Debate:Hate crime laws are stupid

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The reason(s) for targeting a victim should be irrelevant to the punishment of the crime because I do not believe any additional pain or suffering is truly bestowed upon the victim.

Targets of bias-motivated crime may by distressed by the motive, but I believe targets of random acts would feel similarly distressed by the lack thereof. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 19:56, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

Are you talking about U.S. hate crime laws or other ones? Because I understand that the U.S. ones were mainly set up as a procedural thing, to bypass corrupt local courts. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 19:58, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
I wasn't really aware of that, so I suppose I am attacking hate crime laws in general. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 20:00, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Myself, I am quite skeptical of laws that attempt to push a political agenda by punishing some motives more than others. Thomas Jefferson said in the same letter where he coined "separation of church and state": "The legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions." Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 20:06, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for the quote. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 20:11, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
As has been pointed out to me before, we do punish people differently based on their intentions. Manslaughter (unintentional murder) is punished differently from intentional murder. Using this basis, hate crime laws at least have some precedent. Z3rotalk 20:18, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
That is not really a parallel, since manslaughter vs. murder is "no motive" vs. "any motive," whereas hate crime laws consider one particular motive vs. another. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 20:19, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
I'd argue that the distinction is between "motive" and "intent". — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 20:23, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
(EC)That depends on how you look at it. No motive is different from accidental death. A crazy person may kill someone for no reason. It wasn't accidental, but they had no motive. Thus, we do punish based on motives, at least somewhat. Z3rotalk 20:24, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
I think the "intent" vs. "motive" distinction is what I was trying to get across. Z3ro, modifications to what you said? Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 20:26, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
I don't see a real difference between motive and intent with regards to criminal procedings. Motive is what matters, while intent is only considered tangentally. You may intend to develop a cure for cancer, but if your drug ends up killing millions, you will be tried accordingly. Z3rotalk 20:28, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
This is a horrible analogy, but if I really love to speed (or really hate speed limits) should I be punished more than you (who let's say doesn't hate speed limits or love speeding) for the exact same crime? — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 20:32, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Yes, if you believe in rehabilitation, the person who loves to speed should be punished more than the person who does not. Z3rotalk 20:44, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Would that presume that the person who loves to speed commits more violations? — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 21:10, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Of course not, but the person who loves to speed would require a more severe consequence (on average) to discourage them from speeding than the person who does not like to speed. Z3rotalk 21:12, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
I just don't think a legal system can afford to be that presumptuous. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 21:21, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Yet it happens that way all the time. Z3rotalk 21:33, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
(EC) Or to rephrase, whether your motive in making a deadly drug was to cure cancer or to kill millions, you would be tried in the same manner, so motive does not matter...? Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 20:33, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

The two terms are very similar, and I'm not a lawyer, so forgive my lay-person understanding, but motive is why you caused the crime, intent is what you meant to happen. I could be motivated to rob someones house because I'm poor, and not intend to kill the owner; motive would be no money, intent no murder. I'm rambling now, but I stand by my statement that motive can and is punished differently. Z3rotalk 20:43, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

How would the motive of not having money be punished? — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 20:48, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
With less of a sentence or more social programs than for someone like Bernie Madoff who was rich and still stole because he was greedy. Z3rotalk 20:49, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
So if I steel from you because I'm poor I get a lesser sentence. If I steel from you because I'm greedy I get a harsher sentence. What if I'm poor and greedy? — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 20:58, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps not a lesser sentence, but maybe enrolled in a program to give you job skills so you don't have to steal again. And if you're poor and greedy you get the greedy sentence ;) Z3rotalk 21:02, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
This is why I dislike these sort of laws; the lighter treatment of the poor thief is pushing an agenda that demonizes rich people and greed, and however much one agrees with that agenda, putting it in law is an entirely separate question. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 21:19, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

As it is, we punish crimes differently depending on the motivations of the criminal--thus premeditated murder and manslaughter are different crimes even though the victim is just as dead in either case. Given that that notion is founational to criminal law in the first place, I see no problem with expanding it to deal with the fact that some victims of crime are targetted as victims because of a particular set of motivations on the part of the perpetrator. Amin7b5 21:04, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

Murder and manslaughter are determined by intent, which is a separate concept from motive. You can't have motive without intent, but you can have intent without motive. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 21:06, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Motive and intent are close enough that they are interchangable for the purposes of this discussion, thus rendering that argument useless. Z3rotalk 21:09, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
I believe motive and intent are wholly different legal concepts. I don't know what kind of authority we can appeal to here for an answer.... — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 21:11, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
I'm sure they are, but without getting too technical, they make little difference here. We are discussing why a person committed a particular act, and if that should be punished/not, right? Z3rotalk 21:14, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Shifting a little here, does the potential for punishing why lead to more possibility of a false positive? If I'm a Nazi and I coincidentally mug a Jew without the motive of antisemitism, how would I be protected from undue prosecution? — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 21:19, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
That is another problem with hate crime laws; unlike concrete actions, what was in the person's head at the time of the act is almost impossible to prove. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 21:23, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Usually we don't have to get into their heads to prove what they were thinking; shouting racial slurs is enough. Protecting against false positives would be part of the justice process, just like proving guilt. Z3rotalk 21:34, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

For what it's worth, I thin "intent" might better describe what i was getting at...Amin7b5 21:15, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

(EC) Intent is not "why," but "what" — what the perpetrator intended to do rather than why s/he intended to do it. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 21:17, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Think of Hate Crime laws as what they really are, laws against Domestic Terrorism. Laws in our country often deal with intent. "murder" vs. "manslaughter" vs. "murder in the first, second or third". misdemeanor domestic violence vs., felony domestic violence. First degree Child abuse v. 3 degree (or incidental, ignorant abuse - in that you didn't really realize it was wrong to leave your child in the car). The reasons for what you do are virtually *always* considered, when asking a jury to consider appropriate charges and penalties of the charges. I've never understood why people get so up in arms about hate crimes, as if they were the only crime where intent mattered.--Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot"«I think like a genius, I write like a distinguished author, and I speak like a child. --V.Nabokov» 21:21, 15 May 2009 (UTC) (Edit conflict)
The distinctions you are talking about deal with intent, while hate crimes deal with motive. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 21:24, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Based on your own description, intent is what while motive is why. The intent of a parent leaving their kid in the car is what, and is the same in each type of legislation. The why (to punish, on accident, etc) is what changes the sentence. Z3rotalk 21:36, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
How does the motive change anything? Either you intended harm or you didn't. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 22:19, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
As simple as I can think of it: If you start to tell me "I'm going to kill Z3ro because..." I don't think it matters how you finish that sentence. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 22:25, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

(EC)Wait. It was my understanding that hate crimes had the effect to intimidate members of the targeted group and wasn't merely a matter of intent/motive/whatever. Put that way it seems like the above discussion is a bit irrelevant. FlareTalk 21:30, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

In my area the Hate crime is meant to be an extra charge where the crime is specifically motivated by the race/religion/sexual orientation of the victim. In practice though its applied for any crime against one of the listed groups, like mug a gay guy its a hate crime when in reality the mugger didnt know or care. That breaks the concept of equality before the law which 9is not a good outcome. Hamster 21:44, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
This is one consequence of the problem with proof I mentioned above; if the laws do not require very stringent proof such as "yelling racial slurs," etc., the system is wide open to abuse. There have been some recent cases of abuse in Canada. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 21:50, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Such as? Amin7b5 22:42, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Muslim pressure-groups using the laws as a vehicle to levy blasphemy charges, mostly; see here for one example. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 03:48, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

I don't see the abuse. Amin7b5 14:42, 18 May 2009 (UTC)

Why is it that those against hate crimes tend to be white, male, straight, middle class and without a controversial religious affiliation (by which I mean fundamentalist Christian in the middle east of fundamentalist Muslim in the west)? Silver Sloth 15:06, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
Amin7b5, firstly, the people who helped make the Canadian hate-crime laws in the first place (Alan Borovoy, for instance) have stated that they did not intend those laws to be used to squelch freedom of the press; secondly, it is generally recognized that to charge someone with blasphemy through any means is a violation of "human rights," not an act upholding them.
Silver Sloth, do you mean "against hate crimes" or "against hate-crime laws"? Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 15:59, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
Listener, I searched the article you linked to for the word "blasphemy," and it did not seem to appear, though the phrases "flagrantly Islamophobic" and "subjects Canadian Muslims to hatred and contempt" did. Those are, of course, not the same thing as "blasphemy." where does the question of "blasphemy" come in? Amin7b5 16:11, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
The fellow who brought the complaint, Mohamed Elmasry, has in the past made anti-Semitic remarks prominently enough that his university compelled him to apologize, which he did, very insincerely, going by how he whined about it in the media afterwards. Much doubt can thus be cast upon the hypothesis that he brought the complaint in aid of stopping "hatred and contempt."
There was also an earlier case in which the Western Standard magazine was the subject of a human-rights complaint for publishing the Jyllands-Posten cartoons. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 16:49, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
Uhh the validity of an argument does not rest on whom makes the argument. A Nazi could opposed genocide, does him being a Nazi make it so that Genocide is cool? Also White men say it because they're the ones often arrested because many people think if you criticize a minority you are evilTheDarkMaster2 (talk) 17:57, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
Being a Nazi and being opposed to genocide are ideologically contradictory and thus cannot exist. If you're a Nazi, you're sympathetic to genocide, there's no other way around it. БaбyЛuigiOнФire🚓(T|C) 18:03, 19 November 2018 (UTC)

EZ edit button[edit]

Well, at this point we're talking about a few entirely different things, I think. The fact that Elmasry is himself an a-hole is irrelevant to the charges against Macleans and how the courts ruled on it (that's an adhom on your part...). The original conversation had to do with hate-crime legislation (in terms of, say, compounding penalties for crimes such as assault if those crimes were committed because of a racist/homophobic/sexist motivation/intent on the part of the perpetrator. That's one thing. Legislation concerning freedom of the press/freedom of expression and the right of the Western Standard to publish cartoons that some see as silly and others as blasphemous may be tangentially related, but are really part of a different (if perhaps somewhat overlapping) debate. Amin7b5 17:15, 18 May 2009 (UTC)

True, the Western Standard case probably makes a better example of the blasphemy issue. However, in a discussion of the abuse of hate-crime laws by certain parties, the motivation of those who bring the charges is very much a relevant point. The concept of the SLAPP is quite similar: plaintiffs are unconcerned whether they would win their case on the merits, as they have different motivations for bringing their lawsuits. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 17:25, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
So because some laws get abused we should just throw them out entirely? do you come to a full stop at every stop sign? Declare all of your income to the IRS? Always drive 55? Amin7b5 17:36, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
You seem to be confusing the ideas of breaking laws and abusing them. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 02:46, 19 May 2009 (UTC)

Moar discussion[edit]

If you start to tell me "I'm going to kill Z3ro because..." I don't think it matters how you finish that sentence. -Neveruse513; To continue this discussion, this is an extreme example meant to distract from less extreme examples. Try for example "I'm going to speed because..." or "I'm going to break into this house because..." in each of those examples, there are reasons that can go into them that make there punishments less severe.

Also consider that the current justice system does take into account more that just the act commited. First time offenders get shorter sentences than repeat offenders, and younger kids get longer sentences than older kids. To say that nothing but the crime itself should be considered would require a complete reworking of the justice system. Z3rotalk 15:40, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

It's easy to look at this argument in terms of "big" crimes and say "but murder is already a crime", but look at smaller crimes. Drawing a swastika on a synagogue and saying "fuck you jews! Die" is *just* grafitti, right?--Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot"«I think like a genius, I write like a distinguished author, and I speak like a child. --V.Nabokov» 15:17, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
If you replace Jews with men and replace the synagogue wall with a certain book that became semi-infamous, would you change your tune? Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 15:51, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
Late to the discussion. Is there a parallel here with the apparent trend for victims friends and/or relatives to make statements as to how crime has affected them? If made at any stage before sentencing, this puts the worth of a person with no friends/relatives as less than someone with lots. Similarly if I am mugged, does it make any difference if the mugger shouts "Gimme your money, lesbo bitch"? A friend of mine had that happen to her about 18 months ago and it didn't affect the way she felt, the mugging was the crime she worried about. (incidentally, it was his shouting that that led to his apprehension) As to the writing of things on walls, that should come under some statute like incitement to cause a disturbance of the peace under non hate crime legislation, surely. This message brought to you by: Toastrespondand honey 16:07, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
LIstener, to me, domestic terrorism is anything designed to cause fear in a class of people, be they jews, gays, christians, or Klan members. If I go to a Klan site, and say "all Klan should die, and I'm after you", then yes, it's a hate crime.
And by the way, a "work of art" published on your own time, is not a crime. If you went to a meeting of "men R us" and hit someone, with said book, and said "men are scum and deserve to die" then it's a hate crime. and the author could be held accountable the way websites were for the murder of abortion doctors, whose faces were posted under a "wanted" sign.--Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot"«I think like a genius, I write like a distinguished author, and I speak like a child. --V.Nabokov» 16:50, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
If writing a book "on one's own time," whatever that means, is not a crime, then why is it suddenly a crime to have written the book when someone else grabs it and cites it in an attempt to justify a murder? Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 16:59, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
It depends, that's why we have courts. There duel obligations here. "the right to free speech", and the fact that you are "inciting others to take illegal action". It's up to a Judge (and despite what most people outside of the law rackets thing, most judges are at the very least, competent) and jury to determine if the work in question was "telling" people to kill someone, or was just an artistic statement about the world and the role of women. The same is true with hate crimes in general. Though one poster here says "hate crimes are being used on anyone who is in a protected class" that is rarely the truth. The DA may look for a hate crime to be added, but if you look at the rates of actual convictions of hate crimes, they are quite low. It is a hard thing to prove, cause you need to show (in most states) that the act was not just coincidentally against a person of color, but was infact a "message" to all persons of color.--Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot"«I think like a genius, I write like a distinguished author, and I speak like a child. --V.Nabokov» 17:06, 18 May 2009 (UTC)

As succinctly as I can put it...[edit]

As long as individuals are limited in terms of their material well-being, singled out for violence or discrimination or denied full participation in civil society by virtue of their identity (...and they are: Women make less than men--there is such a thing as economic violence. More blacks than whites go to jail. Women are under-represented in academic, legal and medical circles and politically. There is one black senator, and few native Americans, Muslims, Hispanic Americans or what-have-you sit on the bench or in high office as compared to whites. Women get raped far more often then men. Gays get bashed because they are gay.), then a society that makes claims towards justice, democracy and freedom needs to use the law to account for and rectify the situation. Hate crime laws are one part of acknowledging that identity is a crucial determining factor in terms of quality of life and basic human security. Until such time that identity is, in practical terms, irrelevant to the kind of life someone will lead, the law needs to protect individuals against injustice on the basis of identity. That's why I continue to support hate crimes legislation and value that sort of protection over freedom of expression or freedom of speech. Amin7b5 17:35, 18 May 2009 (UTC)

Hate crime legislation does not infringe freedom of speech; it's akin to shouting fire in a theater. However, for me, freedom of speech is the more important of the two, and if it came down to it, I would gladly take freedom of speech over hate crime legislation. Z3rotalk 17:55, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
I agree with Z3ro here. Three reasons why:
  1. When supporters of hate-crime laws start insisting that these laws should trump freedom of speech, they are biting the hand that feeds them, because they use their freedom of speech to advocate for these laws.
  2. If these laws curtail freedom of speech and are subsequently abused, there is less opportunity to speak up about the abuse, as is the case anytime freedom of speech is curtailed.
  3. Judge Lowell A. Reed, striking down the Child Online Protection Act, wrote that "Perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection." Similarly, if hate-crime laws curtail freedom of speech, they may "protect people from injustice" — but they do not protect enough that their subjects enjoy unfettered freedom of speech. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 03:06, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
Never mind freedom of speech then. It distracts from my central argument--as long as identity is a means by which people are targeted for victimization, things like hate crime laws are a necessary step in protecting individuals from that sort of targeting. and as was pointed out above, freedom of speech and hate crime laws are different questions with some overlapping issues. Feel free to read the above paragraph as ending-- "That's why I continue to support hate crimes legislation and value that sort of protection." full stop. Amin7b5 03:29, 19 May 2009 (UTC)