Civil Rights

The Empty Symbolism of Hate Crimes Legislation

Why the Matthew Shepard Act won't help prevent future hate crimes

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Federal law enforcement officials are not plagued by idleness these days, thanks to the demands on their time from terrorists, drug traffickers, human traffickers, Ponzi schemers, and crooked politicians. But Congress never stops trying to ensure full employment for FBI agents and U.S. attorneys. The latest stimulus is the Matthew Shepard Act, billed as an overdue effort to prevent violence against gays and lesbians.

The logic behind the proposed measure is hard to follow. Says sponsoring Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), "No members of society—none—deserve to be victims of a violent crime because of their race, their religion, their ethnic background, their disability, their gender, their gender identity, or their sexual orientation." Which raises the question: Who exactly does deserve to be the victim of a violent crime?

The bill targets actions we would all like to eliminate—physically injuring or trying to injure someone with "fire, a firearm, a dangerous weapon, or an explosive or incendiary device." But it's hard to imagine that it would reduce the prevalence of such conduct, which is already 1) really, really illegal and 2) subject to harsh penalties.

This legislation would add extra punishment for attacks designated as hate crimes. But if a criminal is not deterred by the fear of five years behind bars, he's probably not going to be pushed onto the straight and narrow by the prospect of six.

In the case of attacks like the one on Matthew Shepard, a gay college student beaten to death in Wyoming in 1998, the statute would be superfluous. His killers were eligible for the death penalty, though both made deals that assured they would be locked up for the rest of their lives. For the most horrific hate crimes, the change would accomplish absolutely nothing.

That's not the only way in which it would constitute an exercise in irrelevance. Already, 45 states have hate crime laws, and two-thirds of them include crimes against gays and lesbians. In the remaining states, you will be relieved to know, such attacks are punished as violent felonies.

The old rationale for federal hate crimes legislation was that bigoted local cops and prosecutors were ignoring vicious assaults on minorities. But supporters have to admit things have changed. The Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, notes that "85 percent of law enforcement officials surveyed recognize bias motivated violence to be more serious than similar crimes not motivated by bias."

The existing law is mostly a curiosity, since it applies only to hate crimes in which the attacker singles out a victim on the basis of race, religion, or national origin and is trying to interfere with the victim's participation in one of six federally protected activities—going to a public school, applying for a job, serving as a grand juror, and so on. Even in the most vicious cases, notes Jonathan Godfrey, a spokesman for the House Judiciary Committee, an attacker can't be convicted "unless he is proved to have possessed both these intents."

Sen. Kennedy wants to eliminate these restrictions because they make it hard for the feds to go after hate crimes. But the change might not go down well at the Supreme Court. In 1995, it overturned the Gun Free School Zones Act of 1990 for exceeding Congress' authority over crime, which the court said is properly a responsibility of state and local governments.

So a federal hate crimes law may go from being a ban on extremely rare offenses to being unconstitutional. Some achievement.

That aside, expanding the law will not expand the number of hours in a day for the people who have to enforce it. The FBI says it could add hundreds of thousands of cases to its workload. Barring an increase in budgets and staffing, one of two things will happen: The feds will neglect other serious crimes that they now pursue, or they will neglect hate crimes. Which should it be?

Fortunately, any hate crimes passed over by the FBI can be tackled by local police and prosecutors. The Human Rights Campaign acknowledges that even if supporters of the bill get their way, "the vast majority of these crimes will continue to be prosecuted at the state level."

If federal licensing laws required disclosure of the ingredients in congressional legislation, here's what the label on this one would say: 90 grams of empty symbolism and 10 grams of needless duplication.

COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

Bonus video: During House deliberations over the hate-crimes bill, Rep. Alcee Hastings reads a list of fetishes that would be covered under the legislation.

NEXT: It Doesn't Translate

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  1. A pointless piece of legislation, sponsored by an almost-dead lefty icon, named after a dead gay icon. You cannot stop it. You can only hope to contain it.

  2. who exactly does deserve to be the victim of a violent crime?

    Ted Kennedy.

  3. This is yet another reason my proposal of term limits on federal laws makes sense. One day everyone is going to actually realize how stupid (and dangerous) all this feelgood legislation is, and they’re still going to be afraid to overturn it. It’s easier to let bad law lapse than to vote to repeal it.

    We can’t stop the bad laws (or lawmakers, apparently) but we can limit their lasting impact.

  4. Just what we need. More laws designed to make people feel better about themselves and their ineffective government.

  5. Empty symbolism is stock and trade for liberals.

    In fact, that’s pretty much all they’ve got.

  6. Just what we need. More laws designed to make people feel better about themselves and their ineffective government.

    Yeah, right, you just don’t want to be charged with a hate crime when you’re committing violent felonies ;).

  7. Why only violent crimes? Racially motivated embezzling is an outrage!

  8. You are all under arrest for hating hate crimes!

  9. Also, which rapes would be exempt?

  10. Crimes should be committed with sweet love.

  11. Rapes committed where the victim is a totally hot babe…as in “She was so hot, I just had to make sweet love to her, whether she wanted it or not”

  12. Racially motivated embezzlitation involves the love of money. Clearly NOT a h8 crime.

  13. And what about robbing people in wheelchairs?

    Also, I don’t see age in that list; I know I was mugged as a kid because I was a kid. And what about degree of sobriety (rolling a drunk), intelligence (Yo, get that dumb guy), agility (Bet I’m unbelievably more fleet-footed than him)?

    jester, sovereign immunity already covers that.

  14. jester, the point is that if you yell a racial epithet while smacking down a guy, you draw more time, so why not if your keeping two sets of books on him?

  15. you’re, not your

  16. “Yeah, right, you just don’t want to be charged with a hate crime when you’re committing violent felonies ;).”

    Exactly! I mean, of all the violent felonies that I’ve committed in the past, none have been against people I hate! I mean, targeting random strangers and innocents allows me to do what I have to do, but not get carried away. If they were someone I didn’t like, man, I might go too far. No charges of Aggravated Rape or Forced Sodomy with the victim’s femur for me!

    The above post was a joke by the way. My crimes are all petty misdemeanors…

  17. Yo, fuck hate crimes legislation.

  18. What about “mild dislike” crimes?
    Or my favorite racially-motivated economic “crime”:

    Koreans controling the Black hair products market.

  19. What scares me more about this is the lefty slant on the word “hate.” Huff Post had a blogger point out how he could feel so much “hate” at the tea party he attended.

    We are watching Newspeak at work: Make an already-pejorative term the target of good-feeling legislation, then assign it to your opposition.

    Libertarians need to watch out too because, in this two-party system, it won’t be republicans that are labeled, but any non-democrat.

    How many of you have had people assume you’re republican just because you criticized BO?

  20. If you’re gonna beat the shit out of somebody, you better make DAMN sure that they’re the same color as you!

  21. This is yet another reason my proposal of term limits on federal laws makes sense.

    Indeed (though it’s been proposed by a lot of people). Also, seeing as how a lot of this feel-good legislation is being able to brag to your constituents about the wonderful laws you passed to protect the children etc.

    I’m sure lawmakers would support a “sunset amendment” to the Constitution if it was framed as a way to give them the chance to vote to ban child molestation and rape every five years or whatever. Lobbyists and special interests would hate it, though, so I’m sure they’d find a way to strangle it in the crib.

    Seriously, there are a ton of problems with our government that would be solved by this.

  22. I am flummoxed at the notion that making a law against something _twice_ somehow helps.

    It’s illegal to assault someone. So now, it’s illegal twice. Great, like anyone will care. People busted for a joint in their pocket still do more time than a rapist anyways, thanks to the war on drugs.

  23. Isn’t the only real reason to enact this kind of legislation to be able to evade the prohibition on double jeopardy?

  24. People busted for a joint in their pocket still do more time than a rapist anyways, thanks to the war on drugs.

    I guess then that hate crimes legislation are just a way of making sure that at least some rapists serve as much time as drug violators.

  25. I’m sure lawmakers would support a “sunset amendment” to the Constitution

    If they’re smart, they will. It sets up a massive lobbying/fundraising opportunity for them every few years, as it resurrects every hot button issue for another bloody round.

    Getcher popcorn ready!

  26. Indeed (though it’s been proposed by a lot of people).

    You just can’t even let me have this one thing, can you?

  27. Once again we see Chapman’s faux libertarian outrage erupt only where gays are concerned.

    If you’re going to curse dual sovereignty, then more power to you. But don’t use the soft bigotry of “geez, the gays again?” as a foot-in-the-door to do it.

    Either be a libertarian and oppose all dual sovereignty crimes (and not just the one covering expansion to include sexual orientation) — or be a libertarian and embrace the notion that a law meant to protect insular minorities should no longer exclude the most insular minority of all.

  28. Steve Chapman calls hate crimes legislation “empty symbolism” that won’t prevent future hate crimes. I’m wondering where he has been for the past 40 years that the law has been in effect? Why all the wailing and gnashing of teeth NOW?

    People err when assuming that expanding the hate crimes statute to include sexual orientation (meaning Gay AND Straight, by the way) will “criminalize” a person’s thoughts. The current hate crimes law has been on the books since 1969, and NEVER over the past 40 years has someone been prosecuted for expressing prejudice against members of a race or a religious group. Christian pastors have been invoking Scripture against non-Christians for as long as there have been Christians, and the hate crimes statute has never been used against them.

    But there is a BIG difference between expressing personal prejudice against a group, and being motivated by that prejudice to attack a person’s person or property. I don’t care if Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Sean Hannity or Lou Sheldon hurl their anti-Gay invective until the cows come home; but if someone uses Scripture as a justification for beating up someone who is Gay, that’s a different story.

    Likewise when it comes to delineating between different crimes against property: There’s a big moral and ethical difference between someone who spraypaints a “tag” on a highway overpass, and someone who spraypaints swastikas on the front of a synagogue.

    Until conservatives mount a concerted effort to repeal the federal hate crimes statute that has been in effect for past 40 years, I’ll continue to see their arguments against the legislation now being considered as pretty disingenuous.

  29. If you couple a sunset amendment with a term limits amendment (it would be two clauses seperated by some oddly placed punctuation) and timed it right, then we could guarantee a whole new set of congressional a-holes voting on these laws. Some of them might even read up on the impact of each expiring law before voting on it.

  30. But there is a BIG difference between expressing personal prejudice against a group, and being motivated by that prejudice to attack a person’s person or property.

    Indeed there is. Attacking a person or their property is a crime, prosecutable without any reference to the political or social attitudes of the perpetrator.

    Hate crimes laws are either (a) redundant and useless appendages on the law or (b) the criminalization of thought and speech. Which of those, again, is laudable or even defensible?

  31. The current hate crimes law has been on the books since 1969, and NEVER over the past 40 years has someone been prosecuted for expressing prejudice against members of a race or a religious group.

    A couple questions for the logic challenged individual who penned the demonstrably false statement above.

    What evidence is used to trigger hate
    crime prosecutions?
    How was it determined by a jury that the extra punishment required by this legislation was warranted?

    Oh yeah, it must have been something someone said or wrote.

  32. I think the idea is that a crime motivated by bigotry against a minority is to some degree more reprehensible than the same crime perpetrated against a person randomly. I’m not a big proponent of such legislation, but if it exists it needs to cover gays. And there is a certain practical logic to the idea that a crime whose target is an entire minority group should be punished more severely than one aimed at an individual alone.

    Of course why address it at all when you can retreat to the standard “this wouldn’t be relevant if I were king of libertopia” stance.

  33. I’m not a big proponent of such legislation, but if it exists it needs to cover gays.

    A more perfect example of the slippery slope in action I have never seen.

  34. The purpose of the bill is one that should worry civil libertarians: it is to get around constitutional protections against double jeopardy by prosecuting people found innocent in state court all over again in federal court (a loophole in Constitutional double-jeopardy protections known as the “dual sovereignty” doctrine permits this).

    For example, backers of the bill like MALDEF and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights want to reprosecute Pennsylvania teenagers acquitted by a state court of committing a hate crime against an illegal alien. (see the May 5 blog post at civilrights.org, the blog of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights).

    Similarly, left-wing lawyers have called for reprosecuting the Duke University lacrosse players after the prosecution against them in state court was dropped (see the Volokh Conspiracy blog comment thread about the Duke Lacrosse case for one such example).

    Here’s the civilrights.org blog post advocating reprosecution:

    http://www.civilrights.org/
    archives/
    2009/05/317-shenandoah.html

    Pennsylvania Teenagers Acquitted of Hate Crime; Federal Law Needed

    May 5, 2009 – Posted by Corrine Yu

    On Friday, a jury acquitted two teenagers of serious charges, including ethnic intimidation, in the fatal beating of Luiz Ramirez, a 25 year-old Mexican immigrant, in Shenandoah, Pa., last July.

    Police say that the teenagers used ethnic slurs as they repeatedly punched Ramirez, knocked him to the ground, and then kicked him several times in the head. Ramirez died of his injuries two days later.

    Hate crimes against Latinos have been increasing since 2003, according to FBI data. Civil rights groups said that this increase correlates closely to the increasingly heated debate over immigration reform and a rise of anti-immigrant rhetoric on radio, television, and the Internet.

    Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crime Prevention Act, which will provide local authorities with more resources to combat hate crimes and give federal government jurisdiction over prosecuting hate crimes in states where the current law is inadequate.

    “[T] his verdict underscores the importance of the passage of this Act,” said Henry Solano, MALDEF interim president and general counsel. “It is time for the Department of Justice to step in and bring justice to the Ramirez family and send a strong message that violence targeting immigrants will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

    The Justice Department is currently investigating whether to prosecute the two teenagers under federal civil rights statutes.

    Categories: Hate Crimes & LLEHCPA

    Here’s one example of an argument that the Duke Lacrosse players should have been prosecuted in federal court:

    http://volokh.com/
    posts/
    1180129165.shtml#222364

    Frank Boyle:

    The Duke professors can’t be blamed for the failed prosecution, which they had no control over.

    Nifong was, in equal measure, overzealous and ineffective, contaminating the case.

    Too bad there wasn’t a federal hate crimes law in place. Then a more competent federal prosecutor could have picked up the pieces, after the state prosecutors dropped the case.

    A federal hate crimes law would allow federal prosecutors, who are often of better quality than their state counterparts, to salvage a hate-crimes prosecution after state prosecutors sabotage their case to the point that it has to be dropped or an acquittal results.

    It would also help redress the structural racism of state justice systems, which are often permeated by institutional racism.

    Anyway, those of us who are lawyers shouldn’t expect humanities professors to know every nuance of the law and weigh every particle of evidence about a particular case before speaking out on general themes of race, class, and gender.

  35. There is not a big moral or ethical difference between spraypainting a tag on a highway overpass and spraypainting swastikas on the front of a synagogue. In fact, there is no difference.

  36. I see that the ADL has weighed in with Chuck A’s comments.

  37. the slippery slope in action

    Watch it, buddy. That’s protected behavior.

  38. Here’s my devil’s advocate question. Aren’t some crimes already punished more harshly, depending on the motive, than others? E.g. The only difference between 1st and 2nd degree kidnapping, is if you do it for money, its 1st degree, otherwise, 2nd degree (at least, in New York State). I’m sure there are more examples of this, where the intent of the criminal impacts the type of crime he can be guily of. How about it?

  39. What percentage of Black on White rapes, muggings and robberies are motivated in part by the hate speech of racists like President Obama’s mentor Reverend Wright?
    Just asking?

  40. A more perfect example of the slippery slope in action I have never seen.

    Why is that? First the gays, next polygamists and chimpanzees? Something like that?


  41. Parker | May 11, 2009, 1:39pm | #
    What percentage of Black on White rapes, muggings and robberies are motivated in part by the hate speech of racists like President Obama’s mentor Reverend Wright?
    Just asking?

    And by asking, you may have committed a crime.


  42. ed | May 11, 2009, 12:30pm | #
    the slippery slope in action

    Watch it, buddy. That’s protected behavior.

    Slippery slopes are going the way of lawn darts: for government use only.

    Couldn’t resist.

  43. If Rush dies of kidney failure is everyone who laughed going to be prosecuted for hate crimes – or just the joke teller?

    Just asking.

  44. The mere fact Ted Kennedy is anywhere around this makes it all the more comical and full of shit legislation. Oh to wake up and find out that sack of Mass. shit is dead I will dance naked in my yard.

  45. Tony wonders Why is that?

    It is because you are lackadaisical in your support (and thought), i.e. you figure if there is a questionable justification for such in the first place it must be okay to extend it. Kinda like the way prosecutors use the Patriot Act for non-terrorist prosecutions – well, sure it wasn’t intended for this, but hey, we can use it anyway.

    By the way, slippery sloping your way from gays to chimps is a whole lot of kinky.

  46. This hate crimes legislature gets worse
    ===============

    LAW OF THE LAND
    ‘Pedophile Protection Act’: What’s next for hate crimes?

    On the fast track: Judiciary panel schedules hearing for bill Tuesday

    Posted: May 10, 2009
    12:00 am Eastern

    ? 2009 WorldNetDaily

    U.S. Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas
    WASHINGTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee will consider Tuesday a hate crimes bill already approved by the House that, critics say, provides special protections for pedophiles and others with alternative “gender identities” such as voyeurism and exhibitionism.

    Obama, supported strongly during his campaign by homosexual advocates, appears ready to respond to their desires.

    “I urge members on both sides of the aisle to act on this important civil rights issue by passing this legislation to protect all of our citizens from violent acts of intolerance,” he said.

    But Gohmert pointed out that if an exhibitionist flashes a woman, and she responds by slapping him with her purse, he has probably committed a misdemeanor while she has committed a federal felony hate crime.

    “That’s how ludicrous this situation is,” Gohmert said.

    Akers’ analysis said the bill would result in the federalization of “virtually every sexual crime in the United States.” And he said it appears to be part of an agenda that would relegate pro-family and traditional marriage advocates into the ranks of “terrorists.” Critics also have expressed alarm because in committee hearings Democrats admitted that a Christian pastor could be prosecuted under the law if he spoke biblically against homosexuality, someone heard the comments and then committed a crime.

    “Under [the plan] the speech of a criminal defendant and the mere membership of the defendant in a given group may be used as evidence of his or her biased motive,” Akers said.

    He said there’s already an effort afoot in the U.S. to list those pro-family organizations “alongside several neo-Nazi groups … to create guilt by the artificial manufactured appearance of association.”

    see link for entire article

    http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=97676

  47. The below bill introduced by Linda Sanchez is more draconian than the hate crimes legislature
    ==================
    Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act (Introduced in House)

    HR 1966 IH

    111th CONGRESS

    1st Session

    H. R. 1966

    To amend title 18, United States Code, with respect to cyberbullying.

    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

    April 2, 2009

    `(a) Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person, using electronic means to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
    HR1966
    —————————
    If this bill becomes law the Federal government could imprison anyone they choose just by saying that that person “transmitted… any form of “communication” that the Federal government determined to be “hostile behavior”.

    HR1966 is the most draconian piece of legislature proposed yet during Obama’s reign.
    ———————

    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.1966:

  48. It is because you are lackadaisical in your support (and thought), i.e. you figure if there is a questionable justification for such in the first place it must be okay to extend it.

    Not at all. I am ambivalent about such laws, but if they exist I’m not ambivalent about whether they should incorporate gays in addition to other minorities. It’s sort of like the marriage debate. I could entertain the idea that gov’t getting out of marriage altogether is the best solution. But since that’s not the case right now, to the extent that government is involved it shouldn’t discriminate.

  49. Tony, this bill doesn’t just add sexual orientation. That’s a very small part of the bill.

    It also radically expands the law beyond just those hate crimes that interfere with federally protected activities (as is the case under current law) to virtually all hate-crimes, leading to overlapping state and federal jurisdiction for a vast number of crimes.

    The purpose of the bill is one that should worry civil libertarians: it is to get around constitutional protections against double jeopardy by prosecuting people found innocent in state court all over again in federal court (a loophole in Constitutional double-jeopardy protections known as the “dual sovereignty” doctrine permits this).

    For example, backers of the bill like MALDEF and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights want to reprosecute Pennsylvania teenagers acquitted by a state court of committing a hate crime against an illegal alien. (see the May 5 blog post at civilrights.org, the blog of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights).

    Similarly, left-wing lawyers have called for reprosecuting the Duke University lacrosse players after the prosecution against them in state court was dropped (see the Volokh Conspiracy blog comment thread about the Duke Lacrosse case for one such example).

    Here’s the civilrights.org blog post advocating reprosecution:

    http://www.civilrights.org/
    archives/
    2009/05/317-shenandoah.html

    Pennsylvania Teenagers Acquitted of Hate Crime; Federal Law Needed

    May 5, 2009 – Posted by Corrine Yu

    On Friday, a jury acquitted two teenagers of serious charges, including ethnic intimidation, in the fatal beating of Luiz Ramirez, a 25 year-old Mexican immigrant, in Shenandoah, Pa., last July.

    Police say that the teenagers used ethnic slurs as they repeatedly punched Ramirez, knocked him to the ground, and then kicked him several times in the head. Ramirez died of his injuries two days later.

    Hate crimes against Latinos have been increasing since 2003, according to FBI data. Civil rights groups said that this increase correlates closely to the increasingly heated debate over immigration reform and a rise of anti-immigrant rhetoric on radio, television, and the Internet.

    Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crime Prevention Act, which will provide local authorities with more resources to combat hate crimes and give federal government jurisdiction over prosecuting hate crimes in states where the current law is inadequate.

    “[T] his verdict underscores the importance of the passage of this Act,” said Henry Solano, MALDEF interim president and general counsel. “It is time for the Department of Justice to step in and bring justice to the Ramirez family and send a strong message that violence targeting immigrants will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

    The Justice Department is currently investigating whether to prosecute the two teenagers under federal civil rights statutes.

    Categories: Hate Crimes & LLEHCPA

    Here’s one example of an argument that the Duke Lacrosse players should have been prosecuted in federal court:

    http://volokh.com/
    posts/
    1180129165.shtml#222364

    Frank Boyle:

    The Duke professors can’t be blamed for the failed prosecution, which they had no control over.

    Nifong was, in equal measure, overzealous and ineffective, contaminating the case.

    Too bad there wasn’t a federal hate crimes law in place. Then a more competent federal prosecutor could have picked up the pieces, after the state prosecutors dropped the case.

    A federal hate crimes law would allow federal prosecutors, who are often of better quality than their state counterparts, to salvage a hate-crimes prosecution after state prosecutors sabotage their case to the point that it has to be dropped or an acquittal results.

    It would also help redress the structural racism of state justice systems, which are often permeated by institutional racism.

    Anyway, those of us who are lawyers shouldn’t expect humanities professors to know every nuance of the law and weigh every particle of evidence about a particular case before speaking out on general themes of race, class, and gender.

  50. What about the hate exhibited by Ted for Mary Jo?

  51. The problem with this bill is that it’s a FEDERAL hate crimes bill, and that it creates broad, overlapping concurrent state and federal jurisdiction over hate crimes.

    It radically expands the law beyond just those hate crimes that interfere with federally protected activities (as is the case under current law) to virtually all hate-crimes, leading to overlapping state and federal jurisdiction for a vast number of crimes. The addition of sexual-orientation is one of the smallest, and least objectionable, parts of the bill.

    The purpose of the federal hate-crimes bill is one that should worry civil libertarians: it is to get around constitutional protections against double jeopardy by prosecuting people found innocent in state court all over again in federal court (a loophole in Constitutional double-jeopardy protections known as the “dual sovereignty” doctrine permits this).

    For example, backers of the bill like MALDEF and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights want to reprosecute Pennsylvania teenagers acquitted by a state court of committing a hate crime against an illegal alien. (see the May 5 blog post at civilrights.org, the blog of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, “Pennsylvania Teenagers Acquitted of Hate Crime; Federal Law Needed”; “[T]his verdict underscores the importance of the passage of this Act,” said Henry Solano, MALDEF interim president and general counsel.”).

    Similarly, left-wing lawyers have called for reprosecuting the Duke University lacrosse players after the prosecution against them in state court was dropped (see the Volokh Conspiracy blog comment thread about the Duke Lacrosse case for one such example).

    Here’s one example of the disturbing argument that the Duke Lacrosse players should have been prosecuted in federal court:

    http://volokh.com/
    posts/
    1180129165.shtml#222364

    “Frank Boyle:

    The Duke professors can’t be blamed for the failed prosecution, which they had no control over.

    Nifong was, in equal measure, overzealous and ineffective, contaminating the case.

    Too bad there wasn’t a federal hate crimes law in place. Then a more competent federal prosecutor could have picked up the pieces, after the state prosecutors dropped the case.

    A federal hate crimes law would allow federal prosecutors, who are often of better quality than their state counterparts, to salvage a hate-crimes prosecution after state prosecutors sabotage their case to the point that it has to be dropped or an acquittal results.

    It would also help redress the structural racism of state justice systems, which are often permeated by institutional racism.

    Anyway, those of us who are lawyers shouldn’t expect humanities professors to know every nuance of the law and weigh every particle of evidence about a particular case before speaking out on general themes of race, class, and gender.”

  52. So any angry lefist protester who pushes and shoves, or throws a pie or a rock or a bottle, or smashes a window while expressing their hatred and intolerance for WTO capitalists or conservative speakers should now be charged with a “hate crime” as well as assualt, disturbing the peace, etc.

    Interesting (but stupid!).

  53. First of all I totally disagree with hate crimes legislation.

    But I still can’t believe you guys are citing that completely BS and viciously bigoted argument that somehow expanding it to include LGBT means it includes all sorts of harmful sexual disorders. That’s just patently false. Both Congress and the APA only define orientation as consisting of straight, gay, bi, or asexual.

    Please don’t quote hateful whackjobs, it only undermines the very valid arguments against federal hate crimes legislation.

  54. “Why is that? First the gays, next polygamists and chimpanzees? Something like that?”

    Worse, emo lamers.

  55. I don’t understand. First your article states the law would be a ban on extremely rare offenses. Then you go on to state that it would overwhelm Federal law enforcement to the point that they would have to neglect other cases. Which is it?

  56. Wouldn’t the abuse thrown at Miss California be a sexual-orientation-based hate crime? There was certainly damage done, and it certainly was done by pure hatred.

  57. “I think the idea is that a crime motivated by bigotry against a minority is to some degree more reprehensible than the same crime perpetrated against a person randomly.”

    And….bigotry against a majority?

  58. The only sure way to cut down on gay bashings is dead bashers. Let a few of these assholes end up on the 11 o’clock news with their bigoted heads blown off, and you better believe would-be bashers will start thinking twice. An armed society is a polite society.

  59. Alan, calling a stupid bigoted cunt a stupid bigoted cunt isn’t a crime of any sort.

    Yet, anyway.

  60. So I guess the Pennsylvania preachers who were arrested and criminally charged with hate crimes for the content of their preaching don’t count, because a judge threw out the charges?
    http://fp.users.fast.net/InfoQuest/HC5_Pa_Hate_Crime_Charges_Dropped.pdf

    You don’t need a conviction to disrupt someone’s life or deprive him of liberty or property.

    Nick

  61. “An armed society is a polite society”.

    Oh yeah! They’re really polite to each other in Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza…………

    Quelle crock.

  62. Thugs with guns tyrannizing those without guns is not an armed society. Grow up.

  63. In fact, that kind of legislation may encourage hate crimes, as happened in the European countries where similar laws were passed over the last few years. For example, someone who justifies killing gays and desobedient women in the name of his culture and religion is fine. Those who criticise him can be prosecuted for hatred and racism. It’s happening all over Europe, as Bruce Bawer points out in his next book, Surrender, out in a few days. A must read.

  64. Folks here might find this Onion-style parody of the hate crimes concept amusing:

    http://optoons.blogspot.com/2009/05/perpetrators-of-viscious-hateful.html

  65. This would be the same Alcee Hastings who was impeached and removed from the federal bench due to corruption? This is one more example of why Congress (and more particularly the Democratic Party) is increasingly the face of what is wrong with this country. Since when do we have criminals- and Hasting, along with Louisiana’s William Jefferson, Florida’s Tim Mahoney, Pennsylvania’s John Murtha, Connecticut’s Chris Dodd and a myriad of others definitely qualifies – passing judgment on ‘hate crimes’ which are not only already covered under existing legislation but are needless in the first place? Instapundit.com’s Glenn Reynolds has it right- it’s yet another lawless power grab by the federal government. Hope and Change indeed!

  66. Precisely the same may be said of hate crime laws in the states. States already prosecute crimes — these laws are mere politicking, and power-and-resources accrual by activist groups with agendas to hone. There is a tremendous amount of money being made by groups that “train” police and prosecutors to “recognize” these crimes, and in every state, activists count down to each possible “hate incident” in order to publicize it. It’s a corrupt and tragic system — and Eric Holder is largely responsible for the way it became so in the 1990’s.

  67. You still don’t get it. Hate crime laws aren’t really about hate at all. They’re about stopping terrorism.

    Today’s gay-beaters are like the Ku Klux Klan: by “making examples” of the people they disagree with, they hope to force gays (and the other hate targets) to move out of “their” parts of the US.

    And if such attacks are only punished as ordinary assault — with no enhancement for this intention to bully — then they succeed.

    I’ll gladly give up hate-crime laws when the law starts being willing to let juries make (and punish) reasonable inferences about intent-to-bully. Until then, we need hate-crime laws to be safe.

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