to appeals, etc.
posted by amberglow at 3:51 PM on June 20, 2007


Rape laws are not gender specific.

Some are worded so, tk--spousal rape laws are one group--and rape shield laws are also worded specifically to protect women...i'm sure there are others.
posted by amberglow at 3:54 PM on June 20, 2007


And another -- in fact, hate crimes are, by definition, committed by people who are under a grand delusion that fundamentally screws with their perception of reality, since they are perpetrated by people who suffer from the delusion that minorities are inferior to them or that minorities deserve to be harmed.

Hate is not listed anywhere in the DSM as a delusion. Nor is 'hate-riddled asshole' a kind of personality disorder. What comes closest to 'seeing minorities as inferior' would be either narcissistic personality disorder or possibly psychopathy. But neither of those limit the 'seeing others as inferior/worthless' or 'no empathy toward others' aspects solely to minority groups to which the person doesn't belong. In both of those cases, it's everyone who is unworthy of empathy or inferior, including members of the person's own group and family.

So, no, hate-crime perpetrators are not operating under a delusion. Nor are they generally suffering from some pervasive and chronic psychiatric problem such as your example of the BTK killer, or Manson or Bundy or Gacy or Dahmer.
posted by CKmtl at 4:04 PM on June 20, 2007


hatchetjack:
All men are created equal.... yes right there in the constitution. Hate crime legislation does not make a situation equal. Civil rights laws codify equality. Hate crime laws codify more/ faster punishment for those with particular motivations.

That's not the only thing that hate crimes laws do. In the case of the federal "Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act" (linked upthread), it allows for localities to seek federal assistance (dollars, investigators, other resources) when the investigation of a crime goes beyond what the local jurisdiction can handle.
posted by CitizenD at 4:14 PM on June 20, 2007


Hate is not listed anywhere in the DSM as a delusion.

I may be mistaken, but I don't believe Hate is listed anywhere in hate crime laws, either.

Nor is 'hate-riddled asshole' a kind of personality disorder

Also not part of the hate crime laws.

So, no, hate-crime perpetrators are not operating under a delusion.

We're not going to do that stupid thing where MeFites argue about the definitions of terms, are we? Because I though that by "delusion," you meant a false belief or "an erroneous belief that is held in the face of evidence to the contrary." If that's not what you meant, then I retract my previous statement. I have no intention to argue about definitions.

Nor are they generally suffering from some pervasive and chronic psychiatric problem such as your example of the BTK killer, or Manson or Bundy or Gacy or Dahmer.

Once again you're making a generalized psychiatric diagnosis of an undefined and unidentifiable group of people. WTF?
posted by The World Famous at 4:15 PM on June 20, 2007


The World Famous

We simply can't know what the actual motivation was.

Then we simply can't know whether it was a hate crime.


...not yet. And not with with the situation on the scene in Crothersville. Thankfully, interest in this case has exploded in the last week...so, maybe with other outside eyes, more information will become known.

...but maybe, if S1105 is passed, future victims' families' will have more options available to them.

I don't think anyone is saying that opening the door for federal involvement is going to solve all the world's problems, prevent all hate crimes, and make everyone in this country fart rainbows 'cause they're so happy. No one is saying that federal investigations can't *also* be corrupt.

But, if the legislation already exists on the federal level to protect racial minorities, religious minorities and individuals from 'potentially dangerous' national origins, how can you possibly argue that Aaron's murder is anything but an incredibly compelling reason to include GLBT/gender identity in those protections?

Don't these victim's families deserve to have every resource available to them to find and punish the perpetrators?
posted by CitizenD at 4:25 PM on June 20, 2007


But, if the legislation already exists on the federal level to protect racial minorities, religious minorities and individuals from 'potentially dangerous' national origins, how can you possibly argue that Aaron's murder is anything but an incredibly compelling reason to include GLBT/gender identity in those protections?

How? Well, for starters by pointing out that the existing legislation is stupid and unconstitutional.

Don't these victim's families deserve to have every resource available to them to find and punish the perpetrators?

Every resource in the entire world? No.
posted by The World Famous at 4:28 PM on June 20, 2007


hatchetjack:
If I was a woman I would seriously be pissed that this didn't apply to me. Think of all the crime commited by mysoginysts (sp?)

Interesting point. If S1105 is passed, gender *will* be included in the categories that are protected under federal law.

Again, I'm not a legal scholar, but it seems to me that if gender was included under the federal statute, there might very well be rape situations where the prosecutor could add a hate crimes enhancement.

It'd be tricky, to be sure. Of course, many would say that all rape (against women) is inherently mysoginistic. But, methinks a prosecutor would still have to have some pretty specific statements to *prove* that the rapist raped a particular woman *because she was a woman.*

I dunno. Something else to think about.
posted by CitizenD at 4:31 PM on June 20, 2007


Well, The World Famous, we do just fundamentally disagree, don't we?

For what it's worth, I have my own cause for pause about certain aspects of the philosophy behind hate crimes legislation.

However, unless and until it is decreed unconstitutional by someone other than your esteemed self, I'm going to operate in the reality -- which is that it exists, and is helping people around the country.

...and therefore, in my mind, there are many compelling arguments to include GLBT individuals and people with minority gender identities into existing law. Hate crimes against these individuals are just as heinous as those perpetrated against racial or religious minorities. Statistics show that in 2004, 8 of every 1000 hate crimes was race-motivated; 14 of every 1000 was gay bashing.

...and, for that matter, any other group which is able to produce the kind of data that GLBT/gender identity groups can produce to show that there is a very real problem with anti-gay/etc. violence in this country.

Personally, I don't think this is (should be?) the thread to host general arguments for/against hate crimes legislation. Aaron's murder is a very specific demonstration of the fact that laws which already exist should simply be slightly expanded to include GLBT/gender identity.
posted by CitizenD at 4:42 PM on June 20, 2007


I'm going to operate in the reality -- which is that it exists, and is helping people around the country.

How, specifically, and in concrete terms, is it helping anyone around the country?

Hate crimes against these individuals are just as heinous as those perpetrated against racial or religious minorities.

I agree. I also think that other murders are just as heinous as any of those.

Aaron's murder is a very specific demonstration of the fact that laws which already exist should simply be slightly expanded to include GLBT/gender identity.

On the contrary, I think Aaron's murder, where it is not at all clear that sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation had anything to do with the crime, is a lousy demonstration of hate crime laws. It's a good demonstration of how messed up Indiana is, but I don't need any convincing on that front.
posted by The World Famous at 4:57 PM on June 20, 2007


Nobody's reading this thread anymore, and my comment is only tertiarily related, but this is one of my "argh" buttons, so:

After all, our Constitution says all men are created equal, right?...

All men are created equal.... yes right there in the constitution.


NO IT ISN'T. It's in the Declaration of Independence and it's got nothing to do with the law in the United States.

</they-are-two-different-fucking-documents rant>
posted by tzikeh at 5:06 PM on June 20, 2007


The World Famous
On the contrary, I think Aaron's murder, where it is not at all clear that sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation had anything to do with the crime, is a lousy demonstration of hate crime laws. It's a good demonstration of how messed up Indiana is, but I don't need any convincing on that front.

Yes, but you see -- it's the defendants themselves that opened this can of worms. *They* are the ones, in sworn and published statements, who said that they beat Aaron to death because he made a gay advance on one of them.

All of the rest of this is speculation. That's why I say that Aaron's sexual preference is actually immaterial.

And it's why I say his murder is an excellent example of the need for S1105 to be passed by the Senate. It took 10 days for Aaron's body to be discovered. Ten days before one of the boys -- the one who had been the recipient of the cel phone camera photo of Aaron's beaten body -- finally broke down and call the cops. Ten days during which the defendant's father allowed the corpse to rot in his garage. Ten days for them all to plot and contrive, come up with a story to tell the cops when they eventually found out.

'Word on the street' is that there were others there at the time King and Gray started beating Aaron. That's what I'm trying to figure out right now -- if there were other teenagers there, and if so, why they are not coming forward. What actually happened? I don't know.

All I do know is that it would be nice if Aaron's family could seek additional help beyond the local cops/prosecutors/public defenders/jailers/etc/.

Perhaps, instead of jumping on the anti-Indiana/midwest/flyover country bandwagon with this story, you could try stereotyping in the positive? For example, look at all the amazing work that Indiana bloggers are doing to try to bring justice -- or at least aid the investigation? There are some pretty amazing people here, just like most places. There are some pretty horrific people here, just like most places. We're really not all that different. Comments like yours simply breed a coarse distance. That seems so unnecessary to me.
posted by CitizenD at 5:14 PM on June 20, 2007


The World Famous: I went 8 rounds on this the last time this issue came up, and went in and did the research. The fact of the matter is that in most states, there is already forms of penalty enhancement based on the status of the victim and the circumstances of the event.

So for example, there is penalty enhancement for killing a policeman or officer of the court. There is penalty enhancement for crimes against children and the disabled. If you kill someone during the commission of a felony, that bumps up the crime another category as well. Usually what these conditions say is that the base level for the crime is "murder" but one or more of these conditions justify a charge of "murder in the first degree" or "aggravated murder."

In addition to the statutory distinctions which are made, most states have fairly explicit sentencing guidelines which are used to determine penalties. And those might not only include first offense or second offense as aggravating factors, but aspects such as gang membership.

So in regards to comparing hate crimes to a case like the BTK killer, with the BTK killer the prosecution had the option of requesting the impostion of enhanced penalties (life without parole or the death penalty) and the ability to introduce evidence that the harshest possible penalty was justified. What hate crimes legislation does is offer the prosecution the opportunity to treat evidence that the victim was selected on the basis of race, religion or sexual orientation as an aggrivating factor which may justify an enhanced penalty.

And there are other sides to this legislation as well, it requires that the government keep track of these crimes. And tracking is IMO a good thing.

And of course, existing Supereme Court precident is such that these laws would protect straight folk from gangs of rampaging homosexuals. That was established when the Supreme Court found that men can be sexually harassed in the workplace, and can seek remedy for that harassment.

tzikh: NO IT ISN'T. It's in the Declaration of Independence and it's got nothing to do with the law in the United States.

I wouldn't say that it has nothing to do with law in the United States. The DofI was brought into the forefront by Lincoln and has been considered a primary justification behind Civil Rights Law since.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:18 PM on June 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


NO IT ISN'T. It's in the Declaration of Independence and it's got nothing to do with the law in the United States.

sorry, tzikeh -- what about kirk's point tho? and where does the equality thing come from?
posted by amberglow at 5:29 PM on June 20, 2007


BTW, the Constitutional justification for giving the federal government the power to examine cases is the 14th Amendment which says that all persons in federal jurisdiction are entitled to "the equal protection of laws" and gives Congress the power to make this happen. If state governments fail to offer the equal protection of laws by refusing to prosecute some types of crimes, the Federal Government is obliged to remedy the situation.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:30 PM on June 20, 2007


Equality of all persons in U.S. jurisdiction is mostly granted by the 14th Amendment, but probably could be stated more explicitly via mechanisms like the ERA. At any rate, quite a bit of what was said in the DofI has ended up in the Constitution in some form or another, including equal protection under the law. Although some of it took a while due to the slavery issue.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:41 PM on June 20, 2007


kalessin: "I'm sorry to interrupt the wanking,"

There are harsh sentencing enhancements in this jurisdiction for that. You better watch yourself.

citizenD:

Perhaps, instead of jumping on the anti-Indiana/midwest/flyover country bandwagon with this story, you could try stereotyping in the positive?

Oh, I have nothing against the midwest generally, and there are lots of very good people in Indiana, especially in its college towns.
posted by The World Famous at 5:49 PM on June 20, 2007


The World Famous: ... I though that by "delusion," you meant a false belief or "an erroneous belief that is held in the face of evidence to the contrary." If that's not what you meant, then I retract my previous statement.

That's roughly what I meant, but with an added bit: consideration for the society, culture or subculture that the person's in. If it's not something to which all or most of the person's society, culture, or subculture would raise an eyebrow, then it's not a delusion. There's a large amount of people out there who think "homosexuals are disgusting, inferior people and deserve harm", that's a belief. "Homosexuals are disgusting and deserve harm because they're in control of the weather and covertly put skidmarks in my boxers" would probably cause even Fred Phelps to look at you a bit strangely, that's a delusion. Not arguing the term, just explaining the different use of it.

Once again you're making a generalized psychiatric diagnosis of an undefined and unidentifiable group of people. WTF?

I guess it could've come off like I was asserting something about the mental health of all hate-crime perpetrators, but it was actually meant as refutation of presumptive mental illness. As in, they're no more likely to be mentally ill than any other criminal, or possibly anyone in the general population. There is an increased prevalence of psych problems in prison populations, but that doesn't mean that any given criminal or murderer or hate-crime perpetrator is necessarily insane.

I may be mistaken, but I don't believe Hate is listed anywhere in hate crime laws, either. ... Also not part of the hate crime laws.

I haven't been commenting on hate-crime laws, my bad I guess... I originally made an observation about your comparison between hate-crime perpetrators and seriously deranged serial killers. I still think it's wonky considering that the former are no more likely to be insane than other people run-of-the-mill criminals, while the latter are wayyyy out there. But that really has nothing to do with hate-crime laws.
posted by CKmtl at 5:55 PM on June 20, 2007


There's a large amount of people out there who think "homosexuals are disgusting, inferior people and deserve harm", that's a belief.

Yeah, that's a delusion.
posted by The World Famous at 6:00 PM on June 20, 2007


Wow. I thought that crimes against gays (or against people other people believe to be gay) were already considered to fall under the Hate Crimes umbrella. Can't believe this is even under debate, really. We can't discriminate against others based on gender, race, or sexual orientation--but it's okay to beat them up?!
posted by misha at 7:00 PM on June 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


And it's why I say his murder is an excellent example of the need for S1105 to be passed by the Senate. It took 10 days for Aaron's body to be discovered. Ten days before one of the boys -- the one who had been the recipient of the cel phone camera photo of Aaron's beaten body -- finally broke down and call the cops. Ten days during which the defendant's father allowed the corpse to rot in his garage. Ten days for them all to plot and contrive, come up with a story to tell the cops when they eventually found out.

Wouldn't it make more sense to charge the defendant's father or even a law that would allow the Feds to bring criminal charges against state officials (and vise versa) who act criminally negligent regardless of intent?

I still see hate crime legislation as everybody is equal, but some are more equal than others. Instead of rooting out all corruption with-in the system, hate crime legislation seems to be about milking the system.

The idea of a protected class is abhorrent, especially when so many others are disenfranchised in matters that have nothing to do with race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender.
posted by quintessencesluglord at 7:53 PM on June 20, 2007


I don't agree with quintessencesluglord 100%, but s/he makes a couple of great points. Here's something:

9/11 was a terrible, terrible thing. The murder of this man is a terrible thing.

The fact that this man was murdered does not mean, of itself, either that the Feds have the Constitutional power to pass this law, or that it would be a wise law to pass even if they did -- any more than 9/11 meant, of itself, that the Executive has the power to do what it has done in prosecuting the "war on terror," or that it has in fact acted wisely in so prosecuting.

All I'm saying is that I think you've gotta try to take the long view with this kind of thing (and I'm definitely not saying I'm the one smart enough to come up with the right answer). Emotion is a great reason to sit up and take notice, but it's not a great reason on its own to pass bills (the next emotion-driven bill could be an *anti-gay* law - DOMA, anyone?).
posted by facetious at 8:47 PM on June 20, 2007


I've read this entire thread, and I still don't see anything that is even mildly persuasive in saying that harming someone for one reason is somehow "more bad" than harming someone for another reason.

"I stabbed that motherfucker because he was standing too close to me"

"I stabbed that faggot because he was standing too close to me"

How is one "worse" than the other? Both are equally absurd, frightening, and depressing. Both should be punished, in my opinion, via the death penalty, or at the very least, life with no chance of parole.

Consider the Virginia Tech shootings. That was clearly a "hate crime", but how in the world would you make any of those people protected classes? Are you going to add the rich, the successful, the well educated, to protected classes? It's impossible, yet in the videos the shooter left, it is clear this was a bias-motivated crime.

As I said before, there are no good reasons for assault and murder. Trying to make "worse" reasons is ridiculous.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:54 PM on June 20, 2007


If there were only one punishment for murder, Ynoxas, I would agree with you. But in this country, we can imprison for life or choose a death penalty (at least in some states, like mine) which is where the distinction comes into play.
posted by misha at 9:55 PM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


ynoxas:
I've read this entire thread, and I still don't see anything that is even mildly persuasive in saying that harming someone for one reason is somehow "more bad" than harming someone for another reason.

"I stabbed that motherfucker because he was standing too close to me"

"I stabbed that faggot because he was standing too close to me"



You're missing the basic logic. It's not "I stabbed that faggot because he was standing too close to me."

It's "I stabbed that faggot because he's a faggot."

The issue isn't when a gay person happens to be the victim of a crime; it's when the reason the person is the victim of a crime is *because* of their sexual orientation.

Because, the hidden message of terrorism in that statement, above ("I stabbed that faggot because he's a faggot") is (...and alla you other faggots better watch out!)

Yes, it's true: when a random murder happens in a neighborhood, people who are geographically near that neighborhood may feel alarmed. At the same time, there is no particular reason for them to believe that the same murderer is going to come back to the same neighborhood for another random murder. Or, if the murder that happened was because their neighbor's uncle's daughter got pregnant by the preacher's son, there is no reason for people in the general vicinity to feel that they are at any risk (unless they're related somehow to the neighbor or the uncle or the daughter or the preacher or his son). Well, any increased risk, at any rate. We all take a risk just by being alive and living in community.

When a bias-motivated murder happens in a neighborhood, anyone who matches the minority status of the victim has real reason to be terrified. The murder accomplishes two goals: death for the victim, and terrorization for those left in the wake. To me, that is a more serious crime. Of course, both murders are heinous. But bias-motivated murder has a longer, more nefarious effect for many.
posted by CitizenD at 10:28 PM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


quintessencesluglord: I still see hate crime legislation as everybody is equal, but some are more equal than others. Instead of rooting out all corruption with-in the system, hate crime legislation seems to be about milking the system.

The idea of a protected class is abhorrent, especially when so many others are disenfranchised in matters that have nothing to do with race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender.


This is probably the biggest misconception regarding civil rights laws, that they create some form of "protected classes," when in fact, the laws treat discrimination against white heterosexual Christian men as equally a violation.

facetious: The fact that this man was murdered does not mean, of itself, either that the Feds have the Constitutional power to pass this law, or that it would be a wise law to pass even if they did -- any more than 9/11 meant, of itself, that the Executive has the power to do what it has done in prosecuting the "war on terror," or that it has in fact acted wisely in so prosecuting.

Of course neither this case, nor the Matthew Shepherd case, give the Federal Congress the constitutional power to pass this law.

Congress was empowered to pass this law in 1868 when the 14th Amendment was ratified. At that point, the Federal Congress was explicitly charged with giving all persons under American jurisdiction the equal protection of law, even in cases where state governments decided otherwise. And the power of the Federal government to champion and protect the civil rights of people ignored by local and state governments has consistently held constitutional muster since the 14th was ratified.

If you think it is a bad idea for Congress to have the power to pass laws to enforce the civil rights protections granted by the 14th Amendment, then it seems the best thing for you to do would be to start a repeal campaign. Good luck with that.

CitizenD: Well, much of this has been focused on murder as a bias crime, when murder is not the only bias crime worth examining. As an example, it is possible that if people had taken Benjamin Smith seriously when he was engaged in vandalism, that perhaps we would have been better prepared for his infamous shooting spree.

Ynoxas: "I stabbed that motherfucker because he was standing too close to me"

"I stabbed that faggot because he was standing too close to me"


Well, I wouldn't take it as face value that the second is a hate crime. In both cases the victim was selected based on proximity. Hate crime enhancements require the intentional selection of a victim on the basis of race, religion, etc., etc.. It is interesting to note that the statute this bill seeks to amend also has provisions for crimes against the elderly including telemarketing fraud directed at the elderly.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:36 PM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


when a random murder happens in a neighborhood...

But few murders are "random." Even if we pretend that serial killers comprise a majority of homicides, those predators tend to prey on prostitutes, or young men, or single women — and their crimes instill just as much fear in their target demographics as murders of homosexuals.
posted by cribcage at 11:51 PM on June 20, 2007


Which, just so we know what we are talking about, Congress is using a 140 year old Constitutional mandate to update a 12-year old law that mostly provides for grant funds and expert assistance at the request of local jurisdictions. The bill actually places strong limits on the ability of the feds to grab jurisdiction.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:54 PM on June 20, 2007


the majority that elected Al Gore as President in 2000

Gore did not win a majority of votes cast. The popular vote is irrelevant, anyway.

And it's why I say his murder is an excellent example of the need for S1105 to be passed by the Senate. It took 10 days for Aaron's body to be discovered.

How long it took for his body to be discovered has absolutely zero bearing on whether S. 1105 should be passed. None at all.
posted by oaf at 1:10 AM on June 21, 2007


This is probably the biggest misconception regarding civil rights laws, that they create some form of "protected classes," when in fact, the laws treat discrimination against white heterosexual Christian men as equally a violation.

You’re being disingenuous. If specific criteria are denoted, it is a protected class. If this case were about a homeless man being murdered, those protections would not apply, nor would it be any less of an outrage.

If you think it is a bad idea for Congress to have the power to pass laws to enforce the civil rights protections granted by the 14th Amendment, then it seems the best thing for you to do would be to start a repeal campaign. Good luck with that.

It is possible to support protections of the 14th without supporting this law. This is akin to the “why do you hate America” logic. I'm not impressed.
posted by quintessencesluglord at 5:17 AM on June 21, 2007


quintessencesluglord: You’re being disingenuous. If specific criteria are denoted, it is a protected class. If this case were about a homeless man being murdered, those protections would not apply, nor would it be any less of an outrage.

Not really. As I previously noted, sexual harassment laws protect all people from sexual harassment, including men. The definition of a hate crime does not protect specific classes of people, it says that IF you are targeted on the basis of race, religion, etc., etc., the crime is eligible for penalty enhancement.

To some degree, this speaks to premeditation. Benjamin Smith didn't fire randomly into a crowd on a corner of Main Street, he specifically prowled locations where he could target members of the "mud races." And by all means, I would certainly favor a bill that provides funding and assistance to jurisdictions attempting to apprehend and prosecute the people who prey on the homeless.

It is possible to support protections of the 14th without supporting this law. This is akin to the “why do you hate America” logic. I'm not impressed.

It is only appears kin to the "why do you hate America logic" if you are either 1) suffering from a basic deficiency in the ability to ready the English language or 2) engaged in a bad faith and dishonest argument.

I merely pointed out the fact that Congress was given explicit authority to address Civil Rights issues when the 14th Amendment was ratified 140 years ago. If you don't want for Congress to have this authority, you need to repeal the 14th amendment. Any other interpretations are up to you.

What remains is the question as to whether you feel laws should acknowledge that some types of crime violate the civil rights of the victim, in the same way that the laws recognize that some types of discrimination violate the civil rights of the targets of discrimination.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:50 AM on June 21, 2007


CitizenD: I see what you're saying. I guess in my mind it is that, with the exception of true psychopathic madmen, all murders are committed for "some" reason, however capricious. Killing someone because they are gay is terrible, but I can't get to the point that it is somehow "worse" than killing someone because they talked in a movie theater, or because they bumped against the person in a bar, or because they "looked funny", or because they asked their girlfriend to dance, or because they were wearing a hearing aid, or because they spoke a foreign language. All of that is "bias-motivated".

While few things can be boiled down to a bumper sticker, there is some truth in the "all crimes are hate crimes" motto.

kalessin: Support hate crime legislation or the terrorists have already won, eh?

I'm not sold on the terrorism angle, because as I tried to point out above, it is practically impossible to apply. Also note that terrorism doesn't really target a segment of the population, terrorism attacks an entire "people". Right now, the terrorists are not threatening whites or jews or christians, they are threatening AMERICANS of any stripe.

Terrorism does not parallel hate crimes as we are discussing here, because an entire population is the target, not segments.

By the reasoning applied in this thread, all rapes should also be prosecuted as hate crimes, since it unfairly targets whichever half of the population the rape was against. Grand theft auto should be a hate crime, because it unfairly targets those who own automobiles. Embezzlement should be a hate crime, as it unfairly targets the financially successful.

And again, I go to the Virginia Tech example. It is quite clear from the evidence left by the shooter himself, that he was consumed with hatred for those who were "different" from him. He "hated" spoiled rich kids, and he was intent on specifically targeting them and making them suffer.

Was it a hate crime? Absolutely. There is no way to deny it. However, legally, was it a "hate crime"? I don't know how you'd convince someone that rich kids, white people, and professors are a protected population.

If it had been a white kid who shot 20 students at Howard, it would have been a much different story.

KirkJobSluder: I think that certainly any violent crime violates the constitutional rights of the victim, regardless of who they are.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:10 AM on June 21, 2007


Ynoxas:
Terrorism does not parallel hate crimes as we are discussing here, because an entire population is the target, not segments.

But, again, that is the point. When a cuckolded man murders his wife's lover, the terror involved is localized.

When a gay person is murdered *because s/he is gay,* it rightfully terrorizes the entire gay population.

I'm not sure I agree with your definition of terrorism. Does a terrorist have to be non-American? Would you consider Timothy McVeigh (et. al.) a terrorist? Isn't a terrorist someone who simply plans/executes their crime in such a way that others -- outside of the immediate field of effect -- are terrorized by it?

Are anti-choice people who blow up abortion clinics terrorists? Are anti-growth people who burn million-dollar homes to the ground terrorists?

By the reasoning applied in this thread, *some* rapes *could* be prosecuted as hate crimes. If the rapist says or indicates "I'm raping you because you're a woman, and I want women to suffer," that could be argued to be a hate crime. IF the rapist says "I'm raping you because I need to feel powerful," that's not a hate crime. It's a hateful crime, of course.

You're right. The prosecution of such crimes becomes really complicated. I guess I just disagree with you -- just because it's complicated doesn't mean we should just drop it, IMO.

All I'm saying is this: hate crimes legislation already exists on the federal level. It includes race, religion and national origin. I believe that GLBT/gender identity and gender should be added to already-existing legislation.



oaf
Great way to partially quote me. Read the rest of the paragraph, perhaps it will make sense to you. In case you need help: there was a 10 day period beween Aaron's death and the discovery of his body. During that time, the defendants allegedly worked with local law enforcement to "cook up" the gay panic defense. Because of this allegation, the integrity of the local investigation has been compromised. Therefore, in my reasoning (altho this is an abbreviated version), Aaron's murder is a tragc example of why S1105 should be passed. The defendants opened the door to the question of a hate crime. The family of the victim needs outside assistance in the investigation. Were gays already included in existing federal hate crimes statutes, Aaron's family would have recourse. But, right now, they don't.

posted by CitizenD at 8:55 AM on June 21, 2007


Oops, sorry about that bolding there, Oaf.
posted by CitizenD at 8:56 AM on June 21, 2007


CitizenD: I think I should explain myself a bit by saying that since it already exists to include race, religion, and national origin, then I agree that it should be expanded to include GLBT.

I'm just questioning, in the big picture, if segmenting crimes into "hate crimes" and "hateful crimes" (great phrase) really makes any sense.

But it's not like I have any pity on someone who specifically targets a certain segment of the population. I'm a vengeful bastard. I'm basically for increasing sentences for all violent crimes across the board, and removing the concept of parole. And turning loose all the "war on drugs" federal prisoners to make room for the violent offenders. When I hear of someone doing 10 years for selling pot and then hear of a rapist getting parole in 4, I get a little pissed off.

But that's a discussion for another day.

And no of course terrorists don't have to be non-American. But our current worry is terrorists who are targeting America, and therefore Americans.

But I would say McVeigh was targeting "Americans" just as much as the 9/11 terrorists. His nationality was irrelevant.

I think you're trying to find a distinction where I am not intending one.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:10 AM on June 21, 2007


Ynoxas: That depends on an extremely short-sighted definition of terrorism which ignores, for example, the realities of terrorism in Nothern Ireland, Eastern Europe, and Israel. Not to mention the realities of terrorism in the United States where Black-majority churches, and abortion clinics have been prominent targets.

The elephant in the bedroom is that hate crime laws didn't just come out of thin air, but due to the persistance of organized supremacy groups that organize and insprie criminal activities across the entire spectrum from directed vandalism to arson, murder, and assasination. These crimes are intended to terrorize entire communities as targets. We know with the Benjamin Smith case that what intitally starts as a nusance may be the harbringer of future violence.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:16 AM on June 21, 2007


all murders are hate crimes, and murder is already against the law.
posted by bruce at 10:00 AM on June 21, 2007


But as it's been pointed out above, not all hate crimes are murder.
posted by quin at 10:06 AM on June 21, 2007


bruce: Certainly you are aware that most states have varying classifications of homicide to accomodate circumstances from the accidental and negligent, to the premeditated and brutal.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:29 AM on June 21, 2007


And in regards to VT, I don't think it really matters. If he had survived, there were more than enough aggravating factors to justify the harshest possible penalty.

What is key to the defense is the definition of murder vs. voluntary manslaughter according to the Indiana Code:
IC 35-42-1-3 (b) The existence of sudden heat is a mitigating factor that reduces what otherwise would be murder under section 1(1) of this chapter to voluntary manslaughter.
The difference comes in regards to the sentencing. The minimum for murder (IC 35-50-2) is 45 with no possibility of suspension, and eligibility for the death penalty. Voluntary manslaughter is a class B with a 6-20 term with the possibility of the whole shebang suspended.

Of course, I'm not about to buy a "sudden heat" defense either. But even if the "sudden heat" defense fails, the defense is setting the groundwork for one of the mitigating factors listed in section 9 of the second link. (The second link is a worthwhile read for the variety of mitigating and aggravating factors that can be introduced into court.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:16 AM on June 21, 2007


“So, under federal hate crime laws, what charges different from state criminal offense charges can be brought by the feds for cross burning?”

Intimidation. Plus you can bring a lawsuit in some states.
Virginia v. Black (google it) would pretty much dispel the “extra-baggage” notion around hate crime law. Essentially - without the intent to intimidate, burning a cross is A-ok.
If you are on your property far away from folks who don’t share your ideology and you want to fry up a cross - have at it.
Put it on someone’s lawn and you have problems and the state has the right to protect public safety.
Put another way, I have black friends. If I’m driving by some patch of land in the middle of nowhere and I see a Klan rally off behind some guy’s house and they’re burning a cross, I might call the cops, but I’m going to keep driving. If I’m sitting at my buddy’s house and someone lights a cross on his lawn I’m going to go and seriously fuck those people up. Those people probably have friends and family and might have issues with me and my pal putting hurt all over them. And that starts to be a whole mess that can be avoided by criminalizing certain well-known and observed methods of intimidation.
Much like ‘fighting words.’ Although that’s not a new view, I understand Rehnquist said something similar.

I do have free speech issues with hate crime legislation, but ‘intent’ can be a pain in the ass to prove if it’s not otherwise pretty obvious. And typically it is - given that most crimes of this type are predicated on aggression toward whatever group. If you really hate gays and you really want to prove how anti-gay you are and how you are totally not gay and you go so far as to harm someone who is gay to prove it - what’s the point if people don’t know why you did it?

What’s being missed here (although it’s been said a number of ways) is that the objective in commission of most of these kinds of crimes is not the crime itself. The goal is the expression of the ideology, not the violence.
(Unlike us smedleymen who revel in pure violence for it’s own sake)
Now you might argue that I’m a worse person if I kill someone just because I’m such a bloodthirsty bastard as opposed to someone who kills someone to prove how disgusting homosexuals are.
But there are mechanisms within the law to address the former, not so much the latter.
And typically - and indeed throughout history - the latter have been much more the cause of real trouble.
I mean if I put my mind to it I could kill a hell of a lot of people, but really, it’s pain to keep everything secret, and I don’t have that kind of time. I’ve got the wife and kids and the job. At best I’d be a hobbyist. And that would limit overall how many people I could nail. Plus, I’m a purist. Just, y’know, the violence itself. Whereas people with REAL psychopathology get their gonads involved. They skin people, rape them, what not. They’re really into a whole other aspect of it which gives them a big, big edge numbers wise. Oh, I could raise a LOT more hell if I wanted to, but as I said - not at all motivated.
My opposite - a person with lots of motivation but no aptitude for violence - tends to be the real troublemakers. They tend to be introverted and express their bloodlust vicariously, socially, etc.
Certainly there are the obsessive types who cause social trouble (robber baron types come to mind) but really it’s the rabblerousers who start the truly big snowballs.
It’s cliched, but, Hitler (most certainly apt given the ideology of racial purity).
One could argue anyone with enough political power can be a real pain, and indeed, that’s true. But again - the dichotomy is between the violence itself and the violence done to serve a further goal.

That further goal must be recognized by the state otherwise there is no crime for which any motive can either mitigate or aggravate.
And, less simply, if that further goal has a social component which could lead to futher violence that too must be addressed.
Otherwise you get race riots, feuds, revenge killings, etc. etc. without any way to address the roots of the problem because the violence or crime itself is merely a symptom or tool.


“We deny the snobbish English assumption that the uneducated are the dangerous criminals. We remember the Roman Emperors. We remember the great poisoning princes of the Renaissance. We say that the most dangerous criminal is the educated criminal. We say that the most dangerous criminal is the entirely lawless modern philosopher. Compared to him, burglars and bigamists are essentially moral people, and my heart goes out to them.” - The Policeman in “The Man Who Was Thursday”
posted by Smedleyman at 3:59 PM on June 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


KirkJobSluder-

3) Don’t believe Congress is addressing the protection issues of the 14th.

Do atheists or agnostics have protections for their beliefs? How about those who practice religions not recognized by the state? I reiterate: it is a protected class.

Section. 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

There is nothing in the amendment that states these protections should only apply in cases of race, religion, gender, etc.

Nor do any of your arguments address advocating for laws that would applicable to all instead of piecemealing the protections in what could be construed as a rather discriminatory way.

Smedleyman
-

That further goal must be recognized by the state otherwise there is no crime for which any motive can either mitigate or aggravate.
And, less simply, if that further goal has a social component which could lead to futher violence that too must be addressed.
Otherwise you get race riots, feuds, revenge killings, etc. etc. without any way to address the roots of the problem because the violence or crime itself is merely a symptom or tool.


Generally, dealing with social components at the case level is more akin to revenge because you did not like the motive for the crime. I’d rather deal exclusively with the criminal component and leave the thought police at the door.
posted by quintessencesluglord at 6:33 AM on June 22, 2007


quintessencesluglord: 3) Don’t believe Congress is addressing the protection issues of the 14th.

You can agree or disagree in regards to whether this law addresses the protection issues of the 14th. That fails to put the argument into the same family as "why do you hate America?"

Now, personally I find it hard to accept the argument that Congress is empowered to pass similar legislation in regards to education, housing, and employment, but is not empowered to do so in regards to criminal law.

qs: Do atheists or agnostics have protections for their beliefs? How about those who practice religions not recognized by the state? I reiterate: it is a protected class.

The answer is yes, and yes. Prior case law has clearly established that in regards to Civil Rights law, "religion" is to be interpreted as broadly as is reasonable. You can reiterate a false statement until your are blue in the face. It doesn't automatically become a fact on the 100th retelling.

qs: There is nothing in the amendment that states these protections should only apply in cases of race, religion, gender, etc.

Which is ignoring the elephant in the bedroom of discrimination. The 14th amendment was specifically ratified to address systematic inequalities on the basis of race.

The fact of the matter is, these arguments have been brought before the Supreme Court of the United States and have been found to be uncompelling. Sentence enhancement for hate crimes was specifically upheld in Wisconsin v. Mitchell in a decision penned by Rhenquist. Wisc. v. Mitchell should address your other concern in that it involved hate crime penalty enhancement for a black defendant who targeted and killed a white victim. The compatibility of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the 14th Amendment has also been consistently upheld over the last 40 years, with the Supreme Court affirming the authority of governments to act in order to address inequality: "Government may take race into account when it acts not to demean or insult any racial group, but to remedy disadvantages cast on minorities by past racial prejudice, at least when appropriate findings have been made by judicial, legislative, or administrative bodies with competence to act in this area. (University of California vs. Bakke)" And of course, Brown v. Board of education is a pivotal case for finding that discrimination is a Civil Rights issue mandating a response.

Why is Brown v. Board and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 relevant here? The Civil Rights Act of 1964 uses some focused language to define discrimination. The hate crimes provision of the 1994 crime act uses parallel language to define criteria for sentence enhancement.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:59 AM on June 22, 2007


The answer is yes, and yes. Prior case law has clearly established that in regards to Civil Rights law, "religion" is to be interpreted as broadly as is reasonable. You can reiterate a false statement until your are blue in the face. It doesn't automatically become a fact on the 100th retelling.

Um, no. Satanism has only been recently been regarded as a religion as it applies to Civil Rights of prisoners. The jury is still out on Pastifarianism and other religions. It is mandated that the religion has to be Federally recognized specific to Civil Rights of prisoners, which in itself means a protected class. Not to mention initially, sexual discrimination laws were the exclusive domain of women, and only recently have been prosecuted equally at the Federal level. That is a protect class. The laws have only recently been amended to apply somewhat more broadly (I note transgender folks are not mentioned), and it is uncertain if equal protections will apply. False statement indeed.

Which is ignoring the elephant in the bedroom of discrimination. The 14th amendment was specifically ratified to address systematic inequalities on the basis of race.

If it is specific to race, then why is sexual orientation being discussed at all? Why wasn’t race specified?

Further, citing case law does little to sway me if I disagree with the case law. There is a world of difference between does the government have the authority, should the government have the authority, and even moreso in how the law should address these issues, instead of giving cart blanch to the gov. to do as it please in the name of equal protection. Consistently ignoring this distinction puts you firmly in the pedigree of those who espouse the "why do hate America" meme when questioning what is done to combat terrorism. Presupposing the only recourse is to repeal the 14th is just a bit haughty and a bit dim.

None of your arguments address this distinction, and make some pretty gross assumptions otherwise (I fail to recall any argument I made on behalf of white men, yet you persist in bringing it up).

All in all, I give it a 5 just for the copious amounts of research you have done to support your claim, but you seem to be shadow boxing more than anything else.
posted by quintessencesluglord at 9:32 AM on June 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


qs: Um, no. Satanism has only been recently been regarded as a religion as it applies to Civil Rights of prisoners.

Well, the Civil Rights of prisoners is a an interesting area, and subject to a very different body of caselaw than applies to Civil Rights elsewhere. It's only been in recent years that the court has reversed previous rulings and established that prisoners have religious rights at all. Outside of the prison system, the definition of "what constitutes a religion" in regards to discrimination law boils down to, "anything that can be reasonably argued to be a religion, or serve the same functions as a religious organization."

Further, citing case law does little to sway me if I disagree with the case law. There is a world of difference between does the government have the authority, should the government have the authority, and even moreso in how the law should address these issues, instead of giving cart blanch to the gov. to do as it please in the name of equal protection. Consistently ignoring this distinction puts you firmly in the pedigree of those who espouse the "why do hate America" meme when questioning what is done to combat terrorism. Presupposing the only recourse is to repeal the 14th is just a bit haughty and a bit dim.

Well, my comments (in spite of your insistance on taking them out of context) have been focused on does the government have the authority. I have not devoted much attention to "should the government have this authority," which is an entirely different argument. And I don't think I've said much at all regarding how the law should address these issues.

Does the government have the authority to invoke hate crimes legislation? The answer is a clear yes. Penalty enhancement does not violate any constitutional rights of the defendant, and Congress was given a clear mandate to address inequalities with the 14th Amendment.

Should it? Well, I have to agree with the decision of Brown v. Board of Education that systematic forms of discrimination ultimately create conditions that violate the equal protection of law granted by the 14th amendment.

Is this law the best way to go about it? Well, contrary to yet another false claim, the 1994 crime act isn't a blank check. The Federal Government can only assume jurisdiction if it 1) is already a federal matter (interstate), 2) it is asked to do so by state or local governments, 3) there is a strong reason to suspect that the crime was mishandled. Otherwise the bill allows the government to offer money and support, if asked by the local jurisdiction.

Of course, none of these arguments are at all kin to "why do you hate America." "Why do you hate America" is an ad hom. attack about emotion and motive. I've tried not to speculate about your emotion or motive, only to point out the repeated falsehoods in your argument, vs. the realities of hate crime law and the 1994 crime act in particular.

qs: None of your arguments address this distinction, and make some pretty gross assumptions otherwise (I fail to recall any argument I made on behalf of white men, yet you persist in bringing it up).

It goes back to your argument about a protected class. That is, hate crimes law automatically mean that a crime against a black victim is evaluated more harshly than a crime against a white person.

But this is clearly not the case, because the sentence enhancement provisions of hate crime laws focus on a characteristic of the act, not on the status of the victim. Hate crime laws would permit prosecutors to enter evidence of bias when making an argument for life without parole vs. a 55 year advisory sentence for example.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:27 AM on June 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


“I’d rather deal exclusively with the criminal component and leave the thought police at the door.” - posted by quintessencesluglord

I agree. But it has to be addressed somehow. Right now this is it. Don’t have to like it. And it can be changed. Hopefully to something better. But as I alluded to - there are worse elements than mere criminals.

“That's partly what protective legislation is for - to "prove" that the governing bodies don't support that kind of bias-originated crime.” - kalessin

That should be subject to self-regulation. Obvious and visible self-regulation with oversight. *Should* Although how to make sure that occurs is a tough one. I can’t really contest the point.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:04 PM on June 25, 2007


That should be subject to self-regulation. Obvious and visible self-regulation with oversight.

Provided by who? The bodies themselves don't always investigate or care or pursue bias crimes. Self-regulation is not what our govt does, or is supposed to do--we have checks and balances and protections and legislation precisely because self-regulation doesn't work (see the Executive branch for many many major ongoing examples).
posted by amberglow at 9:08 AM on June 26, 2007


"Self-regulation is not what our govt does, or is supposed to do"

Well, on the smaller level you have internal affairs and other such systems in place. But broadly speaking I agree. I don't know how it could be done.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:17 AM on June 27, 2007


those systems are mostly jokes, as we see both locally and federally--especially when it comes to cops.

It has to be outside/independent oversight for everything. The bias crimes addition would provide for that, because for the first time, it'd be recorded/assessed nationally and there'd be non-internal recourse/aid/oversight/etc should it be necessary.
posted by amberglow at 2:55 PM on June 28, 2007




« Older Voice Pitch, Hair Whorl, Ring Finger Length   |   The Library Of Unified Information Sources (LOUIS) Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments