So, Congress has dropped gays and lesbians from being added to those already protected by hate crime legislation. It's kind of pathetic that we're still at a state where politically, it's still radical to think that if you bash someone's skull in because they are a woman, of a specific race or a specific religion, that's bad. But if you're gay or lesbian...eh, not so much.
I'm torn on this. Overall, I view hate crime legislation as I do the death penalty: if its goal is to deter that type of crime, it's a failure. Some guy who's bound and determined to jump a person walking out from a gay bar isn't going to think to themselves: "I was going to go Romper Stomper on you, but from reading the newspaper, I remember that if I do this, the penalty may be more severe than if I was to jump you for no apparent reason." Also, if we are defining a hate crime, then what is a love crime?
The other argument is purely emotional. People sometimes say: "If someone comes up and attacks you to the point where you're either dead or you're badly injured, does it matter why? You're still either dead or royally messed up." Sort of. If you're laid up, you're going to have that going through your head: you were attacked for who you were - what people see you as on the surface. To me, getting attacked from out of the blue for no apparent reason is almost a relief. I could just chalk it up to that person being crazy - it could have happened to any one.
It's amazing that our representatives are so afraid of the fringe that is Focus on the Family and Pat Robertson that they're so afraid to even acknowledge that it may not be Christian to deliberately attack gays and lesbians. Supporters of the bill said they gave up because they didn't have the votes. Funny, this is the same talk about ending the war in Iraq. When Republicans were in the majority, they bullied many-a-Democrat to give tax cuts to the rich, enacting welfare reform and going to war when we didn't have all of the facts. When Democrats are in power, the most they've been able to do is pass a minimum wage hike at the height of their momentum. Not that a wage hike wasn't a necessary thing, just that when it comes to occupying the bully pulpit, Dems have nothing on Republicans.
I always thought the logic behind hate crimes legislation was that if someone attacks a gay person, they are not just attacking that one person. It is a message crime - it sends a message to the gay community that you are not safe. You could be next. It is the same with racially based crimes. The perpetrator is attempting to send fear to the entire community. For that reason, it had a more severe punishment.
The right likes to say that all violent crimes are "hate crimes," and to some extent, that is true. But an attack like what was done to Matthew Shephard goes beyond the violence towards that one man. That was done as a warning to all gays.
Once again, the Democrats fail to stand up on principle and they let the Republicans have their narrow-minded way. How sad.
A good thing to remember about hate crime legislation:
It does not really exist for the immediate victim. It exists for the community as a whole.
If a crime is a hate crime, it is because it not only causes damage to an individual, but also causes damage to the community.
Think Jena 6. Should a crime that affects one person be treated the same as a crime that (while only affecting one person immediatly) eventualy tears the whole community apart?
Hate crime legislation's intent is for the punishment to match the crime. And crimes that are based on hate tend to do more damage than crimes that are not. Hate crime legislation is not really meant as a deterrent, just meant to modify the punishment to match the crime.
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