Tuesday, January 17, 2017

"Hate Crimes"

One of the things I've always found interesting is that the Bible contains ten commandments (or "Ten Commandments," to put in the capitalization) which lay out the essential rules for righteous behavior. Since there are only ten of them, they can be printed on less than half of one side of a standard 8x10-inch page.

In contrast, Title 18 of the US Code of Laws ("Crimes and Criminal Procedure"), Part 1 ("Crimes") has 123 chapters which contain 2725 sections. And that's just the Federal level ... multiply that my many hundreds to account for state and local criminal laws.

So, if The Almighty only needed ten commandments, why do we need tens of thousands of laws? At what point did we decide that "Thou shalt not kill" needed to be nuanced into "Homicide," "Murder in the First/Second Degree," "Felony Murder," and "Voluntary/Involuntary Manslaughter?" Murder is the taking of a human life ... how much more do you need to parse it?

And to get to today's point, why do we need a new subset (or overlay) of laws that specify some already-defined crimes as "hate crimes?"

The FBI defines a hate crime this way on its website:

"A hate crime is a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. For the purposes of collecting statistics, the FBI has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.” Hate itself is not a crime."

It seems to me that any vicious crime - particularly murder and rape - is by definition a crime based on hatred, and that describing it as a hate crime doesn't necessarily make it any worse or more despicable. All it does is provide an avenue by which to generate statistics.

Let's tell it like it is. It's murder or rape or assault or arson or whatever. There's no need to call it a hate crime to prosecute it.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



eViL pOp TaRt said...

I wondered about that too. At bottom, this is a useless subcategory. Oh well, the lawmakers come up with such stuff.

Dave Hess said...

I'm no legal expert, but doesn't the existence of the hate crime statute give the feds a second shot at an offender who is let off by a biased lower court?

Mike said...

Don't forget the dreaded Home Owners Association.

Bilbo said...

Dave, I thought about that, too ... but wouldn't that constitute double jeopardy under the law?

Deena said...

We also need a category of "not so fond of" crimes.

allenwoodhaven said...

I see your point. The motive is separate from an action itself, though obviously intertwined.
I think the nuance is useful in understanding what people do. Of course, as with anything that is
thought about for long enough, the complexity grows beyond basic needs and common understanding.
Add in the government and it can quickly become ridiculous!

I believe that the hate crime statute just gives the Feds an additional charge to prosecute. It wouldn't be double
jeopardy since it's a separate law. it adds to the potential penalty, if a criminal cares about that sort of thing.
"I hate _____ so I was going to _____ that _____, but now I won't. I don't want to get into the extra trouble!"

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

Except for robbery, aren't all felonies sort of hate crimes?