"a hoax that that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills."
April 30, 2009 10:09 AM   Subscribe

"a hoax that that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills." - Despite some vile rhetoric from North Carolina calling his death a hoax, the memory of Matthew Shepard was honored yesterday by passage of a Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Bill in the House.

Matt's mom was in the gallery while the Rep from North Carolina called his murder a hoax. Obviously many are calling for an apology from the Rep Foxx. More info on how to get involved or learn back story
posted by spicynuts (158 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I support the bill, but isn't this rather a lot of editorializing for an FPP?
posted by ocherdraco at 10:12 AM on April 30, 2009


I support the bill, but isn't this rather a lot of editorializing for an FPP?

I'd say no. No opinion was given on the hoax story, nor on the underlying bill.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:15 AM on April 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


Keith Olbermann mentioned this last night--I wasn't really paying attention, but Rep. Foxx, if memory serves, is the worst person in the world.
posted by box at 10:15 AM on April 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews go off on GOP rep who called Matthew Shepard murder "a hoax." *
posted by ericb at 10:15 AM on April 30, 2009


Reading the quoted text of the rhetoric link, I get the impression that the Representative was referring to the portrayal of his murder as a hate crime rather than as incident to a robbery as a hoax, rather than the fact of murder as such as a hoax. I don't think she's factually correct about it, and I don't think that distinction absolves her of saying some rather distasteful things, but I think HRW deliberately misread what she said to make it out to be worse - and I think you picked that up in editorializing.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:16 AM on April 30, 2009


Where is the editorializing? Honestly, I will gladly ask mods to re-write if you specify. We've got one quote there, we've got an adjective describing the content of the speech, so ok that is subjective, but the rest is fact. Is it because I used the word 'honored'?
posted by spicynuts at 10:18 AM on April 30, 2009


Rep. Virginia Backtracks on Matthew Shepard 'Hoax' Remarks
"It has come to my attention that some people have been led to believe that I think the terrible crimes that led to Matthew Shepard's death in 1998 were a hoax. The term 'hoax' was a poor choice of words used in the discussion of the hate crimes bill. Mr. Shepard's death was nothing less than a tragedy and those responsible for his death certainly deserved the punishment they received. The larger context of my remarks is important. I was referring to a 2004 ABC 20/20 report on Mr. Shepard's death. The 20/20 report questioned the motivation of those responsible for Mr. Shepard's death. Referencing this media account may have been a mistake, but if so it was a mistake based on what I believed were reliable accounts."
posted by ericb at 10:18 AM on April 30, 2009


Hate is a fairly strong word, and with that in mind, I hate anti-gay people.

I hope I'm the first to spit on Fred Phelps's grave when he dies. I'm already planning a trip sometime to Arlington National Cemetery to spit on the grave of William Jennings Bryan, who started the whole fundie mess.

It is entirely beyond me and beyond the realm of logic why anyone would hate another human being simply because they didn't want to fuck the opposite sex.
posted by kldickson at 10:19 AM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hmmm..ok, I can ask mods to remove 'vile'.
posted by spicynuts at 10:19 AM on April 30, 2009


Editorializing in bold:

Despite some vile rhetoric from North Carolina

Obviously many are calling for an apology from the Rep Foxx.


I'm an HRC member myself (and agree with the opinion expressed), but y'know, still, editorializing is editorializing.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:20 AM on April 30, 2009


Just so we're clear, if I kill someone who isn't a minority, is it a "dislike crime" or a "loathe crime"?
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 10:23 AM on April 30, 2009


It's only editorializing if there are two legitimate sides on a controversial topic.
posted by DU at 10:24 AM on April 30, 2009 [7 favorites]


I really think the idea of hate crimes legislation is, itself, vile. We should punish actions, not opinions, and we shouldn't exalt particular segments of society as being more worthy of protection and retribution if they're attacked.

Punishing people for their opinion is just as evil as hurting them because they're black.
posted by Malor at 10:25 AM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can the "is it or is it not editorializing" discussion either stop or go to MeTa? Please. Thank you.
posted by rtha at 10:26 AM on April 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Let's not hold the whole state accountable for the vile rhetoric. There are plenty of North Carolinians what know damn well that Virginia Foxx is total fucking scum.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 10:27 AM on April 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


Previous thread on Matthew Shepard and discussion about hate crime legislation.
posted by ericb at 10:27 AM on April 30, 2009


Please, somebody tell me where I can drop $10 into a pot to support Rep. Foxx's next re-election challenger.
posted by Mur at 10:28 AM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]




I think hate crime laws are meaningful. You throw a rock through a window, it's not the end of the world. You throw a bunch of rock through synagogue windows because you're a neo-nazi, you know what - you deserve a hell of a lot harsher punishment. We can't let people play games with the system because that's what they'll do to harass people they hate irrationally.

Having said that, hate crimes laws for murder are somewhat redundant as murder penalties are already plenty strong for the most part.
posted by GuyZero at 10:29 AM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Southern Republican legislator displays hateful insensitivity, you say?
posted by Joe Beese at 10:30 AM on April 30, 2009


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing:
"Look, if we separate actions from beliefs in the commission of a crime, then any form of discrimination can be easily decriminalized. I didn't hire him because he was black/gay/Unitarian/disabled. So? Those are my beliefs, right? You can't criminalize them.

We have these laws in place for a reason. A murder or a beating does not have the same societal impact that a murder or a beating based on a person's gender, race, religion or sexual orientation does. A murder in a small town makes everyone feel vulnerable - the murder of a gay man in a small town, for being gay, makes the gay people in that town targetted in particular. It is, for all intents and purposes, a broader violation of the civil rights of a minority that has effects that apply throughout the community. Wisconsin v. Mitchell has stood by this. Your right to free speech and free expression are not infringed by hate crime laws."
posted by ericb at 10:31 AM on April 30, 2009 [13 favorites]


Just so we're clear, if I kill someone who isn't a minority, is it a "dislike crime" or a "loathe crime"?
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 10:23 AM on April 30


And while I'm at it, why can't white people use the n-word?! They can use it, why can't I?! Reverse racism! How come there's no White History Month!? This is an outrage!

Idiot.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:33 AM on April 30, 2009 [15 favorites]


Just so we're clear, if I kill someone who isn't a minority, is it a "dislike crime" or a "loathe crime"?

I don't understand the question, unless it's purpose was to mock the concept of hate crimes, in which case, rather than resort to obtuse mockery, I would ask that you state your case plainly. A lot of people are of the opinion that legislation like this correctly recognizes intent when it comes to committing a crime, and severity of intent, and that a crime of passion against one person, while being a terrible act that deserves punishment, is not precisely the same as a crime that is intended to express contempt for an entire class of people, and terrify those people as a class.

Feel free to express an opposing opinion, but please recognize that the people who support hate crime legislation are doing so out of concern for groups of people who have a long history of being absued as a class, and therefore it might be a better policy to disgree with them without mocking them.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:34 AM on April 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Malor: I think the reason for hate crime legislation is because, as history shows, there have been times in our past when beating up a queer was sport because his sexuality made him a target. Or when intimidating a black family by harassing them in their house was sport, because their race made them a target. And during those times in our history, these obvious crimes were overlooked, because the victims were not regarded by the general populace as being fully human or fully equal under the law or fully deserving of protection... or something equally awful to think about a fellow human being.

So, we put in place even stronger laws which said, treating members of these underclasses as less than human is loathsome even above and beyond other crimes, because it speaks to a social attitude we are seeking to stamp out within our greater culture: that of tolerance toward the abuse of underclass members as sport because of attitudes that they are somehow less than human.

Yes, people need to be brought up on charges for all crimes. But just as we recognize the difference between unintentional vehicular manslaughter and premeditated murder, so we also recognize the difference when someone allows outdated and wrong conceptions about the worth of fellow citizens when weighing their crimes.
posted by hippybear at 10:35 AM on April 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


It's also worth noting the wording of the law:

The LLEHCPA gives the Justice Department the power to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence where the perpetrator has selected the victim because of the person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

It is entirely possible to prosecute someone for an attack on a white person, or a Christian, or a man, because they hate those people as a class. One does not need to be a minority to be protected by this law.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:38 AM on April 30, 2009 [6 favorites]


When I was in 7th or 8th grade (around the time of the hostage crisis), the older brother of a kid in my class went with a couple of his friends and found a college student who looked to them like an Iranian (I don't remember if he was or not). They beat him up. They killed him.

They looked specifically for someone who looked "Middle Eastern" to do this to, and if you imagine that other Middle-Eastern-looking folks didn't understand the message, well, you're wrong.

Hate crimes are not about expressing one's opinion and being punished for that. People who commit hate crimes do so not because they need money from their victim, or because the victim slept with their wife or husband, or because the victim fired them from a job. They commit hate crimes with an aim to terrororize (yes, I use the word deliberately) the population represented by their victim. There should absolutely be enhanced penalties for such crimes.
posted by rtha at 10:38 AM on April 30, 2009 [17 favorites]


It's dumb enough to think that crimes with particularly odious motivations don't exist, but beyond that Foxx is even especially dumb and offensive. His murder is "a hoax"?? Cripes.
posted by DU at 10:43 AM on April 30, 2009


Ok. To clarify my point:

Hate crime legislation, in my opinion, is adding fuel to the fire. I think racism/prejudice will be brought up to establish motive, recognize if there was intent, and will be considered during the sentencing process.

What is the idea of hate crime legislation? To prevent hate crimes. To prevent Bubba J. Skinhead from stomping some black homosexual with an overbite for no good reason.

NEWSFLASH: He'll do it anyway. And he'll use this legislation to further his delusions of "the straight white man is losing his place in the country."

Also, hang out at a country club bar at 11pm or so and listen to the conversations. Racism and prejudice is lurking beneath the surface of those who are in seats of influence... I ASSURE YOU. This legislation is also a semantic tool. Put a dead gay guy on the front page of a newspaper and call it a hate crime. Well, no shit... all crimes are hate crimes. The subtext? "Come out of the closet, and someone will stomp your ass."

Trust me, that's what they're doing.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 10:45 AM on April 30, 2009


I was going to respond to Malor, but it ericb beat me to it. Yeah, you can still spout whatever anti-gay rhetoric you want, all the time. Your right to expression is not curtailed by hate crime laws. Unless you want to express yourself with a tire iron.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:45 AM on April 30, 2009


NEWSFLASH: He'll do it anyway.

NEWSFLASH: Crimes happen despite laws against them.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:46 AM on April 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


all VIOLENT crimes are hate crimes
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 10:46 AM on April 30, 2009


What is the idea of hate crime legislation? To prevent hate crimes.

I'm not sure that this is the case, any more than prosecuting for murder one is intended to encourage people not to premeditate.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:47 AM on April 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


This is awkward because we're going to have cross-thread pollenation, but I have to say that I don't agree with hate crime legislation. I don't agree with the notion of "oh, and by the way, since you did it specifically because you hate Jews, you get 5 extra years."

If someone murders someone in cold blood, it doesn't really matter why. Torture? Rape? They're all abominable crimes and should be punished because someone did something unforgivable to someone else. It's no less of a crime if they did it because they're a serial killer instead of a racist!

The example of Neo-Nazis throwing rocks through synagogue windows? There are plenty of laws already on the books regarding property damage, assault, and threatening people and making them afraid for their safety. I don't sympathize with the Neo-Nazis at all, but if a similar group of young hooligans were harassing a community center for the elderly, I'd want them to get the same punishment.

I totally believe in gauging intent, and understand the difference between manslaughter and murder, etc. Use the evidence of hatred to prove malice, intent, and pre-meditation. Don't use it as a tack-on additional penalty for "inappropriate opinions while committing a heinous crime." Even our worst criminals still deserve the right to have the most inappropriate opinions. Punish only that they acted on these opinions, not the opinions themselves.
posted by explosion at 10:48 AM on April 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


all VIOLENT crimes are hate crimes

Are you serious? That's not even true outside of the technical definition of "hate crime".
posted by DU at 10:48 AM on April 30, 2009


all VIOLENT crimes are hate crimes

Not in the way that "hate" is being used here. They may be hate crimes because, presumably, hurting someone is a hateful act, but in this instance we are discussing hate in terms of having a specific antipathy for a class of people. Conflating the two might sound like a good argument against hate crime legislation, but doesn't really make sense to me. It's a bit like saying "All crimes are murders, because, when you steal a hot dog, you are mudering somebody's profit margins!"
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:49 AM on April 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


One does not need to be a minority to be protected by this law.

Exactly.

From the 1969 hate crime legislation that is already in place:
"...it [is] unlawful to willfully injure, intimidate or interfere with any person, or to attempt to do so, by force or threat of force, because of that other person's race, color, religion or national origin..."
The current bill seeks to amend the 1969 legislation.
"Gender, disability and sexual orientation would become additional protected classifications [added to those classes already covered -- race, color, religion or national origin].

The six federally protected activities would be deleted. A victim would be protected by the law at all times, not just when they were doing specific activities, like being at work, voting, or attending a public school."
The scope of the law would include:
"Both men and women would be protected if the assault or threat of assault was gender-based.

Quadriplegics, paraplegics, and persons who are blind, deaf etc. would be protected from attacks from individuals because of their disability.

Heterosexuals, gays, lesbians, and bisexuals would all be protected from crimes motivated by hatred of sexual orientation."
posted by ericb at 10:50 AM on April 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


all VIOLENT crimes are hate crimes

Bob, the problem is this: some random person gets beaten to death in a town, the whole town feels threatened. A black man gets dragged to death in Jasper, Texas by Klansmen, it's the black people in particular who are going to be in a heightened state of fear. That's what a hate crime law is supposed to address: the violation of the civil rights of others.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:50 AM on April 30, 2009 [5 favorites]


NEWSFLASH: He'll do it anyway.

Possibly, but this bill will help ensure that the corrupt, homophobic and/or racist local authorities won't be allowed to let him get away with it.
posted by rocket88 at 10:52 AM on April 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


When I was in college, there were a few race-related hate crimes committed. The administration decided to put signs up in a few places on campus that said "Hate crime is illegal."

Whenever I found one of these signs, I changed them to "Hate All crime is illegal."
posted by educatedslacker at 10:53 AM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


NEWSFLASH: He'll do it anyway. And he'll use this legislation to further his delusions of "the straight white man is losing his place in the country."

We should tailor our laws to fit the ideals of loonly people? No.

If someone murders someone in cold blood, it doesn't really matter why.

Ask the Hispanic community on Long Island if it "doesn't matter why" these kids beat up and shot (and killed one) Hispanic men.
posted by rtha at 10:55 AM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Loony people. Loony.
posted by rtha at 10:55 AM on April 30, 2009


"...The 20/20 report questioned the motivation of those responsible for Mr. Shepard's death. Referencing this media account may have been a mistake, but if so it was a mistake based on what I believed were reliable accounts."

This politician knows her constituencybase and this crass outburst will help her get re-elected by those that will lap this up.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:56 AM on April 30, 2009


Ah, look at all the loonly people.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:56 AM on April 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


Thank you for posting this. I've been discussing this with friends and family all day.

I personally feel better knowing that in some places there is a component to the law that allows for greater scrutiny of crimes in which a person is targeted specifically because of race/religion/sexual orientation/etc.

It's worth noting that in the Shepard case the attackers unsuccessfully invoked the "Gay Panic Defense," claiming that Shepard's advances sent them both into fits of violent temporary insanity, meaning they weren't responsible for his robbery, torture and murder. In a world where that defense remains even a remote possibility, I'm grateful for whatever hate-crime laws we can manage to force into existence.
posted by hermitosis at 10:57 AM on April 30, 2009


A black man gets dragged to death in Jasper, Texas by Klansmen, it's the black people in particular who are going to be in a heightened state of fear.

And they'll be comforted when you say "Don't worry, we have a law against the sort of thing that .... already... happened."?

And the jury of their peers will have black people on it? You think the defense would allow that?

I'm not saying this law does any harm, I'm just saying it doesn't do an ounce worth of good outside of political posturing.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 10:59 AM on April 30, 2009


Punishing people for their opinion is just as evil as hurting them because they're black.

One could argue that they're being punished for expressing their opinion in a criminal way.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:59 AM on April 30, 2009


Ask the Hispanic community on Long Island ...

Or the Sucuzhañay family. Their son, Jose, a straight, Ecuadorian man, was walking arm-in-arm with his brother last December. He was beaten to death by a baseball bat attack in Brooklyn. The perpetrators thought the brothers were gay and yelled "ugly, anti-gay and anti-Latino" slurs at them while they pursued and beat them.
posted by ericb at 11:00 AM on April 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


What is the idea of hate crime legislation? To prevent hate crimes.

I think hate crimes legislation is motivated by the need to better couple the the severity of or harm caused to society by a crime to the tools and options available to criminal justice system. But to say more might be feeding a troll.
posted by peeedro at 11:00 AM on April 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Punishing people for their opinion is just as evil as hurting them because they're black.

Yes. Fortunately, this law punishes people for their behavior.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:01 AM on April 30, 2009


And the jury of their peers will have black people on it? You think the defense would allow that?

I don't think it's legal to excuse a potential juror based on their race.
posted by peeedro at 11:02 AM on April 30, 2009


And they'll be comforted when you say "Don't worry, we have a law against the sort of thing that .... already... happened."?

You seem to keep going back to the mistaken belief that laws are in place solely to prevent crime. I think peeedro makes a good point, too.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:02 AM on April 30, 2009


"We should punish actions, not opinions, and we shouldn't exalt particular segments of society as being more worthy of protection and retribution if they're attacked."

Good point. Sometimes people just blow stuff up or fly airplanes into buildings without intending some larger ideological message.

Speaking of ideology - Florida hasn't gotten around yet to criminalizing sex with animals. They're pretty gung ho down there about the whole gay thing down there for folks who don't have anything on the books about screwing pets. Just sayin'

And I don't know that it's editorializing to say 'vile.' It is what it is. Whether she's that stupid or knowingly miscasting the event (lying) for political - or whatever - reasons, pretty vile either way. It's not like the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National District Attorneys Association are some left-wing fringe outfits here. Might be a stretch (though apt) to call her a vile bitch, say, but that rhetoric, yeah, pretty vile.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:02 AM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


And they'll be comforted when you say "Don't worry, we have a law against the sort of thing that .... already... happened."?

Isn't that how all punishment works?

They'll be comforted when you say "Don't worry, not only will the murderer be punished, but we are adding some extra punishment for the fact that he also terrorized YOU."
posted by DU at 11:03 AM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I really think the idea of hate crimes legislation is, itself, vile. We should punish actions, not opinions, and we shouldn't exalt particular segments of society as being more worthy of protection and retribution if they're attacked.

Hate crime laws don't establish protected classes, which would be unconstitutional. But you knew that, right? You surely wouldn't comment if you weren't sufficiently well-educated on the topic to comment, right?
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:08 AM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


And they'll be comforted when you say "Don't worry, we have a law against the sort of thing that .... already... happened."?

You do realize that your argument works against...all...laws?
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:09 AM on April 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, people against hate crimes laws- you also want the elimination of manslaughter, right? Because intention shouldn't be an issue?
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:09 AM on April 30, 2009


So.... Just so we're clear...

Joe A kills a black dude and takes his wallet. Gets 10-20.

Joe B kills a black dude because he's a nutcase who hates blacks. Gets more than 10-20.


The idea of the legislation is to make black people feel safer. Right? If someone does something heinous to them because of their race, we will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law, and we've extended the extent for people like Joe B.

This only makes them feel better until they realize they're most likely carrying a wallet as we speak.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 11:10 AM on April 30, 2009


The idea of the legislation is to make black people feel safer. Right?

I don't think it is. Since your argument seems to be based on that presumption, would you miund sharing where any of the authors of this legislation have said that that's the reasoning behind it?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:12 AM on April 30, 2009


The point is that doing a worse thing gets you a harsher punishment.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:12 AM on April 30, 2009 [6 favorites]


And I am not sure how expanding the defintion of a hate crime to include sexual orientation is going to make black people feel safer, in general, although I will concede that some are probably gay.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:14 AM on April 30, 2009


The point is that doing a worse thing gets you a harsher punishment.

This seems to be what a lot of people aren't getting, which makes me wonder whether they really think crimes like these are any "worse." Which makes me wonder whether whether they've ever been the victims of prejudice or hatred, or are close to someone who has.
posted by hermitosis at 11:16 AM on April 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


I wish I had something else to offer to this discussion. I had never even thought about this being a point of contention within society. I mean, one side is "obviously right", and the other side is "obviously wrong", and it doesn't matter which side you're on that's how it is, and both of them are talking past each other, because there is just this BLIND SPOT where the entire idea is concerned. Fascinating.
posted by hippybear at 11:16 AM on April 30, 2009


The idea of the legislation is to make black people feel safer. Right?

To some extent, yes, in the sense that they can know that someone who specifically targets a black person because he is black will be punished for putting the entire black community in a heightened state of fear. But the main point of the legislation is to punish the person who has committed a crime not just against the person, but against his race - since it was both his person and his race that were targeted.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:16 AM on April 30, 2009


If someone does something heinous to them because of their race, we will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law, and we've extended the extent for people like Joe B.

You are kinda ill-informed.

This only makes them feel better until they realize they're most likely carrying a wallet as we speak.

And dumb.
posted by DU at 11:17 AM on April 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Noble intent, but how I dislike the method.

I do not think criminalizing (and I use that word to describe adding punishment) the internal states of people (someone else's "heightened state of fear" or an attacker's "hatred") will lead us to particularly great places. It has not before. A pointing finger is all we need to start off your basic witch trial, Red Scare, the endless abuses of the terrorism in the PATRIOT Act ("Hey, I felt terrorized!") etc.

When someone is put on trial for first degree murder, your basic pre-planned act in cold blood, a lot of work is done establishing that someone prepared the crime. "I feel" does not seem like solid evidence to me. Saying "that person felt" seems even worse. It's non-refutable. That scares me.

I'd be more open to the concept if the discussion on how people "feel," (as if a self-reported state isn't subject to all kinds of abuse) would move more towards falsifiable evidence.
posted by adipocere at 11:17 AM on April 30, 2009


A black man gets dragged to death in Jasper, Texas by Klansmen, it's the black people in particular who are going to be in a heightened state of fear.

It should be clear in the court case that follows that said crime was not a crime of passion, but pre-meditated and cold-blooded. The Klansmen will get life in prison.

My argument is that racial motivations should be used as evidence by the prosecution to prove malice and intent, and considered in proving that the higher-degree sentence is justified. It reaches the same end, really, but I'm uncomfortable with "violation of hate crime legislation" being a 5 (or whatever) year tack-on. It just doesn't seem to be right.

Hateful motivations are themselves significant evidence of crime, though, and should be considered as evidence. Neo-Nazis throwing rocks at a synagogue is more than just mischievous hooligans causing random property damage, and that can be proved.

Social change comes, slowly and surely, but hate crime legislations do nothing to educate people out of their hatred. All it really does is teach Klansmen and Neo-Nazis that they should refrain from yelling "fuck off and die, you fag nigger" while curb-stomping their latest victim.
posted by explosion at 11:18 AM on April 30, 2009


I believe, in order to establish that something is a hate crime, that the prosecution must demonstrate, beyond a reasonable doubt, that hate was a motivating factor in the attack, which is what must be done when a prosecutor establishes premeditation. You can't simply say "Well, he probably hated black people" and have it become a hate crime prosecution.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:20 AM on April 30, 2009


Where in the act does it say anything about harsher punishment? All I get from it is this:

The Act provides the DOJ with the ability to aid state and local jurisdictions either by lending assistance or, where local authorities are unwilling or unable to act, by taking the lead in investigations and prosecutions of bias-motivated, violent crimes resulting in death or serious bodily injury.

which means the feds can move in and take over an investigation from state or local investigators if the crime appears to be motivated by hate. It seems to be more about poor local policing than about harsher punishment.
posted by rocket88 at 11:21 AM on April 30, 2009


Can't seem to find the stats, but aren't hate crime convictions actually more successful procusting crimes against whites?

Also, the preemptive "[MeFi disapproved argument] in 5.. 4.. 3.." comment at the beginning of any thread annoys the shit out of me.
posted by FuManchu at 11:23 AM on April 30, 2009


What is the idea of hate crime legislation? To prevent hate crimes.
No, it's to put extra charges against the assholes who commit hate crimes. Because believe it or not, there IS a difference between burning poop on someones doorstep, and burning a cross on their lawn. And there is a difference between breaking windows from random vandalism, and trying to replicate Krystalnacht.

So we throw the assholes in prison for an extra long time to get them out of society, and also send a message to general society that this sort of action won't be tolerated. Because it's general society that needs to hear and process that message, not the hard-core haters. Give the message constantly that hate crimes are unacceptable, and hopefully the hard-core haters will be ever more isolated.
posted by happyroach at 11:23 AM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


be more about poor local policing than about harsher punishment.

Which is probably exactly why it is called The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
posted by spicynuts at 11:24 AM on April 30, 2009


I think it's also a matter of making it public record. If you were running background checks on potential employees, wouldn't you want to know about this? A "vandalism" conviction might seem fairly easily explained away if there was not also a distinction pointing out that the applicant had been swastika-ing synagogues.
posted by hermitosis at 11:25 AM on April 30, 2009


All it really does is teach Klansmen and Neo-Nazis that they should refrain from yelling "fuck off and die, you fag nigger" while curb-stomping their latest victim.

And you know what? That's light years from when good ol' boys used to pile into a pickup truck with baseball bats to go "chase down some darkies" who got into the wrong part of town, or maybe even who didn't. And if we have violence divorced from expression of racial or other bigotry, then our lives are all better for it.

It was that kind of activity... the "let's go wander down by the fag bars and beat up a couple of queers on the way home" kind of thing, which was also being largely ignored by local law enforcement, if not outright encouraged by them...

How else do you pass a law which says, "this behavior which was largely tolerated up until now will no longer be tolerated'? The laws in place were not sufficient as they were.
posted by hippybear at 11:26 AM on April 30, 2009


When someone is put on trial for first degree murder, your basic pre-planned act in cold blood, a lot of work is done establishing that someone prepared the crime. "I feel" does not seem like solid evidence to me. Saying "that person felt" seems even worse. It's non-refutable. That scares me.

I don't really see why it should scare you. In terms of the victim, many forms of sexual assault do no physical damage to another person, but the psychological damage is correctly used as a gauge for the severity of the crime. In the case of hate crimes, if for example you have a community where a black person is attacked for being black, then every black person in the community experiences the psychological damage of very correctly presuming they are specific targets for violence as well. In terms of the perpetrator, their intentions and motivations for their crime are often brought into play when it comes to the severity of the act. It's not really confined to hate crimes.

Social change comes, slowly and surely, but hate crime legislations do nothing to educate people out of their hatred.

You know, I don't really think hate crime legislation is meant to "teach" racists not to be racist. Education from early ages onwards can help shrink racism. Hate crime laws, like PG said, mean that if you do something worse, you get punished more.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:26 AM on April 30, 2009


“If someone murders someone in cold blood, it doesn't really matter why.”
Yes, it does. Motive is one of the determining factors in sentencing (in terms of the seriousness of the offense and public opinion). It’s just that a prosecutor doesn’t have to prove motive to get a conviction. And the proving of hate in a hate crime makes it more difficult to get a conviction because – instead of simply proving opportunity and means (the guy was there, he had a gun) – the suspects motive (that is – he did it because of the victims ethnicity, creed, sexual orientation, country of origin, etc. etc.) must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
It is MUCH easier for a prosecutor to just pursue the crime itself. Not to mention law enforcement must do a much more detailed investigation than on other cases.

peeedro has it.

There is recognition for crimes that do more damage to society and use threat to coerce a given perspective (for or against). This is why we recognize terrorism as an action unto itself. We don’t simply arrest terrorists for destroying a train station and murdering people, but we recognize the act itself has a symbolic meaning, implies more than just the murder at hand, that the terrorists intend.

The difference is that some perpetrators of hate crimes try to play dumb and pretend this doesn’t matter or they didn’t mean it that way.

This does not mean they’re not terrorists, it just means they’re cowards.

Furthermore, this gives law enforcement more tools to pursue groups that engage in this. Typically people who commit hate crimes are affiliated with a group or a loose confederation of like minded individuals. It’s important to recognize that – to recognize WHY someone murders someone else in cold blood – in order to prevent more killing. In order to stop the movement of a violent group in that direction. In fact I'd say it's critical, which is why law enforcement folks tend to back these sorts of laws even though it means extra work and possibly grief from a part of the community.

I’m typically pretty leery of glad-handing powers to law enforcement on almost any level, but this is a policy with which I find no fault.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:29 AM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just so we're clear, if I kill someone who isn't a minority, is it a "dislike crime" or a "loathe crime"?
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 10:23 AM on April 30 [+] [!]


Just so we're clear, if you kill someone with premeditation, isn't it just "involuntary manslaughter" rather than "first-degree murder"?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:30 AM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you do not see why non-refutable, one way "evidence" used in a court of law might scare me, I do not suppose we have anything to talk about regarding this topic.
posted by adipocere at 11:33 AM on April 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


When someone is put on trial for first degree murder, your basic pre-planned act in cold blood, a lot of work is done establishing that someone prepared the crime.

Not necessarily. In California, at least, the kind of intent needed for a first-degree murder charge can occur instantaneously, much like a spontaneous decision to blow through a stop sign. The prosecution doesn't need to prove that something was planned in advance, but merely that a decision was made prior to the act.
posted by malocchio at 11:37 AM on April 30, 2009


If you do not see why non-refutable, one way "evidence" used in a court of law might scare me, I do not suppose we have anything to talk about regarding this topic.

Come on, don't be like that. I don't understand why you single out hate crimes for special concern when it comes to how a perpetrator or victim "feels" about the crime. You say you want "the internal states of other people" left out of the equation. That, to me, covers a lot of ground, and would make a number of heinous acts perfectly legal.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:37 AM on April 30, 2009


If you do not see why non-refutable, one way "evidence" used in a court of law might scare me, I do not suppose we have anything to talk about regarding this topic.

I am not following why you believe that this evidence is not refustable. Can you point me to examples of hate crime prosecutions where convinctions were returned merely because the prosecutor insisted, without evidence, that it was a hate crime? Is that a common problem?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:38 AM on April 30, 2009


Saying "that person felt" seems even worse.

It's not what they "felt", it's what they expressed, in words and deeds. I can't see how using hate crimes laws to add punishment to someone who beat someone else to death with a baseball bat while screaming "Die you fucking [faggot] [beaner]" will lead to HUAC-style witch trials. Hate crimes enhancements aren't added as part of a guessing game ("Well, the perpetrator's of German descent, and the victim's mom is Jewish, so maybe he mugged him because he's Jewish! Yeah!") It's not as if people who commit hate crimes are supersekrit about their motives. The PATRIOT ACT hyperbole is....hyperbolic and inaccurate.
posted by rtha at 11:39 AM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I used to be strongly opposed to hate crimes legislation. I had a whole list of legal arguments against it, many of which I still think are strong arguments. I heard and read people argue that, if I and others opposed to such legislation were part of a group or status against whom hate crimes were directed, we would see the issue differently.

Then, just a few months ago, I saw a wave of pure hatred sweep across the country, the media, and elsewhere, directed at a group of which I belong, and which is protected under this bill. I saw and continue to see hatred of my status (regardless of whether I actually hold the hated opinion) not only prevalent, but actually lauded and applauded (even here on Metafilter).

Now I see the wisdom of hate crimes legislation. And I have changed my mind. I now support this legislation, and I'm glad it passed. When overwhelming public opinion in a given geographical area is biased against a certain group or status, there is a real risk that local law enforcement will place insufficient resources in investigating and prosecuting crimes motivated by hate of that group or status. The tide of public opinion against protected classes is nearly impossible to stop. And there is wisdom in empowering federal law enforcement to step in where local law enforcement may be siding with local beliefs regarding a protected class and failing to adequately protect the rights of that class.

And whether I or anyone else agrees with the lifestyle, beliefs, conduct, status, or anything else about a given protected class is irrelevant to the importance of the prevention and prosecution of crime. This bill is, in my opinion, intended to prevent bias in law enforcement, and not to make "hate crimes" "more criminal" than other crimes. And that is an important goal and one that everyone should be able to support, no matter how they may feel about any particular race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. Criminals should never get lighter treatment because the entire community they live in happens to agree with their hatred of the victim of their crime so that local law enforcement places less emphasis on investigation and prosecution.
posted by The World Famous at 11:45 AM on April 30, 2009 [11 favorites]


Thank you, The World Famous. Very well said.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:47 AM on April 30, 2009


Don't tease, TWF. Are you Alaskan, Texan, or Christian?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:49 AM on April 30, 2009


A 'hate crime' isn't just about the immediate targets of the crime.

A 'hate crime' is a crime committed against an individual member or members a group with the purpose of intimidating all the other members of the group.

It's not about 'criminalizing beliefs.'
posted by jfrancis at 11:54 AM on April 30, 2009


He's Canadian, I'll bet.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:56 AM on April 30, 2009


If someone does something heinous to them because of their race, we will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law, and we've extended the extent for people like Joe B.

You are kinda ill-informed.

This only makes them feel better until they realize they're most likely carrying a wallet as we speak.

And dumb.
posted by DU at 11:17 AM on April 30


I probably should be better informed about the legislation, because it does concern me.

Now, the previous sentence and all I've written up to this point will probably have a much different tone now that I've pointed out I'm mixed race, and a mulatto on my mother's (grandmother) side. Didn't think that mattered, but now I have a feeling it will.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 11:58 AM on April 30, 2009


The Act provides the DOJ with the ability to aid state and local jurisdictions either by lending assistance or, where local authorities are unwilling or unable to act, by taking the lead in investigations and prosecutions of bias-motivated, violent crimes resulting in death or serious bodily injury.

Repeating this for emphasis.

In the 60s, and the time period leading up to it, there was a good chance in the south that the local law enforcement was a member of or at least closely related to the Klan. Which is why when a civil rights activist went missing, the chances of ever finding a resolution or prosecuting the people in charge was slim to none, because they were usually connected to the people who would be doing the investigation.

Before any of this legislation existed, if the local community got together and did a good ole fashion lynching, chances are there was little if any legal consequences, since the law enforcement is part of said community.

I see this as saying "that as a human being living in the United States, I am guaranteed my civil rights by the federal government*, and they now have the legal ability to ensure that."

*And I say this as a straight white male.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:59 AM on April 30, 2009


Didn't think that mattered, but now I have a feeling it will.

Not to me. I don't judge your points on your race; merely on the quality of the case that you make. In fact, I have not seen any evidence that any of the criticisms of your comments are based on a perception of your race, but perhaps I have overlooked some.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:00 PM on April 30, 2009


Criminals should never get lighter treatment because the entire community they live in happens to agree with their hatred of the victim of their crime so that local law enforcement places less emphasis on investigation and prosecution.

Exactly. We should not forget that there are still many, many places in this country where the reaction of local law enforcement is "oh, the guy you just beat up is a faggot? Never mind, you're free to go. Have a nice day!"
posted by dnash at 12:07 PM on April 30, 2009


A key aspect of a hate crime is that is 'makes an example' of someone. It 'teaches a lesson' to a wider group.
posted by jfrancis at 12:09 PM on April 30, 2009


Then, just a few months ago, I saw a wave of pure hatred sweep across the country, the media, and elsewhere, directed at a group of which I belong, and which is protected under this bill.

I saw and continue to see hatred of my status (regardless of whether I actually hold the hated opinion) not only prevalent, but actually lauded and applauded (even here on Metafilter).


Wow.

Members of your "group" were refused jobs, not allowed to get married, refused visitation and estate rights, beaten up, murdered, etc.?

Pray tell, what group do you belong to that has suffered such wrath in the last few months, and all of that here on Metafilter?

I'm genuinely curious.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:10 PM on April 30, 2009


Socialists?
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:13 PM on April 30, 2009


Then, just a few months ago, I saw a wave of pure hatred sweep across the country, the media, and elsewhere, directed at a group of which I belong, and which is protected under this bill. I saw and continue to see hatred of my status (regardless of whether I actually hold the hated opinion) not only prevalent, but actually lauded and applauded (even here on Metafilter).

So you're a banker?
posted by adamdschneider at 12:13 PM on April 30, 2009 [8 favorites]


To say hate crime laws criminalize beliefs is to say that consideration of intent has no place in criminal law. To apply this maxim consistently would have radical consequences for the entire application of criminal justice. On the other hand, hate crime laws follow directly from legal distinctions between crimes like involuntary manslaughter and first degree murder.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:14 PM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Google image search for "Southern trees bear strange fruit".

Notice the people posing with the bodies? They are purely showing off to enforce the idea that they are in control. These aren't "morning after, oh god what just happened photos" these are "look at what we did!" photos.

Until the hate crime laws were passed, there was really no way to bring those individuals to justice. Who was going to prosecute them? And even if they did go to court, the jury would be made up of 'peers' who probably were there celebrating with them, just managed to not get caught on camera.

I see this new legislation as acknowledging that these situations just don't happen along racial lines, but that in fact we need a way to protect everyone, even if the local law enforcement doesn't want to get involved.
posted by mrzarquon at 12:20 PM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]




How do you define 'belief' and how do you define 'action'? At what point do they get separated from each other?

Two people go to DC with firearms with permits. The first has a history of radical statements against the and even made threats against the President's life and the other has not. Should they be treated differently if they are pulled over and searched?

Two adults aged 25 have sex with someone else. The first with a 13 year old the second with a 20 year old because they both felt the person was old enough. Should they be treated differently?

Two people are driving and hit someone on the street; the first person knew the person they hit and was aware that their Significant Other had cheated on them with the person they hit while the second person did not know the person they hit. Should they be treated differently?
posted by Green With You at 12:23 PM on April 30, 2009


Is there an answer other than "yes" that you are looking for, Green With You? I am having trouble teasing out your point, although, perhaps, getting an answer of yes is your point.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:25 PM on April 30, 2009


Yeah, "hate crime" laws are pretty uncontroversial. The law has always looked to motive and intent when assessing the kind and severity of punishment to inflict on a criminal. I suppose the heated opposition is because the label "hate crime" is commonly invoked in situations like Matthew Shepard's, which in turn brings up notions of "special rights" for certain minority groups (see Colorado's ballot initiative to deny "special protections" to gays for example).

In reality though hate crime laws don't punish you for your beliefs any more than punishing A for beating someone up with intent to rob them more severely than B, who merely beat someone, does. It doesn't punish A for his beliefs to do that - even if he thought for instance that it was perfect moral to beat people up for their money or he was trying to make a political statement through robbery.
posted by R_Nebblesworth at 12:35 PM on April 30, 2009


Yeah, "hate crime" laws are pretty uncontroversial.

Or what I mean to say is they *shouldn't* be as controversial as they are.
posted by R_Nebblesworth at 12:36 PM on April 30, 2009


Yes, saying "yes" is what most people would say to those questions. The point being that in some cases the same action can and should receive different consequences depending on the history behind those actions. The actions are only the same if looked at very narrowly.

In the first question, they are only the same if you see it as "two people get pulled over with firearms that they have permits for" and not "one guy was planning on killing the president"

In the second question they are only the same if you just see it as "two people have sex with two other people" and not "one guy committed statutory rape".

In the third question they are only the same if you see it as "two people hit someone with their car" and not "one person accidentally hit another person with their car while another murdered another person with their car".

In the same way, Bathtub Bobsled seems to only be narrowly looking at hate crimes as being the same as 'normal' crimes and this was my way to try and get him to see why other people think they are different.
posted by Green With You at 12:38 PM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thank you for clarifying. I thought that might have been what you were getting at, but wanted to be certain.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:39 PM on April 30, 2009


Should they be treated differently if they are pulled over and searched?

It's already illegal to make threats against the President ("action"). Adding to the equation guns and travel to where the President lives and works just constitutes more threatening "action". How does this relate the matter of hate crime law?

Two adults aged 25 have sex with someone else. The first with a 13 year old the second with a 20 year old because they both felt the person was old enough. Should they be treated differently?

They are treated differently. One is statutory rape. What does this have to do with hate crime?

Two people are driving and hit someone on the street; the first person knew the person they hit and was aware that their Significant Other had cheated on them with the person they hit while the second person did not know the person they hit. Should they be treated differently?

These crimes are already treated differently, no? Recklessness and intent help define the extent of the crime and punishment.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:40 PM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I suppose I should retract some of my statements, as I didn't realize that the main thrust of the Hate Crime legislation was to provide Federal authorities jurisdiction to prosecute those crimes that local authorities refuse to prosecute.

It still seems strange though, the way it's philosophically interpreted. It still seems to me that racial/etc. motivation is strong evidence toward intent, and if additional terrorism is caused by the racial/etc. motivation, that can be prosecuted as well. Beating someone because they're gay, and beating someone because they're a bowler are both examples of clear intent with irrational reasoning, but one will get prosecuted as a hate crime, and the other will not.
posted by explosion at 1:03 PM on April 30, 2009


Beating someone because they're gay, and beating someone because they're a bowler are both examples of clear intent with irrational reasoning, but one will get prosecuted as a hate crime, and the other will not.

Yes, because laws must offer equal protection. The explanation as to why veterans are not protected by these laws, offered in homculus's link above, is also true of bowlers:

[Bias crime laws] are intended to protect everyone equally from these kinds of crimes. Everyone, after all, has religious beliefs of one kind or another; we all have a race, a gender, an ethnicity, a sexual orientation. A quick look at the FBI's annual bias-crime statistics bears this out; anti-white bias crimes are the second-largest category of racial crimes, and anti-Christian crimes constitute the second-largest in the religion category. If the laws were written as [Rooney] suggests, they couldn't possibly pass the Constitution's equal-protection muster; yet these laws have.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:07 PM on April 30, 2009


How do you define 'belief' and how do you define 'action'? At what point do they get separated from each other?

How do you feel about "intent" wrt to criminal law? Because - as others have pointed out - it's pretty well established in how our legal system works.

explosion: Last time I checked, bowlers are not recognized as a class (race, sexual orientation, etc.), nor was I aware of the history of bowlers being targeted for crime or discrimination because of their bowling.

On preview, what Astro Zombie et al. have said.
posted by rtha at 1:13 PM on April 30, 2009


You haven't met these bowlers, rtha. Hounded to death, they were.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:16 PM on April 30, 2009


The idea that people's state of mind or reasons should be excluded from the law is ridiculous. It is an integral part of criminal proceedings. It's called motive.

From wikipedia: The legal system typically allows motive to be proven in order to make plausible the accused's reasons for committing a crime, at least when those motives may be obscure or hard to identify with.
posted by JackFlash at 1:23 PM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


*shrieks in horror*

*faints*
posted by rtha at 1:23 PM on April 30, 2009


> Hounded to death, they were.

To be fair, it was because they were a rich source of lamp oil.
posted by mrzarquon at 1:32 PM on April 30, 2009


Most of the misunderstanding seems to stem from the term “hate crime.” Abstract thought, bigotry, etc. and the hate itself is not what’s being criminally punished. (I'll stress - abstract.)

I will disagree on veterans (and bowlers) though. People are targeted for discrimination based on such things as religion, nationality, disability, socioeconomic class (homeless come to mind), so I’d argue those are potentially protected (although religion I believe already is – but it’s a mutable trait too, you don’t have to be Christian or Muslim the way you have to be black).

No law needed (yet) for vets and bowlers because they’re not being really victimized. I’d argue that if one could prove bias somehow it could be a hate crime tho.
Homeless folks on the other hand – extremely criminally vulnerable and more than double the number of homeless folks have been killed by attackers with no motive than all other bias (hate) crime category victims combined.
And they don't even have those little hand drier fans where they try to look sooo cool and flip their hands about checking out your girlfriends butt, which can really enrage the hell out of some people.
*ahem* Not me. But some people.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:38 PM on April 30, 2009


You could just ask me to stop, Smedleyman.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:41 PM on April 30, 2009


Wow.

Members of your "group" were refused jobs, not allowed to get married, refused visitation and estate rights, beaten up, murdered, etc.?

Pray tell, what group do you belong to that has suffered such wrath in the last few months, and all of that here on Metafilter?

I'm genuinely curious.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:10 PM on April 30 [+] [!]


First: Are refusal of jobs, not being allowed to get married, refusal of visitation and estate rights, being beaten up, and murdered, in your opinion, the only possible manifestations of hate? Either you didn't read my post or you're straining to pretend I meant something that I didn't say.

Second: Battery and murder are crimes. Are the other things you mentioned crimes? Are they hate crimes under this legislation? Refusal to hire someone because of membership or perceived membership in a protected class is unlawful, but it is not a crime in the United States, as far as I know, and would not be covered as part of this legislation.

Third: None of those things has happened to me (that I know of) due to my membership in one of the protected classes recognized by this legislation. But they have happened to other people who are members of that protected class. Why does that matter?

Fourth: If no one in the protected class of which I am a member had ever been murdered, beaten, or denied any right based on that status or perception of that status, would you contend that members of that class are not entitled to have crimes against them investigated and prosecuted in cases where local law enforcement is unwilling to do so based on bias?

Fifth: Maybe I'm projecting, but it seems to me like you're trying to insinuate that you don't think I'm gay, and that if I'm not gay, I can't possibly really relate--that my support of this legislation is unwelcome and that my reasoning is unworthy. You're belittling my post based on your own hateful bias, and you're trying to bait me into a position where you can call me hateful, regardless of what my actual views are, based on my belonging to a protected class that you assume is something other than sexual orientation.

I don't hate you. Do you hate me? Do you hate anyone based on any one of the protected critera listed in this legislation? Take a good, hard look at the list and yourself. Are you hateful?

I think that all crimes should be investigated and criminals prosecuted, regardless of the motivation of the crime. I think that, when "local authorities are unwilling or unable to act," that it is appropriate to grant federal law enforcement the authority to "tak[e] the lead in investigations and prosecutions of bias-motivated, violent crimes resulting in death or serious bodily injury." In fact, I think that bias-motivated crime is virulent and should be prosecuted the fullest extent of the law. Do you agree? Or do you think that, if I belong to a protected class that you happen not to like or that you think has not been sufficiently persecuted in the last few months, that I have no right to think that law enforcement should actually prosecute people who commit crimes against me?

You want to know my opinions? Then ask me about them in a private conversation and we can get to know each other. You want to know what protected class I belong to so that you can cultivate your already-existing prejudice against me and start an argument about who you think is more deserving of protection from crime? No, thanks. I don't hate you. Is there any particular protected class that I could tell you I belong to that would convince you that you hate me?
posted by The World Famous at 1:50 PM on April 30, 2009


There are plenty of laws already on the books regarding property damage, assault, and threatening people and making them afraid for their safety. [emph. mine]

Are there? I'm asking sincerely, as I can't think of any other laws under which "making [people] afraid for their safety" would be illegal, in and of itself. Just a few days ago thousands of New Yorkers were made afraid for their safety, and while much of the MetaFilter discussion revolved around whether the people responsible should resign or be fired, I don't recall anyone suggesting that anything criminal was done.

In any case, you seem to accept that making people afraid for their safety ought to, at least in some cases, result in punishment, then what is your objection to hate-crime law (let's say the stereotypical increased-sentence type law, rather than the particular one here), given that, say, a racially-motivated murder does make people afraid for their safety, more so than a garden-variety murder?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:51 PM on April 30, 2009


"Is there any particular protected class that I could tell you I belong to that would convince you that you hate me?"

You work for Fox news?
posted by Smedleyman at 1:56 PM on April 30, 2009


You work for Fox news?

It's actually a good thing that's not a protected class. I'd have a hard time not hating that one.
posted by The World Famous at 2:04 PM on April 30, 2009


"Is there any particular protected class that I could tell you I belong to that would convince you that you hate me?"

Yep. A family member of Fred Phelps and an active member of the Westboro ("God Hates Fags") Church.
posted by ericb at 2:06 PM on April 30, 2009


*member of Fred Phelps's family*
posted by ericb at 2:07 PM on April 30, 2009


TWF, your coyness is irritating and attention-seeking. The second paragraph in your initial comment was clearly intended to be such. Don't blame us if your little "I have a secret" game didn't go the way you want it.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:16 PM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


It doesn't matter what sex or race The World Famous is, because the legislation would cover him (as has been pointed out again and again) even if he is the straightest, whitest, most christiany manly man on the planet. I agree that the coyness is annoying, but it's also, in this case, irrelevant.

I do think it's a little sad that TWF changed his mind about hate crimes legislation only when it was his community that came under attack, but hey, there are worse reasons to change one's mind.
posted by rtha at 2:30 PM on April 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


Bathtub Bobsled : all VIOLENT crimes are hate crimes

I used to hold a similar view on hate crimes, but a discussion here on metafilter is actually what changed my mind about the need for them;

The key thing here is that even if I accept your statement, the opposite is not always true: all hate crimes are not necessarily violent ones.

Sure, if someone gets beaten to death, it seems reasonable to prosecute the person who did it based on the fact that there are many well established laws about how it's not ok to murder someone like that.

But what about more subtle forms of hate crimes? Burning a cross on someones lawn? That would generally be nothing more than disorderly conduct and maybe vandalism? Spray painting racist or bigoted statements on someone's house? Graffiti. These are small time crimes with big time impact to the communities that are targeted. So while with big crimes like murder or assault, the need for hate crime legislation could be debated, I find it becomes almost impossible to do so when dealing with asymmetrical situations like threatening but non-violent crimes which are designed to leave terror in their wake.
posted by quin at 2:50 PM on April 30, 2009


Here we go again with the Mormons-Are-So-Persecuted-By-Gay-Activists crap.

At least come out and say it.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:50 PM on April 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


If you spray paint a swastika on a synagogue, the 'hate crime' part is not the vandalism. The 'hate crime' part is the implied threat you send to every other Jewish person in the community.
posted by jfrancis at 3:02 PM on April 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm so glad so few MeFites discuss Ezra Levant because he's somewhat right and somewhat wrong and mostly a dork and really complicates these discussions.
posted by GuyZero at 3:03 PM on April 30, 2009


Don't blame us if your little "I have a secret" game didn't go the way you want it.

It's irrelevant. I belong to a religious group (not Fred Phelps' family or the Wesboro Church) that has been the target of quite a lot of hate--hate that I am confident many on Metafilter believe is justified. I think that my own views on the issues that have prompted the recent wave of hate differ significantly from the views that are prompting hate. But I have no doubt that a lot of people direct hate toward all members of my religion, regardless of personal belief regarding that issue. But that is completely irrelevant to the question of whether the feds should be empowered to take the lead in investigating and prosecuting in situations where local law enforcement is unwilling to do so due to bias.

Optimus Chyme, your outspoken opinions on religion on this site are part of the reason that I don't want to bring it into this discussion. I get the impression that you are biased against religious people. I'm not trying to be coy or play games. I'm trying to avoid a derail that turns this thread into a discussion of religion. I don't want to get into it with you, in part because I tend to agree with you most of the time and I really like your posts in general, and in part because I just really don't want to get into a Metafilter fight.

I do think it's a little sad that TWF changed his mind about hate crimes legislation only when it was his community that came under attack, but hey, there are worse reasons to change one's mind.

It did take quite a lot for me to get over my (ongoing) belief that hate crimes legislation is generally unconstitutional. But it helps that the current bill is designed to ensure enforcement, and not to just make bias-based crimes federal crimes or to provide enhanced sentencing guidelines for bias-based crimes. I don't think that bias-based crimes should be punished more harshly than the same crimes if committed without bias. But I do think that enforcement should be equal. I guess I also didn't genuinelly believe that otherwise "enlightened" people in a liberal area could or would develop attitudes that could realistically condone hate-based violence. I was naive. And yes, it is a little sad.

Here we go again with the Mormons-Are-So-Persecuted-By-Gay-Activists crap.

I think there's hate going both ways between those two groups and that both should stop. If you want to know my personal views on issues that are not relevant to this thread, feel free to send me a MeFiMail. I am certain that our views are not nearly as far apart as you are likely assuming.
posted by The World Famous at 3:09 PM on April 30, 2009


Jeralyn, the founder/lawyer of Talkleft - a long-running and solidly progressive legal blog - discusses her opposition to hate crimes legislation here, but this 2003 post is a good summary. She does indeed feel that hate crime laws "come dangerously close to punishing thought," (I completely agree and oppose them heartily) but she raises practical objections as well. The flip side to rocket88's "the feds can move in and take over an investigation from state or local investigators if the crime appears to be motivated by hate" is this:

The underlying criminal activity of a hate crime, such as robbery, assault, or murder, traditionally falls under state jurisdiction. The concern is that by passing federal hate crime laws, there will be a mass federalization of crime which should and could be adequately handled at the state level instead of overburdening our already overwhelmed federal courts...

Since 41 states already have hate crime laws, expanding federal laws in this area could result in double prosecution in many instances, with the federal government following up in cases where they simply do not like the results in state trials.


It's an unnecessary and potentially dangerous extension of government power, at a time when that's the last thing this country needs. They do nothing the current legal system can't already handle - and isn't now handling.
posted by mediareport at 3:22 PM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


TWP, I don't have an issue with religious people. I have an issue with religious people who attempt to insert their religious morals into our secular government, thereby fucking with my life and the lives of my friends and loved ones. The Mormon Church poured astonishing amouts of money into California politics to ensure that gay and lesbian couples never have the same rights as straight couples. When the Christian right portrays gays and lesbians as subhuman animals, it encourages people like Matthew Shepard's murderers. He was just a fucking kid. And all you hear from the Christian right is "he deserved it." The Christian right even blamed 9-fucking-11 on homosexuals.

Like it or not, your tacit acceptance of these mores constitutes an attack on people I care about. So if your feelings are hurt when I say "the Christian/Mormon right and those who do not speak against them are the real enemy," I can't really conjure up a whole lot of sympathy.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:29 PM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think there's hate going both ways between those two groups and that both should stop.

Why on earth shouldn't gay people hate people who have put a lot of time and money into ensuring that they won't have equal rights? And it's offensive to compare public condemnation of bigotry to hate crimes. I've seen people on the right pretending that publicizing the identities of donors, holding rallies, and boycotting businesses are "hate" or religious bigotry.
posted by Mavri at 3:37 PM on April 30, 2009


Like it or not, your tacit acceptance of these mores constitutes an attack on people I care about.

What tacit acceptance?

So if your feelings are hurt when I say "the Christian/Mormon right and those who do not speak against them are the real enemy," I can't really conjure up a whole lot of sympathy.

My feelings are not hurt. But if you murder me because you perceive me to be a member of the Christian/Mormon right, and local law enforcement refuses to investigate and prosecute you for it because they agree with your bias, I hope that the feds will step in and take over.
posted by The World Famous at 3:39 PM on April 30, 2009


And it's offensive to compare public condemnation of bigotry to hate crimes.

I didn't do that, and I'm sorry if my writing was not clear enough for you to understand.

I've seen people on the right pretending that publicizing the identities of donors, holding rallies, and boycotting businesses are "hate" or religious bigotry.

Didn't you just argue, two sentences earlier, that gay people should hate those people?
posted by The World Famous at 3:43 PM on April 30, 2009


Just curious -- how many Mormons have been attacked, maimed or killed in the past ten years by someone targetting them based on their faith?
posted by ericb at 3:47 PM on April 30, 2009


wait where is the raging rainbow tide rising up to take away the rights of the mormon church

i missed this
posted by beefetish at 3:48 PM on April 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


But if you murder me because you perceive me to be a member of the Christian/Mormon right, and local law enforcement refuses to investigate and prosecute you for it because they agree with your bias, I hope that the feds will step in and take over.

I agree. Just as much as I hope that they'd do the same for me if I were to be the victim of a crime perpetrated on me due to the fact that I am gay.
posted by ericb at 3:50 PM on April 30, 2009


All I got is Mormons, Bankers and swine.
posted by MythMaker at 3:50 PM on April 30, 2009


...swine...

Hey, swine are getting a bad rap these days.

But, hey if ya' got any pearls, this fag will take 'em.
posted by ericb at 3:53 PM on April 30, 2009


On non-preview, I think TWF already admitted to being Mormon.

The thing is, I've spoken to Mormons who are personally really pissed off at what the Mormon church did with regards to Prop 8. I think most of the anger is towards the church, there are certainly individual Mormons who were able to see the bigotry that the church was supporting.
posted by MythMaker at 3:53 PM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't forget Mormon Beefcake! Humma, humma, humma!
posted by ericb at 3:54 PM on April 30, 2009


Yeah, speaking for myself, what individual members of a faith do or believe would matter more to me than what their clergymen say or do - not saying the latter would have no bearing at all, of course, but if a Mormon said "I think gay people should be allowed to marry" then that Mormon's alright on that count. It's the whole "Jesus spoke to the Indians and they still rejected Christianity so it's OK to take their land, the godless heathens" thing that bugs me.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:57 PM on April 30, 2009


But if you murder me because you perceive me to be a member of the Christian/Mormon right, and local law enforcement refuses to investigate and prosecute you for it because they agree with your bias, I hope that the feds will step in and take over.

Bingo!

Didn't you just argue, two sentences earlier, that gay people should hate those people?

Hating is not a crime, but taking violent or threatening actions based on that hate is. Holding rallies and boycotting does not fall under that rubric.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:58 PM on April 30, 2009


Hating is not a crime, but taking violent or threatening actions based on that hate is. Holding rallies and boycotting does not fall under that rubric.

Yes, I agree.
posted by The World Famous at 4:15 PM on April 30, 2009


In related news:
"Mormon leader of NOM [National Organization for Marriage, the folks behind the recent anti-gay, bigoted 'Storm' television ad and a new one featuring 'breast-augmented' (procedure paid for by the pagent) Carrie Prejean aka Miss California] appears to advocate overthrow of US government 'by whatever means necessary,' and criminalization of homosexuality."
posted by ericb at 5:11 PM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jesus, TWF, I see why you were hesitant to go into detail. Can people stop with the guilt by association stuff? MeFi ought to be above this.
posted by teraflop at 5:36 PM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can people stop with the guilt by association stuff?

It would be nice but I'm afraid it'll never happen.


Matthew Shepard is a guy I'll never know but what I know about his death really convinced me of the need for hate-crime legislation. If for no other reason but for justice sake.
posted by nola at 6:16 PM on April 30, 2009


My feelings are not hurt. But if you murder me because you perceive me to be a member of the Christian/Mormon right, and local law enforcement refuses to investigate and prosecute you for it because they agree with your bias, I hope that the feds will step in and take over.
posted by The World Famous at 3:39 PM on April 30


Great, I'm glad we agree. It's too bad you didn't agree with it when you thought you were immune from hate-based crime, and only changed your mind when you realized that it benefited you.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:19 PM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Alright, apologies if this has been said before but I haven't read all the comments.

Hate crime legislation came out of the 1960s, right? Why then? Well, there were large parts of the country (cough cough THE SOUTH) where minorities were systematically persecuted. A Black man was lynched and not only did the authorities not do anything about it, often times they were there, helping to string up the poor innocent man. This was not some lone nutcase with racist attitudes, it was whole towns of regular ordinary folks who sometimes thought it appropriate to bring their kids.

Yes. Things have changed. Racism is more likely to take the form of an over eager judge who sentences black men to higher prison terms than white men. The days of communal lynchings are hopefully behind us. But that doesn't mean these attitudes don't prevail still.

Hate crime legislation recognizes that in America, we not only have a problem with ethnic or racial oriented violence but many times that violence is perpetrated with the help of those in power or is tacitly supported through a subtle campaign of apathy.

We make a distinction about intent when it comes to hate violence because the crime is symptomatic of a larger problem within society itself. Hence the "gay panic" defense used at the Matthew Shepard trial, if this wasn't indicative of un-easy societal attitudes towards gays then there's no chance the defense attorneys would have brought it up.

When we label a crime as a hate crime we say to the perpetrator:

"What you did was wrong, not only for your criminal actions, but for your wanton disregard for the very fabric of America. You don't have to like everyone here, you don't even have to tolerate them. But when you try to physically intimidate one person of a specific group and by extension the group at large you violate the deep civil morals we as a country aspire to uphold."
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 6:42 PM on April 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's too bad you didn't agree with it when you thought you were immune from hate-based crime, and only changed your mind when you realized that it benefited you.

I didn't ever think I was immune from hate-based crime. Anecdotes like the Matthew Shepard case, where local law enforcement and prosecutors were willing to investigate and where the jury convicted the defendants on all charges, led me to believe that, even in the most anti-gay cases, hatred and bias in the United States are not currently so pervasive that local law enforcement refuses on a regular basis to prosecute bias crimes. That was a naive belief, I admit. The hatred expressed on both sides of the Prop 8 issue in California, especially the post-election events, convinced me that hatred is alive and well even in the most liberal parts of the country, and reminded me that people filled with hate can go to extremes to convince themselves that their hatred is not only justified but righteous and necessary. That is a world where I want the feds empowered to step in if local law enforcement is in on the hate.

I have never agreed, and I still do not agree, with proposals to make bias-based crime have an enhanced sentence or to add a charge on that basis in addition to existing laws prohibiting those crimes. But recent events have convinced me that bias-based hatred is much more pervasive and insidious than I had previously acknowledged.

Keep in mind that the federal hate crimes law enacted in 1969 already applied to crimes based on actual or perceived religious status. What's new is the application of that law to sexual orientation, which I support, not because I realized that I am not immune to hate-based crime, but because I realized that people in America are a lot more hateful and prejudiced than I previously acknowledged - even when they're pretending to fight against hate.
posted by The World Famous at 7:04 PM on April 30, 2009


Judy Shepard, Matthew's mother, on hate crimes [video | 07:30].
posted by ericb at 8:10 PM on April 30, 2009


Could you summarize, ericb?
posted by mediareport at 8:21 PM on April 30, 2009


Could you summarize, ericb?

No.

I suggest that you watch the video in full.

A transcript of Judy Shepard's interview with Rachel Maddow is not yet available. It should be online here tomorrow.
posted by ericb at 8:31 PM on April 30, 2009


This type of legislation is a really bad idea, even if Republican bigots hate it for the wrong reasons.
posted by bardic at 8:44 PM on April 30, 2009


Hate crime legislation makes perfect sense. If you are motivated by hate, you have a special problem and need to seek help. Learn to control your emotions or get the fuck out of our society for a good few years. There is absolutely no need for us, the greater good, to put up with that shit.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:51 AM on May 1, 2009


No. I suggest that you watch the video in full.

For anyone else watching, the first 2:52 is a waste of time, just a standard talking head rehash of the bigot pol's comments. Judy Shepard shows up but Maddow uses most of the time asking Shepard how she feels about the pol's apology, etc. It's not until 5:00 that anything that might be relevant to the deeper discussion about the merits of hate crimes legislation shows up. Shepard suggests it's not right that Laramie had to furlough four employees to be able to prosecute Matthew's murderers, and that federal money would have been available to help if gays were included as a protected class. That's the most relevant point she makes.

Maddow then asks a vague question about people who think there's no federal interest in cases like this, which Shepard turns into the "no special rights for special people" argument, which isn't what thoughtful opponents of hate crimes legislation - like Jeralyn at Talkleft and many others - are arguing at all. She then offers the point that officers' personal bigotry that can affect how cases are treated needs to be addressed "somehow," and says that hate crimes are "a totally different type of crime" because they're "meant to send a message to a community, not to an individual."

In other words, the standard claims. I like and respect Judy Shepard, but trotting her out like ericb does and demanding we watch her for the emotional pull of seeing the victim's mother make the same points addressed many times above is, in my opinion, really horrid discussion. I can see why he didn't want to summarize it; there's nothing there to summarize except one big emotional hot button.
posted by mediareport at 4:05 AM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


This type of legislation is a really bad idea, even if Republican bigots hate it for the wrong reasons.
posted by bardic at 8:44 PM on April 30


No, you're wrong.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:41 AM on May 1, 2009


I can see why he didn't want to summarize it...

Uh, because I didn't want to take the time to do so. I'm not here to summarize other media for you. Thank you very much.
posted by ericb at 8:42 AM on May 1, 2009




Oh hell. Consider my failure to preview a repeat for emphasis.
posted by hermitosis at 8:51 AM on May 1, 2009


“Hate crime legislation came out of the 1960s, right?”
Long before that actually – there were laws on the books concerning bias against skin color during the Civil war era.
“It's an unnecessary and potentially dangerous extension of government power, at a time when that's the last thing this country needs. They do nothing the current legal system can't already handle - and isn't now handling.”
Mediareport, do you think the government should investigate terrorism? How about terrorist organizations? Would you consider the KKK a terrorist organization?
The problem with counterterrorism seems to be it’s feast or famine. It’s either completely ignored or given plenty of attention but radically distorted for political (or entertainment) purposes. In the 70s, lots of hijackings. Professionals said “hey, howzabout compartmentalizing the flight deck? Maybe giving pilots access to firearms? Beefing up the air marshalls?” That was ignored. “Hey, howzabout talking to the PLO?”
No, we don’t talk to terrorsts. Boom – Achille Lauro. “Hey, this Gulf of Sidra thing might have some blowback to..” Fuck ‘em. Boom – 103. Etc. etc. etc. This no communication with terrorists/ being a cowboy hardass with a gun has been policy for a long time. Didn’t start with Bush. Hell, Clinton used renditions too, but no, I’m a paranoid nutcase when I said it was crap then. Meanwhile, without communication, you get no good intelligence and no picture of the mental landscape that’s out there. Oh, but we have Jack Bauer to cut people’s thumbs off and wave his gun around Smedley! Uh huh. Swell.
All other considerations aside, and there are many very good ones, these are exactly the kinds of investigations you want your government doing. If you do not make it worth pursuing – that is – if there’s no crime attached to bias motivated violence, they’re not going to do the investigation.
If they don’t do the investigation, then when the Lord’s Army of Scumbag Horse Fuckers or whatever group comes “out of the blue” and commits whatever atrocity, it will come as a complete surprise to everyone (except horse owners, who have been getting assaulted, but y’know, no real follow up, just the prosecution for assault and battery).
You can have satellites up the yin yang, radios, thermal imaging, wiretaps, any kind of modern weaponry you like – the simple fact is people will always talk and having personnel to pursue investigations and know the area and the people and the general sentiments will always be the most valuable tool you have.
If it’s not a crime to be bias in beating on someone, than your cadre will just do the simplest most basic investigation to fulfill their job requirements – like any other government employee.
In short – investigating bias crimes, whether as a potential or reality, fosters greater communication which is necessary for an accurate picture of the citizenry and allows for anticipation of potential trouble. It’s just more efficient. Especially if Joe Local cop has to call for back up from the fed because the LASHF is bigger than he can handle.
Ounce of prevention = pound of cure, all that. Bias crime recognizes that some criminal actions don’t occur in a vacuum.
Want to argue the potential for abuse? I agree. But that’s with anything. But just because the RICO laws have been misapplied doesn’t mean that the need to fight organized crime and racketeering it was designed to address never existed. Same deal here.
It’s just a tool. And a necessary one.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:02 PM on May 1, 2009


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