display | more...
I've long been unsure of how to think of hate crime legislation. There are so many problems to make a clear belief at this point... So I'll talk about what I think for now...

First, one common opposition against hate crimes is that motive shouldn't affect the sentencing or anything like that. But motive has ALWAYS been taken into account. Killing someone in self-defense is still killing, it's just your motive for it that is different from just killing them for the fun of it. If motive is irrelevant than self-defense, mental defect, or anything else doesn't mean anything.

But it does seem like it would be wrong to treat the killers of Matthew Shepard, or the guys down in Texas who dragged the black guy with their truck worse than someone else who did the equivalent crime, just without the motive of bigotry. If three guys tied a while guy to their truck, and dragged him for miles, they should be treated the same, because of the cruel nature of the crime.

Maybe the laws shouldn't be against the motive as much as the method. That the penalty for a crime should definately take into account the method in which it was performed. And when a crime is just horribly cruel, torturous, and inhumane, the person should be looked at differently. And maybe this would cover most of what are currently hate crimes, because the rage and hatred of the person who committed the crime is often obvious in how they performed the crime.

I do worry about the poor treatment of minorities by various people in this country, and see the good intentions of wanting to protect them from all the bigotry. Perhaps not give more jail time for those committing hate crimes, but instead, try and get them into programs to encourage tolerance and empathy?