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January 18, 2008

Comments

You're very welcome. :)

I'm assuming by this that the Republican candidates are all either silent or negative on transgender issues? I would take it for granted, but I suppose there might be some variation.

Clinton is a lot less clear -- which means, among other things, a lot less likely to talk about transgendered people specifically, or about the need to legislate protections for them -- to the point where I, at least, read her as deliberately vague.

Well, it was her husband who signed DOMA. I don't see any evidence the Clintons are particularly liberal on social issues.

"Hopefully, the light will come?"

On the bright side, we'll also all get ponies.

This information is rather hard to find…

Since the topic came up here a few times earlier I’ve been more prone to noticing anything concerning it – but it seems to rarely be discussed. I’m not sure if it just gets less attention, if advocates are just not pushing hard enough, or if the subject is too uncomfortable for most people.
Reading through their positions, there is one area where I don’t support any of them and that is expanding hate crime statutes. I’m all for laws against discrimination. Repeal DADT and DOMA and legalize gay marriage. But I think hate crimes statutes put us on that slippery slope.


I'm assuming by this that the Republican candidates are all either silent or negative on transgender issues?

Well, Huckabee puts it up there with bestiality but Giuliani has been known to cross-dress…


On the bright side, we'll also all get ponies.

That would be straight, gender-clear ponies. And you can’t marry it.

Hmmmm the light will come, eh? Shortly after Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny get married, I presume.

But I think hate crimes statutes put us on that slippery slope.

Yeah, the slippery slope bringing the war against terrorism home to the white, straight,or male terrorists. Better to fight terrorists overseas than fight terror at home, right?

A while ago Fred at Slacktivist pointed out, that what hate crime legislation does is acknowledge that when - for example - a racist attack is committed on a black person, or a homophobic/transphobic attack on a queer person, the crime is not only that of violent assault on the individual, but also the crime of intending to put other members of the community in fear. The crime which hate crime legislation penalizes, in short, is domestic terrorism.

A slippery slope indeed.

Slacktivist - FRC: Terrorism is "politically incorrect" and OK, then, "intent".

Jesurgislac, how can you know the difference between a crime committed against a certain type of victim because they're that type of victim (i.e. a hate crime) and a crime in which the identity of the victim as a minority of some sort is coincidental? Obviously, in some cases (e.g. neo Nazis torching synagogues, Klansmen organizing ambushes of black people) it's obvious. In many others, though, I suspect the racial or sexual identity of the victim may be arbitrary.

I don't have a problem with the rationale behind hate crime legislation - I agree that crimes motivated by racial or other forms of hatred are especially abhorrent. But there are legitimate questions to be raised about how to enforce them. Statutes on most serious crimes contain gradations to account for differences in circumstances, motive, etc. Why create an ambiguous and difficult-to-define category of crime called a "hate crime"? What's wrong with charging the defendant with an aggravated version of assault/murder etc., with additional charges for attempting to incite mayhem, terrorism, etc., in such cases?

Jes: A slippery slope indeed.

Yes, indeed.

I’m a proponent of the death penalty, provided that it is administered carefully, in cases where there is no doubt. I believe that the penalty for pre-meditated murder should be death. What additional penalty would you add to death based on a hate crime statute? Make them wait on death row for 25 years before we execute them? We have that covered.

The torture murder of Matthew Shepard was a heinous crime. It was premeditated. I don’t care what the motivation was. The two assailants should have been sentenced to death, not life imprisonment.

Any assault resulting in bodily harm should have severe penalties. I don’t care what the motivation is. And I don’t think we should be asking courts to determine motivation. Talk about mind-reading…

Rape is about violence, not sex. It’s violence against women because they are women. Therefore it should be a hate crime. Accountant goes to work for a company run by a known lesbian. He commits embezzlement. Hate crime statute? Guy gets drunk and gets in a fight with another guy who turns out to be gay. Tack on another year for that. When you get your statutes then the devout get theirs.

Hate crime statutes will eventually lead to the curbing of free speech in this country just as they have in others. It leads to people being prosecuted for publishing an article or defacing a book or publishing cartoons. Ask Mark Steyn. Ask Ezra Levant.

Whenever I see the name Mark Steyn, I think plagiarism. Which may be shooting the messenger, but I hope you'll permit me the rant.

But on to real questions, OCSteve, what is your take on Germany and Austrian anti-Nazism laws? This is not a gotcha, just curiosity on your feelings about them (which seem to be much more curbing of free speech) vs. hate crime legislation.

I believe that the penalty for pre-meditated murder should be death.

And I believe that committing pre-meditated murder as a penalty for committing pre-meditated murder follows a twisted-up pattern of logic that bears no relation to the principle of justice. In any case, there are US states that do not make use of the death penalty, and there are US states who make use of the death penalty only for the most heinous murders: and then there's Texas.

Also, not every hate crime case is a murder case. Most are violent assault, not resulting in death. Should these attackers get away with their terror crimes because you feel there's no point trying to penalize the attackers who kill?

Any assault resulting in bodily harm should have severe penalties. I don’t care what the motivation is.

You should: a surgeon commits an assault resulting in bodily harm. Should there be severe penalties for committing surgery even though the surgeon's motivation is benevolent? A BDSM Dom/me - or a boxer, or a wrestler - commits an assault which may result in bodily harm: should there be severe penalties though there was no malicious intent? A man is jumped by a mugger, fights back, and kills the mugger: should he receive the same severe penalties as the mugger if the mugger had killed the man accidentally in the course of attempting to rob them? Should the mugger receive as severe a penalty as a KKKer who drags a black man behind a car until he dies?

The point is: Courts take into account the motivation of the attacker in almost every case, and apply penalties accordingly. This isn't done by "mind-reading": it's done by evidence. To argue that they shouldn't be allowed to take the evidence of the attacker's motivation into account when hate crimes are involved is to separate out crimes committed to put a community in fear, and declare that those crimes should go unpunished because no one is capable of deciding what these crimes are or recognizing when they are being committed. Not just courts: hate crime legislation tracks such crimes from arrest to conviction.

Hate crime statutes will eventually lead to the curbing of free speech in this country just as they have in others.

Ah, the good old argument that if you start convicting people for committing a crime in order to put a community in fear, this will lead to restrictions on free speech. Well, OCSteve, it seems to me that if you have principled objections to restricting the right of people to say what they like, but not against the right of people to go out and beat up people they don't like, you need to support hate crime legislation, but oppose incitement to hate speech legislation. The two are not identical, and one does not lead to the other.

(LJ, I'd also argue that Germany and Austria have a special reason to oppose allowing neoNazis to say freely that they think the Holocaust is a myth, or that Jews and gays and gypsies deserved what the Nazis did to them: which special reason, I think, the rest of the international community can respect without mimicking.)

Sure, Jes, I'm just interested in how OCSteve views them. My take is that if one accepts that Germany and Austria have special reasons to institute such laws, you'd have to argue that we *don't* have special reasons. Which would then get us to the key point of the argument, which is not how the statutes function, but the understanding of where US (or another society) is located in terms of dealing with the particular societal problem that the particular hate crime legislation is aimed at.

And I believe that committing pre-meditated murder as a penalty for committing pre-meditated murder follows a twisted-up pattern of logic that bears no relation to the principle of justice.

I actually agree with you on capital punishment (though my objections are based on procedural rather than philosophical grounds). But there is nothing illogical about advocating the death penalty for certain crimes, if you assume that not all premeditated killings are equally unjustifiable (and everyone does, including you, as you state elsewhere in your post). "Execution" and "premeditated murder" aren't the same thing, and I find it rather irritating that you insist on making this sort of slipshod substitution such a regular part of your arguments.

a surgeon commits an assault resulting in bodily harm. Should there be severe penalties for committing surgery even though the surgeon's motivation is benevolent? A BDSM Dom/me - or a boxer, or a wrestler - commits an assault which may result in bodily harm: should there be severe penalties though there was no malicious intent?

I agree with a lot of what you have to say in this post, but not this - none of these are assault under the legal definition, or even come close, given that they are all consensual activities. The mugger example is a better one.

if you have principled objections to restricting the right of people to say what they like, but not against the right of people to go out and beat up people they don't like, you need to support hate crime legislation, but oppose incitement to hate speech legislation.

I don't mean to get in Steve's way here, but I think both he and I have already stated quite clearly why this isn't so. Under existing statutes it is quite easy to punish a crime more severely due to extenuating circumstances involving motivation, means, etc. This would seem to include more severe penalties for crimes committed due to prejudicial malice against the victim(s). So why do I have to support hate crime legislation again?

Gee I have a knack for (unintentional) thread jacking.

LJ: what is your take on Germany and Austrian anti-Nazism laws?

I’m against them. I believe that people who promote such beliefs should be challenged and even held up to public ridicule. Arrested, prosecuted and jailed? No way.

Jes: Should these attackers get away with their terror crimes because you feel there's no point trying to penalize the attackers who kill?

Did that come out right? It doesn’t make any sense to me, maybe I’m misreading. Anyway, I was pretty clear that I feel the penalties for assault should be pretty severe.

… surgeon… boxer… wrestler…

Come on now. There’s a commonly accepted meaning of assault and you’re twisting it here.

it seems to me that if you have principled objections to restricting the right of people to say what they like, but not against the right of people to go out and beat up people they don't like

Twisting Jes. I was very clear that I believe assault should carry serious penalties.

On your equating these things with terrorism, be careful what you wish for.

HR 1955 (An Act to prevent homegrown terrorism, and for other purposes) has already passed the house by overwhelming majority (404-6). In the Senate it’s been read twice and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. It’s one of the scariest bills I’ve ever read.

The term ‘ideologically based violence’ means the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual’s political, religious, or social beliefs.

What you won’t find in the bill is a strict definition of what “force” means. Here’s one meaning:

coerce: to cause to do through pressure or necessity, by physical, moral or intellectual means

Does this mean you could be in trouble for organizing a protest to picket a Congressman’s office to convince them to change their mind on supporting TLBG rights? Or am i now twisting the meaning of "force"?

Nah, Steve, I feel like I'm getting mixed up in a tangle between you and jesurgislac.. so I'm the one guilty of a comment thread faux paus here. Isn't off-topic where every comment thread ends up eventually?

Xeymon: "Execution" and "premeditated murder" aren't the same thing

We distinguish between them by the motivation of the person who commits execution versus the motivation of the person who commits premeditated murder.

OCSteve, earlier; "I don’t care what the motivation is. And I don’t think we should be asking courts to determine motivation."

So, by OCSteve's reasoning, there is no difference between two people who kill, one with the motivation of putting someone deliberately to death because it's their job and they're paid by the state to do so, and one with the motivation that they don't like that person's face. Determining motivation apparently requires mindreading, it can't be established from external evidence.

Anyway, I was pretty clear that I feel the penalties for assault should be pretty severe.

But putting a community in fear by committing a violent assault on a member (or members) of that community shouldn't be regarded as a crime at all?

Come on now. There’s a commonly accepted meaning of assault and you’re twisting it here.

Of course. A man who renders a person unconscious and slices into the person's body to remove parts of it while still alive is regarded very differently if their motivation is that of a surgeon than if their motivation is that of a torturer. But you argued that you don't care about motivation. A professional boxer who hits someone in the ring has a very different motivation than when the same person hits someone in their hotel bedroom: yet you argue that the only way to determine motivation is by "mindreading" - that there is apparently no way for a court to look at evidence and determine motivation.

Xey: I feel like I'm getting mixed up in a tangle between you and jesurgislac..

A bit! I'm just trying to get OCSteve to acknowledge that his assertion that he doesn't care about motivation and it can only be determined by reading a person's mind is absurd, and he should drop it.

Isn't the difference between manslaughter, and murders one, two, and three a matter of motivation?

I am leery of hate crime legislation, too. Most hate crimes are also crimes of another sort: vandalism, trespassing, rape, arson, something. I think a better way to fighht hate crimes is to vigorously enforce whatever other law was broken.

It is with some ddifficulty that I come to this conclusion. The rape of women is, after all, a hate crime, ans, since I'm female, I have spent much of my life coping one way or another withh the possiblity that I might get raped. I donn't think that heterosexual white men understand how pervasive and reality based fear is in the lifves of women and minorities. I don't mean that i spend my time being scared shitless--but i do think about where I am and what time of day it is and how close I have to walk past an unfamiliar male to get to my car, etc. The possiblity of being raped is a background cnsideration. Is there an equivalent fear for heterosexual white men?

"So, by OCSteve's reasoning, there is no difference between two people who kill, one with the motivation of putting someone deliberately to death because it's their job and they're paid by the state to do so, and one with the motivation that they don't like that person's face."

That isn't an accurate summary of OCSteve's position.

He isn't saying that no motivation could possibly matter. He is saying that by the time you get to motivation levels of murdering people or beating the crap out of them, we don't need to figure out what is going on deep in their heart.

Also, from a purely procedural point of view, it is much easier to definitively prove certain things than others--but hate crimes as actually implemented don't act as a precise instrument.

Murder of a security guard at a bank in order to sneak in or murder for hire--pretty clearly murder for 'pecuniary gain'. Murder of someone who you claim hurt your car in an accident while also calling him a [email protected]@%! Not so clear (other than the fact that the murderer is crazy). Murder of a black man who 'stole' your girlfriend and calling him vile names while killing him--also really awful, but a 'hate crime' in the sense we are talking about? It shouldn't be, but it probably is.

It isn't that it would theoretically be impossible to have clear hate crimes laws. It is that it is practically impossible. Because when you have to actually work with it, you get stupid things like prosecuting Ezra Levant for publishing cartoons which aren't even as offensive as the stuff you see in Newsweek magazine.

"The possiblity of being raped is a background cnsideration. Is there an equivalent fear for heterosexual white men?"

And until the Supreme Court mysterious pontificated that the 8th amendment didn't allow it, rape was subject to the death penalty in some states. It isn't that we can't punish crimes, it is that we should treat crimes as very serious--no matter whether or not they are committed against a special class of people.

wonkie: I think a better way to fighht hate crimes is to vigorously enforce whatever other law was broken.

Well, "better" in the sense that it ensures hate crimes continue unpenalized. Which is certainly better for people who prefer that women, LGBT people, disabled people, and people of color, "know their place" - an invisible, inaudible, subservient, grateful-to-exist place - and fear being raped or killed if they step outside it. It's not better for anyone else, including those who don't belong to any of those groups but who prefer to live in a world where entire groups of people are not put in fear of brutal assault if they get uppity, and reminded constantly that it's not considered important that the law should make them feel safe: it's considered much more important that bigots and bullies should feel safe to terrorize.

Well, to a certain extent, hate crime legislation has become an end to itself, and not a means to the end of taking crime against minorities (those out of the mainstream) more seriously.

My understanding of the rationale for "hate crime" penalties is that it was supposed to apply mostly to assaults on persons or property that would normally be very minor.

F'rex, scrawling racist graffiti on someone's house. On the face of it, this is just vandalism. But it's vandalism meant to target a specific group for intimidation, so it becomes a hate crime, and what was a misdemeanor becomes a felony with serious jail time.

Using hate crime legislation to extend an already lengthy prison sentence - or, as OCSteve points out, to lard more time on top of a death sentence - makes no sense to me.

Sebastian: It isn't that we can't punish crimes, it is that we should treat crimes as very serious--no matter whether or not they are committed against a special class of people.

Well, in that case, what's the problem with treating hate crime as very serious, again? Just because hate crimes are, in general, committed only against special classes of people - black people, LGBT people, women, the disabled - that shouldn't be a problem, in and of itself, of treating them as very serious crimes.

Incidentally, you know as well as I do that the death penalty for rape was routinely used as a hate crime against black men, rather than a signal that rape of women was treated seriously: between 1945 and 1965 1 in three black men convicted of raping a white women were executed, while only 2 out of a 100 men who were convicted of any other racial variant of rape were executed. cite - the other information at that cite is also interesting. (Incidentally, according to this, since 1800 in the USA, 924 men have been executed for rape and 80 for attempted rape. (Given that there was such strong evidence that the use of the death penalty in rape cases was racially motivated, it's hardly surprising that the Supreme Court decided that it was "cruel and unusual punishment".)

"Which is certainly better for people who prefer that women, LGBT people, disabled people, and people of color, "know their place" - an invisible, inaudible, subservient, grateful-to-exist place - and fear being raped or killed if they step outside it."

Oh give me a break, Jesurgislac. I was chased down the street of a gay neighborhood by a group of 5 thugs who also beat up two other people that weekend. I'm not insensitive to the reality of living gay so there is no need to play emotional and hyperbolic games as if the only reason people could possibly disagree with you is because they hate or some preferred victim group and wish to see them trampled down.

"Given that there was such strong evidence that the use of the death penalty in rape cases was racially motivated, it's hardly surprising that the Supreme Court decided that it was "cruel and unusual punishment".

Actually you're completely wrong here. If you want to say that it is being unfairly applied, there are whole other sections of the constitution which can deal with racially biased applications of law. Ruling under the 8th says that the punishment is illegal no matter how it is applied.

My understanding of the rationale for "hate crime" penalties is that it was supposed to apply mostly to assaults on persons or property that would normally be very minor.

Well, no...not originally. Much of the impetus was to keep the power structure from looking the other way when gays and minorities were physically and seriously assaulted--i.e., concussions, broken bones, etc.

"Well, in that case, what's the problem with treating hate crime as very serious, again?"

You're assuming the conclusion here. The issue is whether or not 'hate crimes' are a category different from violent crimes which almost always involve hate anyway. You can't just assume away the disagreement and then merrily go on.

Apropos, I found this interesting: Becoming a Black Man, from ColorLines.

Sebastian: I was chased down the street of a gay neighborhood by a group of 5 thugs who also beat up two other people that weekend.

And you feel that they shouldn't be punished for the crime of terrorizing your neighborhood - that it's perfectly okay and non-criminal for them to decide to put you and your neighbors into a state of fear?

Which is certainly better for people who prefer that women, LGBT people, disabled people, and people of color, "know their place" - an invisible, inaudible, subservient, grateful-to-exist place - and fear being raped or killed if they step outside it.

That may or may not be a violation of the posting rules, but regardless I don't see how it contributes to a meaningful and civil discussion.

Jes: people who oppose hate crimes laws generally do so not because they want e.g. assault on gays to be legal. They just want it to be illegal qua assault, and not qua assault on gays, or qua assault motivated by homohobia.

Since, while I would not presume to speak for Seb, I would imagine he is not in favor of legalizing assault, I don't think there's any reason to think that he thinks the people who chased him shouldn't be punished.

KCinDC: That may or may not be a violation of the posting rules

I don't see how it can be: I didn't imply, or intend to imply, that anyone here was a member of that group.

but regardless I don't see how it contributes to a meaningful and civil discussion.

Well, quite: a meaningful and civil discussion is not possible when we actually talk about the effects of hate crime on real people. Meaningful discussions about hate crime are only had by people who have never experienced hate crime or who are willing to disregard their own experience.

"Well, quite: a meaningful and civil discussion is not possible when we actually talk about the effects of hate crime on real people. Meaningful discussions about hate crime are only had by people who have never experienced hate crime or who are willing to disregard their own experience."

Shorter Jesurgislac:

J: You're in denial.

Anyone else: No I'm not! I have the following reasons for my conclusions...

J: See, you're denying it right there!

Anecdote which is meant to point out the difficulty of diving motivation.

Many year ago, long before the term "hates crimes" was part of our vocabulary, my brother was a student at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.

One night, he and a friend went to see the White Sox play on the South Side in a predominantly African American neighborhood.

They left early asnd were the only two white folks on the el platform. They were assaulted and robbed by sseveral black youths who ignored the other blacks on the platform. (Fortunately, neither he nor his friend were seriously hurt.

Question, was it a "hate crime" representing black on white violence or were they selected because the attackers felt they were most likely to have something worth the effort of robbing them?

The latter, IMO, does not constitute a "hate crime" but how would it play out today?

When the motivation is totally undetectable via the act itself, then it becomes mind reading. There are, however, as pointed out above, some acts where the act itself indicates the motivation.

"divining" not "diving"

I'm sympathetic to the stated purpose of hate crime laws, but my fear is that in practice they will be (and are) used indiscriminately. Prosecutors like to lard on as many charges as possible in an attempt to pressure the accused into copping a plea, and so have an incintive to add a hate crime charge if there is any way at all to fit one to the circumstances. Sebastian's examples above are the sort of thing I have in mind. In most of these cases, I doubt they would stand up in court, but that's a moot point if it never reaches a judge or jury.

um, incentive, not incintive.

"And you feel that they shouldn't be punished for the crime of terrorizing your neighborhood - that it's perfectly okay and non-criminal for them to decide to put you and your neighbors into a state of fear?"

Jes - you are aware that threatening violence and chasing people down the street is criminal behavior even in the absence of any hate crime statutes, right?

"Of course. A man who renders a person unconscious and slices into the person's body to remove parts of it while still alive is regarded very differently if their motivation is that of a surgeon than if their motivation is that of a torturer. But you argued that you don't care about motivation. A professional boxer who hits someone in the ring has a very different motivation than when the same person hits someone in their hotel bedroom: ... "

Your analysis of the examples here leave out a crucial element besides motivation, i.e. consent. If I'm getting punched by a boxer, the important legal criteria is not the benevolence of his intent, it's the easily ascertained fact of whether I myself agreed to enter the ring and let him swing at me.


Personally, I can see the arguments on both sides of hate crime legislation. From a practical standpoint, I think it should come down to an empirical determination of whether the real-world problems associated with the laws in question outweigh the actual benefits. I need real-world data more than theoretical analysis.

However, I'm not any kind of an expert on the subject, so I don't have any idea where to get said data. If anyone can point me in the direction of actual information on the real-life positive and negative consequences of existing hate-crime laws, I'd be grateful.

a meaningful and civil discussion is not possible when we actually talk about the effects of hate crime on real people.

Well, how convenient for you. Yet, strangely, it seems everyone else -- said "everyone else" including other women and other homosexuals -- is able to to have a civil discussion without accusing each other of wanting to make assault against minorities illegal. How bizarre!

And before the usual accusation comes along -- which it almost certainly wil -- let me state that I fully favor "hate crime laws" insofar as a motivation to intimidate members of any racial or sexual group should result in harsher sentencing for the crimes to which the specification applies.

He isn't saying that no motivation could possibly matter. He is saying that by the time you get to motivation levels of murdering people or beating the crap out of them, we don't need to figure out what is going on deep in their heart.

I don't think we need to dig too deeply into someone's heart to suss out what's going on when, say, a lynching occurs, or a cross burning.

I didn't imply, or intend to imply, that anyone here was a member of that group.

Sure you did, you were just called on it. This isn't Slacktivist -- if you want to comment on groups of people that post here, I cordially invite you to http://hocb.net/>Take it Outside.

In a feverish attempt to get the conversation back to the original topic: OCSteve:

"Since the topic came up here a few times earlier I’ve been more prone to noticing anything concerning it – but it seems to rarely be discussed. I’m not sure if it just gets less attention, if advocates are just not pushing hard enough, or if the subject is too uncomfortable for most people."

-- I think that part of it is just that the issues are deeply unfamiliar to most people. I mean, unless you actually stop and think about it -- about what it would be like to be transgender, about the fact that it's not about thinking it would be kind of nifty to be a member of a different gender, but about feeling that you somehow are, and feeling that way for as far back as you can remember, and so on, and so forth -- it's really, really easy not to get it. And if you don't get it, it's also easy to just think it's weird or funny (shemales!! hahaha) or something.

Most people have no reason to think about it. And my sense is that a lot of transgendered people just want to transition to the gender they identify with and never think about it again. After all, this issue has already commandeered much of their lives without their wanting it to; who wouldn't just want to forget about it as soon as possible?

That's why, as I said, I thought: well, obviously, I should try to help, since these issues have not commandeered my life, and so I have time and energy to spare. Trans people have enough to deal with without this, so if I can take some of the load off, I should. Especially since TG people tend to know, um, people who know TG people -- which means the very people most likely be familiar with these issues. Whereas I, not being TG, know lots of people who don't know anyone who is TG at all, and thus might not be.

In a feverish attempt to get the conversation back to the original topic

Sorry! Like I said I just have a knack for it. ;)

I think that part of it is just that the issues are deeply unfamiliar to most people.

That was certainly the case with me. Sheltered life, etc. Most of what I thought I knew was based on stereotypes in entertainment.

i do think about where I am and what time of day it is and how close I have to walk past an unfamiliar male to get to my car, etc. The possiblity of being raped is a background cnsideration. Is there an equivalent fear for heterosexual white men?

Well, I'm a het white man, but I'm short, not especially athletic, and grew up and went to college & grad school in violent neighborhoods...so I know all about walking carefully, choosing where and when to go, remembering which side of the street is safer, staying in view of other people, sure. (Nor was this mere paranoia, I have been mugged or assaulted several times, and at least one of those times appeared to be racially motivated). For that matter, part of the reason I now live where I do is that it's a "safe" neighborhood -- and I pay thru the nose for that privilege, so the issue still affects my life. I'm not saying it's just the same, b/c a lot more places and situations feel 'safe' for me than probably do for you, but I think I have the concept.

Jesurgislac, I like the "terrorism" comparison, which I had not come across before. It makes sense to me.

Rape as hate crime seems too simplistic to me. From what I have read, rape is not like other assaults from the point of view not only of the victim but also of the perpetrator. There are certainly hatred and power issues, but also the perpetrator's need to affirm his own sexual self-image - it's a very egocentric crime.
Anyway, we already punish rape more severely than other assaults that do equivalent physical damage. To add yet another layer seems redundant.

Pretty revealing bit on Hillary...there is a diffference!

http://knowthyneighbor.blogs.com/home/2007/12/greater-boston.html

Moderator Tim Russert asked John Edwards, Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton whether they’d be comfortable having the story — called “King & King” — read to their children in school.

Edwards gave the first and most definitive answer — a resounding and instant “yes, absolutely” — although he added that it “might be a little tough” for second-graders.

Obama agreed with Edwards and revealed that his wife has already spoken to his 6- and 9-year-old daughters about same-sex marriage.

Clinton said she believes it’s up to parents to decide how to handle such topics, but added that it’s important to teach kids about differences in the world. [Note: Hillary's position is indistinguishable from Family Research Institute's [an anti gay group] position on anti-bias and diversity education]

Same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts, and, as Russert pointed out Wednesday, most of the Democratic candidates have said they oppose it. But though they don't back the legislation, they apparently think it's OK to teach elementary-school students about gay marriage.

“I want my children to understand everything about the difficulties that gay and lesbian couples are faced with every day, the discrimination that they’re faced with every single day of their lives,” Edwards said. “I suspect my two younger children, Emma Claire, who’s 9, and Jack, who’s 7, will reach the same conclusion that my daughter Cate, who’s 25, has reached — which is, she doesn’t understand why her dad is not in favor of same-sex marriage.”

The 2004 vice presidential candidate and former North Carolina senator said he doesn’t want to influence his kids’ opinions about the issue.

“I don’t want to make that decision on behalf of my children,” he said. “I want my children to be able to make that decision on behalf of themselves, and I want them to be exposed to all the information, even in — did you say second grade? Second grade might be a little tough, but even in second grade to be exposed to all those possibilities, because I don’t want to impose my view. Nobody made me God.”

Obama told Russert that his sentiments are similar to those of Edwards, and, when asked whether he’d sat down to talk about same-sex marriage with his young daughters, he replied that his wife had.

“The fact is, my 9-year-old and my 6-year-old I think are already aware that there are same-sex couples,” the Illinois senator told the debate. “One of the things I want to communicate to my children is not to be afraid of people who are different. …. One of the things I think the next president has to do is stop fanning people’s fears. If we spend all our time feeding the American people fear and conflict and division, then they become fearful and conflicted and divided.”

Clinton said she respects the viewpoints of Obama and Edwards, but she sidestepped the question of whether she’d be comfortable having a storybook like “King & King” read to her own child at that age.

“With respect to your individual children, that is such a matter of parental discretion,” Clinton said. “Obviously, it is better to try to … help your children understand the many differences that are in the world. … And that goes far beyond sexual orientation. So I think that this issue of gays and lesbians and their rights will remain an important one in our country.”

"I'm sympathetic to the stated purpose of hate crime laws, but my fear is that in practice they will be (and are) used indiscriminately."

Really? My fear, indeed expectation, is that they'd be used discriminately. In the sense of being written facially neutral, but applied in a discriminatory manner.


Forgot to mention – it appears that I am (way) to the left of all three candidates on gay marriage. I support it, they don’t. What’s that about?

OCSteve, maybe part of it is that you're not running for national office.

OCSteve: me to. I suspect that what it's abut is a desire to secure all the legal benefits of marriage to gay couples (which all three support, though HRC waffles a bit via her only wanting to repeal part of DOM), without crossing something they suspect would be a tripwire for a lot of conservatives. Get all the substance, leave out the name. Not my favorite strategy, but better than not being committed to the substance.

What is it about the marriage part that causes the tripwire. It's supposed to be (and is) a legal description, but somehow has become something else. I really don't know why all of these unions can't be reclassified as 'legal unions' and if you want something beyond that - go to the moral teacher of your choice to get it.

You know why, rdldot. Because anyone who suggested such a thing would be accused of wanting to destroy the institution of marriage and would have no chance of being elected dogcatcher.

"I really don't know why all of these unions can't be reclassified as 'legal unions' and if you want something beyond that - go to the moral teacher of your choice to get it."

Because that would entail not using the power of the state to enforce one's moral and religious beliefs. Maintaining that control, and increasing it, isn't simply a means, but also an end. Use of state power enforces the validity of the justice of the claim, in the eyes of those making it.

Speaking of another thread title.

I suspect that the "need" for hate laws reveals more about deficiencies in the old laws pertaining to discrimination, violence, assault etc - or possibly to deficiencies in the ways they are enforced. I could see a hate crime law under which organization or incitement of hatred was a criminal offence, but it would be better law if it were, so to speak, group blind. In other words, the group being targetted is not the issue, rather the fact that a group is being singled out is what counts.
...Hate speech laws are dangerous ground, on the whole, since they can be manipulated by extremists and provocateurs if too general, while laundry list laws often fail due to hyperspecificity. It is also hard to create "protection" laws for specific groups without other groups claiming that they are suffering discrimination.
...I think it would probably be better to reinforce non-discriminatory attitudes among law enforcement and related officers, coupled with a careful strengthening of laws on assault, violence etc, rather than creating a targetted hate crimes law. In sum, if the present legal system were made fully effective and properly enforced, this would probably take care of most of the issues.
...Law per se can't stop hate crimes/hate speech - that's where educating society as a whole is so important, and why we need to stop the de-historicization of schools, politics, and social discourse.

I don't see why. If you can go to the courthouse and get 'married' it doesn't seem all that special to me. But people do it all the time.
Maybe we can put it out there and see what happens. People will get used to the idea. What is that theory of injecting radical ideas into the mainstream to normalize it? And actually, this is not radical at all.

There's nothing wrong with injecting radical ideas into the system to normalize them. You may be thinking on the concept of the Overton window. President candidates who want to win aren't the ones who do the injecting, though. That's one of the things "fringe" candidates are useful for.

If you think that getting government out of marriage is something that can happen any time soon in the United States, I have to wonder whether you're talking about the same United States I live in. There are all sorts of things that I wish US voters in general thought differently about, but so far my wishing hasn't changed reality.

I'm just trying to get OCSteve to acknowledge that his assertion that he doesn't care about motivation and it can only be determined by reading a person's mind is absurd

Jes, in first year criminal law, one is taught that motivation and intent are two different concepts. Intent for, say, assault is "I want to punch you in the face..." and motivation for assault is "...because you are gay."

Proving the former is fairly difficult, and it's the meat and potatoes of criminal law. Proving the latter is essentially impossible bar the creation of telepathic judges, and criminal law simply must be about proof, rather than the balance of probabilities found elsewhere in law, simply because the penalties for criminal offenses are so much greater - if I bankrupt you with a personal injury suit, your life will be a lot less pleasant, but I'm not dramatically restricting your mobility or potentially removing your vote/ending your life.

I'm as left-wing as you get and attending the most liberal law school in Canada, which is a fairly left-wing nation, and I think hate crime legislation is terrible, because it attempts to codify things that simply should not be codified. When something that would constitute a hate crime is self-evident, you don't need hate crime statutory law to do what can be accomplished perfectly acceptably through sentencing.

Yes, this means depending on the ethics of judges, and judges are obviously not perfect and subject to their own personal biases. Nothing else in law is perfect either. We settle for best potential outcome.

@rdldot: What is it about the marriage part that causes the tripwire. It's supposed to be (and is) a legal description, but somehow has become something else

Actually I think it started as the something else and became a legal description later. Certainly in terms of our country, and the dominant religions here, religious marriage predated legal marriage. It would be a wonderful if we could separate the religious undertones from the legal benefits of marriage. The whole civil unions for everyone (gender-irrelevant) idea is one I would love to become dominant. Leave marriage to the religious arena & civil unions to the legal arena, thereby avoiding the whole issue of whether a man+man or woman+woman could get married. If you want the legal benefits, you have a union; if you want the religious benefits, you have a marriage; if you want both sets of benefits, you do both.

In the Netherlands a church is not allowed to marry people who have not had a civil marriage first. And we have both civil marriages and civil unions. People who are not religious often still want to get married, not get civil unioned. Even with gay people some go for civil union and some go for marriage.

I had to explain to my kids why some countries would not allow people to marry their loved ones if they happened to be gay. I can only explain that in terms of history and religion (like being able to marry more women in some countries), but have to re-explain religious freedom afterwards.

@dutchmarbel:

I guess in my ideal world, a church can marry or not whomever it wants, regardless of gov't blessing of the union, simply because the religous & legal aspects never intersect.

The overloading of the term is a large part of the problem, and is not likely to be fixed any time soon. The fact that areligious people still get married & not united in most countries, and even desire to be married and not united in countries where both are options is due to this historical aspect. I don't know how to go about changing it, though the concept of civil marriage vs religious marriage is certainly a good step. Reduce the baggage on both sides by allowing a distinctive descriptor to marriage, so you don't have gay religious marriage (for those denominations who desire), but have civil gay marriage for the legal aspects. Just have to convince everyone else in the US.

I have the feeling through all he discussion of hate-crimes and the legal response that the question of remedy is missing.

If somebody systematically beats up gay/muslim/black/female people in order, as Jesurislac points out, to terrorize the community they belong too I feel that you need a remedy that is larger than those that can be applied to the person him/her self. It feels as if it requires intervention at the level of the community to make people feel safe. Fear is a very limiting thing and spreads all too easily.

PS I am personally opposed to killing people, which is a real shame because there are certainly people who I do not want to share a world with. Nobody here falls in that category I hasten to add.

Excellent discussion! I used to be totally in favor of hate crimes laws, but those who oppose them have raised some very valid points.

It has occurred to me that President Bush opposes adding GLBT people to existing hate crimes law because he opposes hate crimes laws in general, yet he has made no effort to get them repealed. Why is that? We either need to add GLBT people to the hate crimes laws, or get rid of all the hate crimes laws we currently have. I wonder which is more likely to happen.

I also think our justice system needs to be more creative. I'm opposed to the death penalty, though I fully empathize with the desire to have it for certain crimes. Some one used Matthew Shepherd's killers as an example. I agree that they *deserve* to die, but I also think that our society should be better than to engage in revenge tactics.

What is an appropriate punishment then? Instead of thinking about punishment, perhaps we could focus on the idea of correction. First, for the safety of others, they have to be locked up indefinitly. But the prison system that we currently employ is inadequate in that it doesn’t improve society beyond merely locking people up. These people need to be re-educated, even the ones that we never intend to release. For Shepherd’s killers, we might begin by housing them in a cell in which one wall has a large window in it. Outside the window is a movie screen on which we continuously play gay porn movies. We give the prisoners aphrodesiacs and subject them to this stuff 24 hrs a day for the first few years. We might also place them in situations where they can be raped by other male prisoners. Then we move on to more intellectual GLBT-themed movies. We give them GLBT books, force them to attend GLBT sensitivity classes, anger management classes, etc., and finally, when they graduate, we give them carefully-supervised community service jobs through which they can earn money, 50% of which they must pay to Matthew’s family.

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