If man A punches man B in the chops silently, it's assault and battery. If he says "You fucking Icelander," during the assault it's a hate crime with potentially far higher penalties.
Does that make any sense to you?
Hate crime legislation is subject to a lot of abuse by prosecutors wanting to put a big feather in their cap.
Case in point: the recent conviction of the leader and some members of a minor sub-sect of The Amish for cutting off the beards of men and the hair of women who had left his group. To my mind, this was a case of simple assault and didn't deserve the money and time devoted to assuring that the leader and some of his followers might spend their lives in a Federal prison.
The law applied, intended to stop such things as lynchings and church burnings is applied to punish some men for cutting hair.
Isn't it ridiculous? I always support the religious folk against the government because "there but for fortune go you or I" someday.
I guess, in your view, equality under the law is NOT an inalienable right, since you are willing to alienate it.
To be protected by the government to the full practical extent is something I think everyone regards as a right. Do you still not see the issue? In order to protect one group more, the government is logically protecting another group less. Inequally.
That's like saying that in order to protect victims of petty theft equally to victims of murder, we need to execute pick pockets.
A guy who flies into a rage one day when an argument gets out of hand, and who them proceeds to beat his opponent to death, is the sort of guy who can perhaps be rehabilitated through anger management, and likely abstaining from intoxicants.
The guy who coldly calculates the murder of his rival for a promotion is a very different sort of murderer.
In both cases the victim is dead, and in neither case would the length of prison term be much of a deterrent. Protecting the rest of the population, however, is best served by looking at the potential victims of each type of criminal should either re-offend.
I'm having trouble applying your examples to the topic at hand because I don't think hate crimes are necessarily terrorism. I find that argument insupportable.
A hate crime, to be terrorism (in the contemporary sense of the word) must have a political objective. You're telling me that the redneck who drags a gay or black man behind is pickup is some sort of political operative?
I don't think so. I think the hate in the aforemetioned example is focused on the proximate victim of the act not a wider audience, which is what distinguishes it from a true terrorist act which, by its nature, ignores the proximate victim. In fact, the terrorist may not hate the proximate victim(s) at all!
Then you haven't read a word I've said.
Forgive me. I went into the dentist office today with a bad toothache and got a course of antibiotics and an Rx for Vicodin. I fear I'm a little under the influence, so perhaps I should have replied tomorrow or whenever I'm not medicated.
I have actually been wondering whether I'm "getting" your argument.
Perhaps you could summarize briefly where you think we differ because I see some agreements and I think I see some areas of disagreement. Then, I will try to reply more rationally.
I would prefer to see all crimes treated at the same level. As Samantha observed, a hate crime law can keep people off the streets longer. Well, if someone attacks a 22 year old straight male, what would be wrong with keeping his attacker off the streets just as long. What is the argument AGAINST that?
Beyond that, whether harsh punishment has much deterrent effect at all on crime is questionable. Take per capita murder rates. I looked at this list of states arranged from highest to lowest murder rates. Then I checked another list of states with capital punishment. Of the top 10 most violent states, just one, New Mexico, does not have capital punishment. Capital punishment, the harshest crime in the toolbox either has little effect in terms of deterrence. An argument might almost be made the it seems to CAUSE homicide!
I just think that all citizens deserve the best protection the government can provide and that the government shouldn't be picking winners and losers in that regard.
I think you are somewhat missing the point of jail sentences these days. There is a difference between sentences for first and second degree murder because one crime is considered more heinous than the other, not because one victim is considered less valuable than the other, and not because either sentence delivers some proportionate amount of deterrence. This is the point of hate crime laws - to elevate what would otherwise be considered second degree felonies to first because there was, in point of fact, premeditation even though the specific victim was unknown.
Personally I'm more interested in seeing a prison system that actually delivers rehabilitation but I'm not even sure that is possible in many cases of violent crime.
Let's just stick to the case of murder to keep all things equal.
As near as I can tell, you feel that all sentences should be equal (and likely maximal) in order to provide 'equal protection' for all ranges of victims. To give one murderer more time is to say that his victim is somehow more important.
What I'm saying is that our system doesn't weigh the importance of victims, it looks at the implications of the crime and the intentions behind it. This is why we have several grades of murder (first, second, manslaughter, felony homicide, etc, etc). We aren't just counting bodies, we are engaging the risk posed by a particular type of offender.