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Abolish hate crime laws
To the Editor:
The September 20 IDS Staff editorial praised the U.S. House of Representatives for including "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" in federal hate crime laws.
There are several problems with law. First, the federal government should not be in the business of dealing with local crime at all. Federal involvement in local law enforcement has more serious implications for individual liberty than whether or not a specific group is protected under so-called "hate crime" laws. While right now the federal government may only be funding local efforts against "hate crimes", now that the door is open there is room for further expansion of federal power. Do we really want the same people who passed the "Patriot Act" dealing with local crime?
Second, the entire notion of "hate crimes" should be wiped from our criminal justice system. While the IDS is right that intent is the key to our criminal justice system, intent is not the same thing as motivation. While most people rightly recognize that racism is immoral, society should not be in the business of punishing thoughts and beliefs, no matter how offensive those thoughts and beliefs might be. And, like it or not, disapproval of homosexual behavior is very different from disapproving of someone based on skin pigmentation.
Third, labeling one crime a "hate crime" and punishing it more severely while an identical crime does not get extra punishment or attention sends the message that some victims of crime are more important than others. Creating special rights for people who are targeted by "hate crimes" does not advance the cause of equal rights.
Instead of setting up special categories of crime based on motivation (as opposed to intent), the criminal justice system should punish all violent crime as harshly as Constitutionally permissible. People who commit violent crimes and terrorize innocent people do not have a place in our society; that is true regardless of what their motivation was.Scott Tibbs