should hate crimes carry a higher punishment?
  • mungomungo March 2012
  • woerwoer April 2012
    They should carry a lesser punishment because hate is a better excuse than love or indifference to harm someone.
  • hexenwulfhexenwulf April 2012
    My my my mungo what a question. I like it. I could probably write a small (semi-literate) book in trying to answer it. Z I like that answer because it gave me pause and also made me laugh a bit.

    Here we go... Two guys on the same day get the crap beaten out of them. Both have three broken ribs, a broken nose, a mild concussion and two teeth knocked out. For the sake of argument say the incidents occurred within mere feet and mere moments of each other.

    The Police respond and take the the two individuals responsible for the beatings into custody. They ask them why they did it. The first guy responds "I did it because he was being a dick and he said my momma was fat.". The other guy responds "I did it because he was (insert nationality, creed, sexual preference, religion etc.. here).".

    I posit that the punishment for the crimes should be the same. The same crime was committed, why should the punishment differ?

    Well, lets see... They were not the same crime. One was committed because an individual verbally provoked the confrontation with his yo'momma so fat jokes. The other was committed not because of any personal disagreement/provocation or interaction but merely because of the place he was born/what he believed/who and how he worshiped/personal lifestyle etc... .

    Now on to the answer or lack thereof (I am still pondering). As the results of the two different crimes were identical I would find it difficult to look the two victims in the eye and tell one that his aggressor was getting 3 months in prison and then tell the other that his aggressor was getting 6 months in prison. That would imply to them that we as a society placed a higher value on one above the other. Justice is supposed to be blind.

    However as I said before the SAME crime was not committed in both cases merely the results of the two crimes were identical. Should the punishment be the same? No. As I said it is not the same crime, therefore the punishment should not be the same. In one case one guy "asked for it" (not literally) and in the other the guy was just existing, can't really think of a better way to phase it.

    So I guess yes a harsher punishment for the "hate" crime. The results were the same, but the motivation was not.

    ok.... gonna stop now..... still want to write.

    NICE QUESTION! cant wait to see the responses.
  • woerwoer April 2012
    "I posit that the punishment for the crimes should be the same. The same crime was committed, why should the punishment differ? "

    Your argument that a crime is the combination of the action taken and the mindset going into that action is a valid disproof. Here is another counterargument. Ideally the consequence to a crime is supposed to be drastic to an extent so as to prevent it from happening again. A punishment to counteract a crime resulting from indifference or whim or something or that sort does not need to be as drastic as something as ingrained as racial/sexist/etc. hatred. If you make the punishment the same, either you're over-punishing the first guy or under-punishing the second guy.

    That is certainly an over-simplication. For one, it assumes a single length of jail time will prevent the crime again irrespective of the person. Of course, that is not always the case. Perhaps one guy has been in jail half his life and is willing to take six months for beating up some guy staring at him funny so that it would take more to counteract him performing the crime again, whereas some child who stumbled on Mein Kampf and hit his gay classmate with a brick will change his ways after a night in jail. In this case, the hate crime is solved by a lesser sentence than the one which isn't a hate crime.

    The idea to take from this is first define the purpose of punishing. That helps frame the argument.
  • redboneredbone April 2012
    Z brings up an interesting point. The whole purpose of punishment is to prevent something similar happening in the future. And there is more than one part to this. While it needs to stop the same person from doing the same thing, it also needs to discourage others from doing it as well. But I do think that you have to take intent into consideration.

    That being said it should be fairly easy to lay out a sequential list of crimes and their respective punishments. Just look at what happened, and how it violates someones basic human rights. At the top of the list for "wrong" would be rape/murder. The bottom of this list would be something like a kid stealing candy from Walmart.

    So extending further on what I've come up with so far, a hate crime gets extra bad points compared to an equal crime, because not only are you violating someones basic rights, but you're doing it intentionally because you think they're less of a human than you are. Not does the punishment need to make the statement that its not okay to beat someone up, it also must show that this kind of belief is not to be tolerated either.
  • NunesNunes April 2012
    I hate the legal arguments our justices tend to use, so I'm not going to quote Renquist's "more societal harm" BS. But I think we have chosen, as a society, to punish crimes differently based upon the motive.

    A crime of passion vs a premeditated murder for the insurance money, for example. Man II vs Murder I, potentially. Both people end up dead, they don't really care much why they were killed, but we as the purveyors of justice have chosen to care for them, for some reason.

    So in thinking about hate crimes, I start there, what's the difference between a murder that is planned, and malignantly executed and a manslaughter or negligent homicide where somebody dies contrary to the intentions of the perpetrator? And why have we chosen to treat them so differently in our legal system?

    First, and simplest is the type of mental state required to plan a murder and follow through. A person who can do that once can do it again. And they choose violence, murderous violence, as a viable avenue of conflict resolution. Even if the reason wasn't especially malignant, planning to kill someone, and subsequently following through on that plan shows such deepseated disregard for human life that the individual themselves is a threat to society and is removed (we can argue some other time about what the purpose of imprisonment really is, rehabilitation or separation)

    The real ethical or moral question is whether racial or gender motivations for violence denote a more or less potentially dangerous personality. I suggest:


    Because many murders, particularly Murder I murders, victimize a single individual known to the perpetrator ahead of time. One murder, clean, and done. Maybe a jilted lover.

    But hate crimes victimize entire communities. The person who kills someone because they are brown, and they hate them thinks more or less as follows:
    1. The things that I hate, or strongly dislike, should be eliminated.
    2. I am in charge of my environment.
    3. I should eliminate the things I hate.
    4. I hate gay/black/hispanic/etc. people

    This thought process doesn't end with one murder.

    I haven't looked into the judicial history of Hate Crime laws, nor have I looked at arrest record statistics to see if these laws have been abused.

    I suppose at the end of the day, interpretation of our law is largely dependent upon interpretation of justice in general. Why do we imprison people, why do we execute people, why do we publicly humiliate people in the press when we're dissatisfied with the outcome within the system (O. J. Simpson and Cassie Anthony)?

    And I think those questions are far too broad to address in this kind of format.

    Fun question though. The Zimmerman case got you thinking?
  • hexenwulfhexenwulf April 2012
    No, I did not base mine on thoughts about the Zimmerman case. This whole discussion of the Zimmerman case in the media is driving me nuts. We are NOT privy to all of the evidence therefore it is impossible to come to a verdict. Both sides have released a bit of information. Unfortunately neither side has released enough info (and rightly so) for the case to be tried by the media.

    The only aspect of the case we can discuss with a reasonable amount of available information is the initial handling of the case by the police. They did not arrest Zimmerman and with what limited information is available to me they should not have.

    Was amused at this guy on the radio upset because the police did not arrest Zimmerman immediately and that he was still not under arrest. Yes arrest him now, god forbid we start doing something stupid in this country like assuming someone is innocent until PROVEN guilty.

    Let the festivities begin. (keep in mind I am going by law not feelings(and Florida law is different than Alabama Law so my interpretation may not be correct.)
  • NunesNunes April 2012
    Not to change topics, but I agree completely with the fact that we know next to nothing about the case and that the press is completely apeshiat about it, which is obnoxious.

    Not so sure I agree that you shouldn't arrest a guy who just killed a minor. An arrest doesn't mean charges are filed. The weird stuff is the inconsistencies between the official police report and all the (limited) video evidence the public has seen. But again, that doesn't have much to do with hate crimes unless they can prove that the mumbly fucker said "fuckin' coons" over the phone before shooting the kid.

    But nobody is arguing that he didn't shoot the kid. So I'm about 75% in the camp of "maybe just arrest him and see what he has to say for himself". But in this case it wouldn't have made a difference.

    Anyway, just seemed like some of the conversations I've had around the water cooler over the last couple of weeks.
  • hexenwulfhexenwulf April 2012
    I kind of agree with you nunes but like I said Florida law. It is my understanding that it is illegal for them to arrest him.

    A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force, unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer. As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.

    From what I have heard this means that unless the police find a reasonable indication that the law has been broken they are not allowed to arrest him. In other words treat him as innocent until proven guilty.

    I guess we will have to wait till the details come out.
  • NunesNunes April 2012
    "From what I have heard this means that unless the police find a reasonable indication that the law has been broken they are not allowed to arrest him. In other words treat him as innocent until proven guilty."

    I'd say a dead body is usually a reasonable indication that a law has been broken, especially since the circumstances, which play heavily into the SYG law in FL, are known only to the one man still alive after that particular altercation had ended. But that is secondary to the fact that you can be arrested for nothing and detained. Think: drunk tank. You don't need to be formally charged with drunk and disorderly, from my understanding, in order to be detained. There is simply a limit on the amount of time you can be held, and paperwork's a bitch.

    In this case, if the police's job isn't to secure the scene of the death and question witnesses then what the hell is it? I mean, *best* case scenario is that it's not homicide, but he shot the guy and killed him. Worst case, he killed him in cold blood. But it seems to me like that's the purview of the courts, rather than the responding officers.

    idk, I'm not super familiar with FL law, but if this is SOP down there, then you can pretty much get away with killing people if nobody sees it cause they have to assume that you're innocent *before* arresting you as a suspect.

    That doesn't seem possible to me. It being illegal to arrest a suspect because they pulled the SYG card.
  • hexenwulfhexenwulf April 2012
    "In this case, if the police's job isn't to secure the scene of the death and question witnesses then what the hell is it? I mean, *best* case scenario is that it's not homicide, but he shot the guy and killed him. Worst case, he killed him in cold blood. But it seems to me like that's the purview of the courts, rather than the responding officers."

    My understanding is that they detained and questioned him for 5 hours at the precinct. I have no idea how long they can legally hold someone before being required to press charges. The POLICE are the first responders in the situation, the Judge does not go out to the crime scene, interview witnesses, examine evidence etc. The police handle the initial footwork and then I imagine it goes to the District Attorney to determine if there is cause to proceed with criminal prosecution.

    "That doesn't seem possible to me. It being illegal to arrest a suspect because they pulled the SYG card."

    Just because someone pulled the SYG card does not mean they are exempt from arrest. If the police/D.A. determine that there is cause for a arrest they will arrest... and prosecute.

    Not sure what the laws are exactly here in Alabama. If I shoot someone I EXPECT to be arrested. If my shooting is justified I expect to be released. If I am guilty of murder I would expect to be tried. I do know someone that NEEDS to be shot. Unfortunately I feel no need to go to prison as my defense would most likely not hold up in court this long after the fact (was asked by victim to NOT shoot the assailant). Thus I sit here frustrated awaiting KARMIC JUSTICE!

    P.S. Have had an icky sinus thing going on for a few days now. A bit medicated.
  • NunesNunes April 2012
    I have since come to the understanding that he was detained as well. But this thread ain't about that. Appreciate you humoring me though. Perhaps I'll pop a Trayvon/Zimmerman thread for the lulz if this shitshow continues. As it stands I don't think we disagree about much at all as far as that case is concerned. Now I'm much more annoyed with the press handling of it (such that I somehow missed the detention while they were busy telling me that Trayvon had some tats, and may or may not have been mean-muggin' at a camera while posting about his dislike for his high school teachers on twitter...)

    But again, neither here nor there.

    My thoughts on the topic at hand are as outlined above. "Hate Crimes" as we've defined them, denote crimes committed because of hatred of entire demographics, and therefore the criminal is somewhere between "Crime of Passion" and "Serial Killer".

    A history of violence against one particular subset of society, Women, Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, Whites, Sioux, whatever, followed by a Murder of a member of that subset? You're serial. And dangerous to a great many people.

    The case of Zimmerman, while apparently unrelated to this discussion isn't nearly that cut-and-dried, and I imagine those situations are the ones that we could all vigorously debate for months*

    *Or until we got bored
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