Wednesday, May 6, 2009

New Hate Crimes Legislation


It's a relief to know that the 111th Congress (you know, the one that doesn't have enough time to debate trillion-dollar spending sprees) has found time to examine the most important issues of the day.

Two weeks ago, Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) quietly re-introduced the so-called hate crimes billH.R. 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. Crimes (already illegal) will be considered "hate crimes" depending on the intent of the criminal.

Questions for proponents of "hate crimes" legislation:
  • Why should we try to make distinctions between hate crimes and other types of crime?
  • Federal hate crimes legislation defines hate crime on the basis of the motivation, perceptions and the prejudices of the perpetrator. Can we reliably determine the motivations, perceptions and prejudices of the accused? If so, how?
  • When we classify crimes according to motivation, prejudice and perception, are we not entering into the realm of thoughtcrime?
  • The Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 would provide for technical, forensic, prosecutorial and financial assistance (up to $100,000) in the criminal investigation or prosecution of any hate crime. Would this not give local and state law enforcement the incentive to prosecute cases involving preferred victims to the exclusion and neglect of less valuable victims?
  • Should we grant preferential treatment to all persons who have been targeted for their sexual orientation? What about pedophiles?
  • Federal hate crimes legislation recognizes prejudice against race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity (a new one), and disability. Why not recognize prejudice against age, body type, political orientation, and veteran status?
These are not academic or philosophical questions. It is important to understand why proponents of hate crimes legislation are inclined to make the distinction between so-called hate crimes and all others. Under the 14th Amendment, victims of violent crime are currently afforded equal protection under the law regardless of sexual preference, race, age, body type or any other aspect of their identity. So what is accomplished by giving certain groups preferential treatment, special recognition and extra re$ources? Is it a clever attempt to undermine the First Amendment by intimidating those who might otherwise be inclined to speak out against the preferred groups?

How else can a person's "motivations, perceptions and prejudices" be determined except by examining his choice of words?

If supporters of hate crimes are seriously interested in protecting vulnerable groups, why not demonstrate their commitment by expanding protection for victims who are targeted for their political orientation? The absence of consideration for political persecution is conspicuous, and it heightens concerns about an utter disregard for the First Amendment.

How about explicitly excluding pedophiles from the list of those who would be eligible special assistance under the provisions of the hate crimes legislation? Nope. The Dems have summarily declared that this is "unnecessary...and inflammatory in terms of insinuations." End of discussion.

Okay...moving on.

How about expanding the definition of hate crimes to protect veterans and members of the military? Representative Tom Rooney, a retired U.S. Army JAG Corps. officer, proposed and amendment to do just that. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D - FL) was shocked and insulted:

“I'm from a state, as Mr. Rooney is, that includes and represents the districts that include real victims. I represent a very largeone of the largest gay populations in the United States of America. One of the largest Jewish populations in the United States of America. My regionour region has a very large African-American population. It really is belittling of the respect that we should have for these groups to suggest that members of the armed services have somehow systematically been the victims of hate crimes." (emphasis provided)

I suppose Wasserman has a good point. If a powerful organization such as the Federal Government of the U.S.A. had ever singled out veterans and portrayed them as a bunch of disgruntled, violent, white-supremacist, lone wolf wannabe terrorists (all formed from the Timothy McVeigh mold) perhaps we would be inclined to think veterans might need heightened protection. But veterans are treated only with the utmost respect in Obama's America...and they certainly aren't real victims.

Sean Hannity expresses the same sentiments, minus the sarcasm:

"Congresswoman, including our soldiers in this bill wouldn't belittle anybody. I think you and Janet Napolitano need to revisit your opinion of our veterans.

"Now I'm personally opposed to hate crime legislation because I feel you are trying to punish people for their thoughts or perceived thoughts, but if you are going to have it, excluding veterans would be a crime."


More


Hate Crimes Protection: Exclude pedophiles? No. Include military veterans? Heck no.

Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009


h/t CBW

19 comments:

Conservative Scalawag said...

Really now, Debbie Wasserman Schultz? Guess her daddy didn't serve in Vietnam, who upon his return home in 1968 was called everything from fascist to baby killer, had fesses tossed or piss at him,all because he wore the uniform of this country, like my father.

Or have friends who are inform be called or done the same way by groups like Code Pink or ANSWER.

Just another fine example of how the far left hates those who wear the uniform and try to protect this country to keep it free.

DaBlade said...

The next step is for "hate crimes" legislation used for purpose of shutting down churches that don't preach the gospel of obama.

Adrienne said...

I didn't know about the financial incentive. It is appalling that the government would spend more money to prosecute some over others.

Are the people of this country on permanent snooze button??

Throwing Stones said...

What would we do with out John Conyers?

Besides be much happier!

robert verdi said...

the legislation vague, then it could mean anything.

RightKlik said...

CS: The far left is insane.

DaBlade: Yep.

Adrienne: On snooze? Certainly. Unfortunately, it will probably take another catastrophe to wake them up.

TS: You get rid of Conyers and ten more show up.

RV: ...and that's just the way they like it.

Dan Trabue said...

Sorry I'm late to the game, I have a few answers for you, though, if you're interested...

# Why should we try to make distinctions between hate crimes and other types of crime?



Because there's more than one crime going on. Allow me to illustrate: When a terrorist kills someone, do we merely charge them with murder, OR do we at least attempt to charge them with terrorism (or whatever the legal terminology is for it)? When someone commits an act of terrorism, there are at least two crimes involved: 1. the actual assault/murder and 2. the attempt to terrorize the populace.

Hate crimes are a lot like that. There is the crime against the individual and then there is the action of terrorizing the greater community to which the individual belongs.

# Federal hate crimes legislation defines hate crime on the basis of the motivation, perceptions and the perceptions of the perpetrator. Can we reliably determine the motivations, perceptions and prejudices of the accused? If so, how?


We do it all the time. If someone has killed someone, do we charge them with murder or manslaughter? Well, it all depends upon the intent, doesn't it?

# When we classify crimes according to motivation, prejudice and perception, are we not entering into the realm of thoughtcrime?

No, as I've noted above, prosecutors delve into motivation and prejudices all the time.

I'm sure we can agree on at least this much, yes?

LauraB said...

RightKlik said...
"You get rid of Conyers and ten more show up."

Sorry RK, there can not be 10 more like Conyers!!

RightKlik said...

Okay, DT. You've brought up some important points.

RK: Why should we try to make distinctions between hate crimes and other types of crime?

DT: Because there's more than one crime going on.

When a terrorist kills someone, do we merely charge them with murder, OR do we at least attempt to charge them with terrorism? ...When someone commits an act of terrorism, there are at least two crimes involved: 1. the actual assault/murder and 2. the attempt to terrorize the populace.


RK: I'm glad you're prepared to make a distinction between murder and terrorism. Indeed, the intent of the terrorist is not simply to kill people. And that's one of the reasons why conservatives are inclined to say that terrorism isn't simply a law enforcement problem.

DT: Hate crimes are a lot like that. There is the crime against the individual and then there is the action of terrorizing the greater community to which the individual belongs.RK: Your argument is getting weak here... You don't have to target someone from another race, gender or religious group in order to terrorize the greater community. Murders, for example, will terrorize just about everybody in the community. And many crimes, whether targeted or not, could be measured by their psychological impact. If you want to charge someone for terrorism or disturbing the peace or whatever, you don't need hate crimes legislation to do it. And you don't need hate crimes legislation to sue for emtional damages.

RK: [Rhetorical question:] Federal hate crimes legislation defines hate crime on the basis of the motivation, perceptions and the prejudices of the perpetrator. Can we reliably determine the MOTIVATIONS, perceptions and prejudices of the accused? If so, how?

DT: We do it all the time. If someone has killed someone, do we charge them with murder or manslaughter? Well, it all depends upon the INTENT, doesn't it?RK: Here your arguement falls apart. "Motivation", "motive" and "intent" are not interchangeable concepts. Historically we have looked at INTENT, but now legislators are prompting us to look instead at motivation (not to be confused with motive). Moreover they want us to ascertain motivation not simply to help explain and understand the crime, but to DEFINE the crime.

Motivation: a motivating force, stimulus, or influence; incentive, drive.

Motive: something (as a need or desire) that causes a person TO ACT.

Intent: volition, aim

...Examples...

Motivation: You have a deep seated hatred for Unitarians. (You think the Unitarians are taking all the best jobs.)

Motive: You think that burning down your Unitarian neighbor's house would terrorize the Unitarian community. The thought of seeing your neighbor's house in flames gets you off the couch and you start looking for matches.

Intent: You throw a lighted torch through your neighbor's front window with one specific goal in mind.

So — As motivation morphs into a motive, contemplation begins to give rise to an action.

Motivation has the potential to get the ball rolling...motive sends it on its way (and the intent is the target).

True, in the process of establishing culpability, we look at "means, motive, and opportunity." Tangible incentives are examined. Example: A man in Massachusetts kills his husband so he can collect on a life insurance policy of which he is the beneficiary. ...You don't have to try to read minds in order to connect the dots in that situation. And you don't have to criminalize his thoughts or speech in order to go on to make a conviction.

Another example: An outspoken, rabidly chauvanist person of the female gender kills a male in order to strike fear in the hearts of the male-gender community. Can we reliably determine the suspected MOTIVATIONS, prejudices, perceptions and biases that led up to this crime? Do we take her outspoken views into account or do we exclude this information? Can we be confident about our assessment? So confident that we can take this information and use it to determine how the crime is prosecuted and punished? If we do, what does that accomplish?

Hate crimes legislation is unique (and dangerous) in it's unprecedented approach. Historically, we've determined culpability by examining "means, motive and opportunity". Now, with hate crimes legislation, we DEFINE a crime by examining "bias, motivation and prejudice." Historically we established intent so that we could choose appropriate punishment. Now, with hate crimes legislation, we're making decisions about punishment on the basis of perception.

Motivation, prejudice, perception and bias are criminalized. Is the First Amendment safe if THOUGHTS can be criminalized?

RK: When we classify crimes according to motivation, prejudice and perception, are we not entering into the realm of thoughtcrime?

DT: No, as I've noted above, prosecutors delve into motivation and prejudices all the time.RK: Delving into motive and prejudice as a PART of the process of understanding a crime is one thing. Speculating about motivation and bias is quite another. When we look at a person's motive, we're looking at something that is linked to action. We can look at that objectively by evaluating evidence. When we look at motivation, were evaluating thoughts.

...You've answered the easier, rhetorical questions. How about the rest of them?

RightKlik said...

LB: You might be right, but I'll paraphrase George Hull: "There's a Conyers born every minute!"

Dan Trabue said...

Okay, I'll address the others, but let's be clear on the first few... You admit that terrorism IS a crime where we prosecute based on intent, yes? If so, we are in agreement. Sometimes, intent matters in the course of prosecution of a crime and we have legitimate reasons to prosecute those suspects for the additional crimes of terrorism AND of hate crimes.

You also asked (and to me, these are the easy questions)...

# The Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 would provide for technical, forensic, prosecutorial and financial assistance (up to $100,000)... Would this not give local and state law enforcement the incentive to prosecute cases involving preferred victims to the exclusion and neglect of less valuable victims?

I don't think so, but we certainly ought to always keep an eye on how our dollars are used.

There are additional resources available for the prosecution of terrorism-related crimes, too. Are you suspicious that are gov't agencies are abusing those resources?

# Should we grant preferential treatment to all persons who have been targeted for their sexual orientation? What about pedophiles?

No, not for pedophiles. That's ridiculous. Pedophiles are not a protected class of people, rightly so. On the other hand, there is no reason to target people of a particular race, sexual orientation or religion for hate crimes and those who do can be righteously prosecuted.

# Federal hate crimes legislation recognizes prejudice against race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity (a new one), and disability. Why not recognize prejudice against age, body type, political orientation, and veteran status?

Is there a problem with people out there oppressively persecuting people specifically because of their age or body type? If so, perhaps they should be added. As far as I know, it's not a problem that needs to be dealt with.

On the other hand, persecution based on religion, race and sexual orientation IS a known problem.

RightKlik said...

DT: Sometimes, intent matters...
RK: Yes, but intent and motivation are not to be confused.
DT: There are additional resources available for the prosecution of terrorism-related crimes, too.
RK: Allocating resources on the basis of the nature of the crime is one thing; allocating resources on the basis of the special status of the victim is quite another.
DT: Pedophiles are not a protected class of people, rightly so.
RK: Anyone who is a victim of a violent crime related to sexual-orientation "bias" is protected.
DT: Is there a problem with people out there oppressively persecuting people....
RK: Doesn't matter. And that's the point. It shouldn't matter. If a liberal murders an conservative because of their political orientation, is the conservative any less dead because systematic persecution has not (yet) been identified? That's the beauty of the 14th Amendment. It doesn't matter whether you're part of a big minority or a small one (including the smallest, most vulnerable minority--the individual). Equal protection...no ifs ands or buts.

Dan Trabue said...

"Equal" does not always equal "Just."

Back in the day, they tried to sell poor black schools on the concept of "Equal but separate," but that solution lacked justice. Sometimes, in the search for justice, adaptations need to be made.

If a teacher in a classroom were to say, "I MUST treat all students equally," then that teacher would refuse to give a braille book to a blind kid, because it's not "equal."

Equality does not always equal justice, and justice should be our goal.

RightKlik said...

DT: Your idea of justice is very dangerous. If the law isn't blind, who determines what is just? The majority? A benevolent dictator? An all-knowing oligarchy?

If you disregard the rights of the smallest and most vulnerable minority, be prepared to live under tyranny.

Dan Trabue said...

I must say I'm puzzled by your response, it does not seem to be addressing my comments.

You think it unjust to treat people differently based on circumstances?

My contention is this: Sometimes as a matter of justice, you can't treat people or circumstances the same. Equality does not equal justice.

Do you agree or disagree with this? This seems like an obvious notion to me. Again, look at my illustration: The teacher with blind children, should she treat them equally with the other students and not allow them the "special" privilege of having books in braille?

I think we can all agree that Justice demands UNequal treatment in that case. Equality does not always equal justice.

I can't believe you'd actually disagree with that notion.

RightKlik said...

DT: I can't answer your questions with a simple yes or no. I really don't know what definition of justice you're working with. When dealing with questions of government, I'd stick with the legal definition of just, i.e., "legally correct." The whole discussion started off with the issue of hate crimes legislation. Is federal hate crimes legislation just? No, it's not legally correct, or just, because it violates the 14th Amendment Equal protection clause.

If you are working with some other definition of justice, the answer might be different.

JaneLovesJesus said...

Want a scary, unintended (or is it?) consequence of the dopey 'hate crimes' mentality?

Say a boy defends himself against a same-sex sexual assault. All the assailant has to do is claim it was not self-defense, but an unprovoked 'hate crime.'

It's "He said / he said." Who ya' gonna' believe? And the 'hate-crime' is a federal crime with a more severe penalty. Does the boy read the Bible? Belong to a conservative church? Gasp!! That's evidence against him.

Dan Trabue said...

Ummm, as with any crime, there has to be evidence. Heresay does not convict.

Don't fearmonger.

RightKlik said...

JLJ: All kinds of "unintended" consequences arise when government creates special classes of people.

DT: Anticipating abuse of law = fear mongering? Do you think those who anticipate abuse of the Patriot Act are fear mongering?