May 11, 2007

Dopey WNJ Letter of the Week 2

Wilmington's William A. Stoddart inadvertently makes the case against hate crimes legislation all the while excoriating black preachers for being against them:

I read that American black bishops, at their annual national meeting, will oppose gay hate crime legislation pending in Congress. The pending bill would add gay-motivated physical attacks to other protected minority groups.

If blacks or Jews are attacked or murdered, under present law this constitutes a hate crime. Higher penalties are accessed.

OK, now you might think that Mr. Stoddart is just using blacks and Jews as mere examples here. But read on further (my emphasis):

Hate crime legislation is not tied to freedom of speech. It simply targets vicious attacks on minorities based solely on their minority status.

And there you have it! The very reason hate crimes are, while perhaps a good idea, politically passed and then selectively enforced -- for minorities only. So, for Mr. Stoddart, it wouldn't be a "hate crime" if a bunch of blacks targeted and then beat up a white guy solely because he is white. After all, he is not a minority!

I initially was completely against any notion of hate crimes legislation; however, I was swayed by the arguments using the notion of "intent." Intent plays a role in every crime, and helps to determine severity of sentence. If intent can play a role in "standard" crimes, why cannot mere "hate" towards a person (or group) merely because of their race/ethnicity also play a role?

But the problem -- not unlike the mainstream media's own bias -- is that hate crimes statutes are selectively enforced. As Stoddart says, the perception (among people and law enforcement) is that hate crimes laws are only for minorities.

That's "equal justice"?

Posted by Hube at May 11, 2007 03:35 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

I agree in the respect that a "hate crime" should not be based on perception but on intent. If when arrested by a police officer the attacker says, "That's what he gets for being a faggot", then there just MIGHT be more than a perception that it was hate motivated.
No, Hube, hate crimes, although mostly commited on minorities, should NOT be on the books to only protect minorities. If I as a white person was attacked while walking through a black neighborhood by a gang of blacks but not robbed--the hate crime possibility might also be the reason.
What I was talking about was due to rampant homophobia in the US, it continues to be difficult to get "sexual orientation" added as a class of folks that are often singled out. This in no way implies that if a member of a majority group is victimized he too could qualify under the hate crime provision--if his race was deemed the motivating factor. I was in no way implying that hate crimes should be "selectively enforced".

Posted by: William Albert Stoddart at January 8, 2009 01:54 AM

Thank you for the clarification.

Posted by: Hube at January 8, 2009 02:54 PM