Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Just in case you missed my point earlier....

Hate speech as a crime is an oxymoron in a society that values freedom of expression sufficiently to enshrine it in the Bill of Rights.

But there are plenty of morons out there who support the idea.

Hate crimes rest on the rather dubiously assumption that it is somehow more wrong to commit first degree murder against my neighbor because he belongs to an ethnicity that I dislike than it is to kill him because he kicked my dog.

Intent, with relation to criminal guilt, is primarily useful to establishing the difference between willful acts and acts committed through culpable negligence, or to be offered in extenuation or exculpation. Other than that, your intent cannot make you any more or any less guilty of a crime.

If you had trouble with that paragraph, you probably think hate crimes are a good idea.


Duffy said...

Silly me always assumed that all murders had an element of "hate" in them.

Hube said...

Steve: But isn't "intent" always considered at trials for various crimes? That's why there's murder one, two, three, manslaughter, etc.

I've come to understand, if not necessarily agree, with the argument that hate crimes are just another form of "intent." My main hassle w/them is that they're ridiculously selectively applied.

Steve Newton said...

Intent in the sense you are using it is whether or not the person intended to commit murder or did so in a fit of passion--not the reason why the murderous impulse existed in the first place.

Hate crimes change this into an editorial judgment about motivation rather than actual intent to commit the crime.

We are talking completely different uses of the word "intent" in legal terms.

Hube said...

Hate crimes change this into an editorial judgment about motivation rather than actual intent to commit the crime.

Indeed. This sentence says a mouthful.

But I guess I tend to vacillate between a full understanding based, say, on the following scenario:

A guy burns a cross and claims this is merely a protest for what he feels is an erosion of First Amendment liberties in the US. Besides charging him with arson (are there degrees of such?), they charge him with a hate crime for obvious reasons.

Those who favor hate crimes would argue that the image of the burning cross is obvious and despite the man's claims it is clear racial intimidation. I presume you would say this is a mere editorial judgment, and, since the man said what his intention was and there was nothing in the man's actions and/or history to doubt it, charging him with a hate crime is ridiculous.

Jim Fryar said...

Hate crimes are essentially a judgement on the public approval rating of what can be as little as a perception of the possible motivation for the crime.

In other words hate crimes are nothing less than criminalizing non PC thinking.