I am not convinced that hate crime legislation amounts to unconstitutional Orwellian punishment of "thoughtcrime."
(Not that I wouldn't try and argue that to a jury, should the need arise.)
Hate crime laws punish discriminatory conduct, not offensive thoughts.
I do still have some objections to hate crime laws, however, and I would be very interested to hear opinions on these objections or on any other aspect of hate crime prosecution.Hate Crime Legislation is a Form of Affirmative Action
Hate crime laws are intended to recognize the fear instilled within a class of people when bias-motivated crimes are committed against members of that class. This is done by imposing additional penalties intended to provide a greater deterrent than for the "hateless" version of the same crime. The end result is that blacks and homosexuals are provided special
"protection of the law" from racist or antigay crime. Why should little old ladies receive less
protection from crimes committed against them because of their frailty. Why are children less worthy of special protection from harm?
Isn't this affirmative action? A little "extra" government help intended to redress the oppression and victimization of blacks, etc?The California Law is Poorly Drafted
The California hate crime statutes do not require bias against the victim as a necessary element, only that the crime be committed, in whole or in part, "because of one or more" of certain listed actual or perceived characteristics of the "victim," including disability, gender, race, religion and sexual orientiation.
What then of the opportunistic robber who steals from a blind man to avoid identification? The crime was certainly committed, at least in part, because of the disability of the victim. But the robber has no animosity toward blind people.
And what about the neo-nazi who spray paints a swastika on a bus shelter directly across the street from a jewish community center? The victim of the vandalism is the bus company. The perpetrator likely did not know or care about the any of the "characteristics" of the bus company, only those of the many jewish "non-victims" to whom the content of the graffiti was directed.
Gender is a listed characteristic. Is all heterosexual rape and domestic violence hate crime because it is committed "because of" the victim's gender? If so, then why should the bisexual "equal opportunity" rapist be punished less
severely than the heterosexual rapist?Hate Crime Laws Are Unduly Alarmist
Proponents of hate crime laws like to tell us about the under-reported epidemic of hate crime. The truth of the matter is that in California last year, there were 1,409 reported hate crimes, but only 139 convictions. Assuming that far fewer than 90 percent of the perpetrators eluded capture, these figures would seem to indicate over-reporting
of hate crimes.