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What's Wrong With "Hate-Crimes" Legislation
If you're brutally murdered, does it really matter what the murderer thinks of you? And should we even be trying to prove thought crimes? And if we continue to do that...what sort of precedent is it setting?

The Senate voted to expand federal hate-crimes law to include protections for gays and lesbians...in addition to protection by race, color, religion and national origin. P.S. The bill was tacked onto a defense bill...this sounds suspiciously like a bid by the Democrats to win points with voters while playing veto-chicken with George Bush.

I am, of course, all for the equal protection of gays and lesbians, but number one, hate crime law isn't equal protection, and number two, it's unrealistic and stupid. (Do the Senators really think some hater is going to consult federal hate-crimes law before they do their crime, and maybe pick one somebody straight or white instead?)

Free Republic gives an example of why this is bad legislation:

Example: Some people say I look a bit like Idaho Senator Larry Craig. Not that there's anything wrong with that! Well, let's say that Larry Craig and I get mugged on the same Washington DC street by a gang of white skinheads within minutes of each other. The crime against Senator Craig could be considered to be more serious because of the possibility that these skinheads were reacting to stories of his restroom adventures. Me? Just an ordinary white guy. A second class victim.

via Breitbart

Posted by aalkon at October 3, 2007 10:59 AM

Comments

C'mon, a crime is a crime is a crime. You kill someone and get caught, you get punished. You rob, rape, beat up someone and get caught, same damn thing. I am for equal protection of all citizens, black, white, rich, poor, gay, straight, what the hell difference does it make? Why should some people get more "victim" status over others? Doesn't make a damn bit of sense. And the people who want you to believe it does are trying to blow some serious smoke up our collective ass. What else are they bullshitting us about?

Posted by: Flynne at October 3, 2007 5:53 AM

Hate-crimes legislation is thought-crimes legislation, pure and simple. Not too far away from Orwell's 1984 in concept. Do we really want to go down this road?

The passage of such legislation also reveals two very illuminating things about those who passed it:

1. They have no confidence that our legal system, as it operates now, is capable of dispensing justice uniformly, and would rather try to control thought than spend the resources to effectively prosecute proscribed criminal behavior, and

2. There is no depths to which they will not stoop in their pandering to interest groups.

Truly sad when it comes to this.

Posted by: cpabroker at October 3, 2007 6:29 AM

It's a pandering thing.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 3, 2007 6:36 AM

It's a PC thing.

How does one prove the "WHY?" Does the government have a mind reading device we don't know about? If I went and beat the crap out of some random person, who was black, or say, gay, is there an automatic assumption that I did it b/c I'm white/straight and therefore hate the people b/c they aren't white/straight? What if I'm just a psycho w/ anger issues and they were the closet people during my mental breakdown?

...criminals do tend to be idiots, though: If I started beating on someone while screaming out anti-gay slurs then that might demonstrate the motive.

Which brings me to the next point: You punish the crime, not the motive. The motive is the reason the person committed the crime - it's not actually THE crime.

I might want to kill someone on the T who hasn't showered, or screams loudly into a cell (ten times) "I'M ON THE TRAIN I CAN'T TALK!." But if I don't do it, there isn't a crime. How can you legislate against motive (a desire) if it doesn't come to fruition? You can't. You can only punish the act.

By giving more weight to an act b/c it has a particular motivation is inherently unfair to other victims. And inherently stupid.

Posted by: Gretchen at October 3, 2007 7:36 AM

Hey Amy - how come when I make this argument I'm a racist/sexist/bigot/homophobe, and when you make it it's utterly sensible?

Is it because I have a penis?

I mean , what part of "equal before the law" do these people not get? Back when that guy got dragged to death behind a pickup truck in Texas, someone was giving Bush shit for opposing hate-crimes laws. His response was priceless: "The criminals who killed him have been sentenced to death. How much more severely do you want to punish them?"

Posted by: brian at October 3, 2007 8:19 AM

Is it because I have a penis?

Hate to say it, but yes. It's because you are straight and white and have a penis. People tend to take these arguments better when they're gay or dark or female. We're the oppressors, remember?

Posted by: justin case at October 3, 2007 9:08 AM

Hey Amy - how come when I make this argument I'm a racist/sexist/bigot/homophobe, and when you make it it's utterly sensible? Is it because I have a penis?

No, it's because other people are lacking in logic.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 3, 2007 9:15 AM

No, it's because other people are lacking in logic.

Is there a functional difference? I mean, sure, I could probably slap some sense into them. I'm not likely to stop being a man.

Posted by: brian at October 3, 2007 9:36 AM

They're intellectually constipated, it'll never work.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 3, 2007 9:41 AM

(Slapping sense into them, that is.)

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 3, 2007 9:41 AM

This is from an email my dad sent me. Too bad this is only one guy:

Maricopa County was spending approx. $18 million dollars a year on stray animals, like cats and dogs. Sheriff Joe offered to take the department over, and the County Supervisors said okay.

The animal shelters are now all staffed and operated by prisoners. They feed and care for the strays. Every animal in his care is taken out and walked twice daily. He now has prisoners who are experts in animal nutrition and behavior. They give great classes for anyone who'd like to adopt an animal. He has literally taken stray dogs off the street, given them to the care of prisoners, and had them place in dog shows.

The best part? His budget for the entire department is now under $3 million.

Somebody adopted a Weimaraner from a Maricopa County shelter two years ago. He was neutered, and current on all shots, in great health, and even had a microchip inserted the day we got him. Cost the guy $78.

The prisoners get the benefit of about $0.28 an hour for working, but most would work for free, just to be out of their cells for the day. Most of his budget is for utilities, building maintenance, etc. He pays the prisoners out of the fees collected for adopted animals.

I have long wondered when the rest of the country would take a look at the way he runs the jail system, and copy some of his ideas. He has a huge farm, donated to the county years ago, where inmates can work, and they grow most of their own fresh vegetables and food, doing all the work and harvesting by hand. He has a pretty good sized hog farm, which provides meat, and fertilizer. It fertilizes the Christmas tree nursery, where prisoners work, and you can buy a living Christmas tree for $6 - $8 for the Holidays, and plant it later. There are people who have planted trees in their yards from the Prison.

Yup, he was reelected last year with 83% of the vote.

Now he's in trouble with the ACLU again. He painted all his buses and vehicles with a mural, that has a special hotline phone number painted on it, where you can call and report suspected illegal aliens. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement wasn't doing enough in his eyes, so he had 40 deputies trained specifically for enforcing immigration laws, started up his hotline, and bought 4 new buses just for hauling folks back to the border. He's kind of a "Git-R Dun" kind of Sheriff.

To those of you not familiart with Joe Arpaio, he is the Maricopa Arizona Counry Sheriff and he keeps getting elected over and over. This may be one of the reasons why:

Sheriff Joe Arpaio created the "Tent City Jail":

He has jail meals down to 40 cents a serving and charges the inmates for them.
He stopped allowing smoking and porno magazines in the jails. Took away their weights. Cut off all but "G"-rated movies.
He started chain gangs so the inmates could do free work on county and city projects.
Then he started chain gangs for women, so he wouldn't get sued for discrimination.
He took away cable TV Until he found out there was a federal court order that required cable TV for jails.
So he hooked up the cable TV again. Only lets in the Disney Channel and the Weather Channel.
When asked why the weather channel he replied, "So they will know how hot it's gonna be while they are working on my chain gangs."
He cut off coffee since it has zero nutritional value.
When the inmates complained, he told them, "This isn't the Ritz/Carlton...if you don't like it,
don't come back."
He bought Newt Gingrich's lecture series on videotape that he pipes into the jails.
When asked by a reporter if he had any lecture series by a Democrat, he replied that a democratic lecture series might explain why a lot of the inmates were in his jails in the first place.

More On The Arizona Sheriff:

With temperatures being even hotter than usual in Phoenix (116 degrees just set a new record),
the Associated Press Reports:
About 2,000 inmates living in a barbed-wire-surrounded tent encampment at the Maricopa County Jail have been given permission to strip down to their government-issued pink boxer shorts.
On Wednesday, hundreds of men wearing boxers were either curled up on their bunk beds or chatted in the tents, which reached 138 degrees inside the week before.
Many were also swathed in wet, pink towels as sweat collected on their chests and dripped down to their PINK SOCKS.
"It feels like we are in a furnace," said James Zanzot, an inmate who has live in the tents for 1 year. "It's inhumane."
Joe Arpaio, the tough-guy sheriff who created the tent city and long ago started making his prisoners wear pink, and eat bologna sandwiches, is not one bit sympathetic He said Wednesday that he told all of the inmates: "It's 120 degrees in Iraq and our soldiers are living in tents, too, and they have to wear full battle gear, but they didn't commit any crimes, so shut your damn mouths!"
Way To Go, Sheriff!
Maybe if all prisons were like this one there would be a lot less crime and/or repeat offenders.
Criminals should be punished for their crimes - not live in luxury until it's time for their parole, only to go out and commit another crime so they can get back in to live on taxpayers money and enjoy some things taxpayers can't afford to have for themselves.

Sheriff Joe was just reelected Sheriff in Maricopa County, Arizona.

Posted by: Flynne at October 3, 2007 9:58 AM

I love Sheriff Joe. He's the only republican I vote for time and time again. His attitude is right on. If you don't like jail, then don't commit crimes!

Posted by: Darry at October 3, 2007 10:06 AM

Wow -- let's get cloning up and running.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 3, 2007 11:04 AM

What is particularly strange about these hate crime laws is they also protect the victim's thoughts. Most of these antidiscrimination statutes also include "religion", which, in my opinion, is only an ideology covered with a patina of believing in a higher power. Only in the cases of Jews, who are also an ethnic group (just ask the Nazis), and people who have only the most tenuous connection to their "religion" for cultural or family reasons, can someone not be held responsible for their beliefs. Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islamism, or the Church of the Subgeniusism, are beliefs, not immutable characteristics of a person.

In the normal, Western, liberal, progressive world, beliefs and "religions" are chosen. Why then should believers in "religion" be afforded the same (extra) protections as those who were not asked before birth about their race, gender, sexual orientation (in the majority of cases, although this is disputable), or country of origin?

So, if I believe in the credo of some neo-Nazi movement, or Al Quaeda or some ridiculous ideology or "religion" that tells me to shit on all others not like me...I can be "protected" by hate crime laws when I scream hatred and violence against those "others" and get my ass kicked? The truth is, is that in Europe, I will get my ass sued (and probably kicked) for speaking out against certain protected beliefs and "religions". Without my physically attacking the merest fly.

Posted by: liz at October 3, 2007 11:49 AM

Quote of the day:

"When asked why the weather channel he replied, 'So they will know how hot it's gonna be while they are working on my chain gangs.'"

I just love the plain sense and matter-of-factness of this quote.

Posted by: snakeman99 at October 3, 2007 12:31 PM

Liz brings up a great question. People make the mistake of equating feeling religious beliefs are stupid with being racist. Walter Benn, in The Trouble With Diversity, also points out the fallacy in this. We don't think it's horrible if a Republican thinks a Democrat is kind of an idiot for believing Hillarycare is a good idea, or if a Democrat thinks a Republican is deluded for believing in free-market capitalism. So, why is it horrible if I think (and express) that it's silly to believe, without evidence, in god?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 3, 2007 12:48 PM

Liz has a valid point - however - the precedent was set for religion to be protected 200+ years ago, when they wrote the First Amendment. I don't think protecting Muslims (have you ever noticed there are no claims of "Hinduphobia" or "Buddhaphobia"?) was what they had in mind, but it's there on paper, and we have to deal with it.

We may end up having to amend that one to clarify its language, before this war with islamofascism is over.

Posted by: Larry at October 3, 2007 1:09 PM

More on sheriff Joe

On a botched swat raid, in which they fired tear gas to arrest a man wanted for TRAFFIC tickets. Joe’s deputes drove a dog INTO a fire that burned the house to the ground and were reported to have laughed at the owner as the dog burned alive, in the same raid an armored vehicles parking break failed, it rolled down the street and crushed a car.

He had entrapped an 18yr old kid in to a fake assignation attempt for publicity.
In January of this year the sheriffs office released the fact that it had 70,000 outstanding warrants it has failed to serve or make arrests on.

People are dying in his restraint chairs and one woman was locked away and slipped into diabetic coma and died when deputies ignored her cries for help

One major controversy includes the 1996 death of inmate Scott Norberg while he was in custody. Norberg was arrested for chasing two young girls in Mesa, Arizona. Arpaio's office repeatedly claimed Norberg was also high on methamphetamines, but a blood toxicology performed post-mortem conclusively proved this was not true. During his internment, detention officers shocked Norberg more than 20 times with a stun-gun, including on his testicles. According to an investigation by Amnesty International, Norberg was already handcuffed and face down when officers dragged him from his cell and placed him in a restraint chair with a towel covering his face. After Norberg's corpse was discovered, detention officers accused Norberg of attacking them as they were trying to restrain him. The cause of his death, according to the Maricopa County medical examiner, was due to "positional asphyxia". Sheriff Arpaio investigated and subsequently cleared County detention officers of any criminal wrongdoing.
Norberg’s parents filed a lawsuit against Joe Arpaio and his office. The lawsuit was settled for 8 million following a highly contentious legal battle. Despite vowing to never settle, the case quickly closed after it was disclosed the Sheriff's office had destroyed key evidence in the case.


He ignores public record laws and routinely refuses to release documents to news papers as required by Arizona law.

A few years ago just before I joined the army he tried to have the director of the prison system arrested for “threatening his life”. The corrections director was retiring and due to threat on his life from the Mexican mafia he was attempting to get federal protection for himself and his family before formalizing his retirement. Unfortunately good ol Joe leaked the story and Stewart(the director of the dept of corrections) didn’t get his security. Needless to say he was pissed and cussed Joe out. Joe tried to fake another death threat, unfortunately given everyone at the party saw the fight and heard no death threats Joe wasn’t able to salve his wounded ego

During a recent sting of a prostitution ring deputies has sex with the prostitutes before arresting them

As for why Joe got re elected, even though all the police agencies in the county and senator McCain endorsed Saban, well .. . .


Somehow a local news station got a report of Saban being investigated for rape BEFORE the witness had even been interviewed. The allegation was from Saban foster mother, the allegation is 30yrs old and she has a documented history of falsely accusing others of sexual assault - the woman’s own kids say she’s full of shit..


The man is constantly over budget, and the wrongful death suits cost a fortune - here is a quote from one of Joes prisoners from Aug of 99
"I have been incarcerated in Estrella Jail since May 19, 1999 on a charge of custodial interference. . . . At the time, I was two and a half months pregnant by my husband.
"I was housed in E-dorm along with 149 other women. E-dorm has no air conditioning and the swamp cooler was malfunctioning. Once the swamp cooler was fixed, the Jail Commander refused to turn it on. The only cooling came from a few floor fans, which the detention officer regularly shut off as punishment for such things as talking too much or being off one's bunk at the wrong time.
"When I got to jail, the doctor ordered an ultrasound which showed a healthy baby with good movement. . . .
"I became dehydrated from the heat and from diarrhea. I began losing weight (20 pounds in 2 months), yet despite numerous calls from my husband and the Public Defender's office begging the jail to do something so I would not lose my baby, nothing was done until I fainted on my way to court on July 19, 1999.
"That day, the doctor in medical could not find my baby boy's heartbeat, but still wanted me to wait until July 28 to be checked out. One of the volunteer doctors stood up and told them that would be unacceptable.
"I discovered my baby had died in utero at 18 weeks gestation.
"Please inform the people about what [Sheriff Joe Arpaio] does to innocent people."


Quite frankly Flynne and with all due respect it is idiots like your father who refuse to see the whole picture that allow this sadist free reign to torture and kill people.

I have no problem with the concept behind tent city, only the sadistic application of it by a man who is quite literally insane

Posted by: lujlp at October 3, 2007 1:16 PM

Well, Amy, even some beliefs that are not covered by the magic patina of "religion" are off limits.

See how far you get in LA telling your dinner party hosts that the Shoshone tribe were a primitive, maladapted and waning culture in the grand march of technological advancement, for example.

Although I absolutley agree with your post pointing out the acceptability in criticizing certain beliefs and not others, based on little beyond the false division between "relgious" and "secular". Basically, as you can probably tell, I think that they are all the same thing. The difference is the quality, both humanistically and logically, involved.

Take what has been happening in Burma. The government is disappearing monks. I have a problem with this. Not because they are "religious men" (although this seems to be the point of view of many Birmanese), but because they are pacifists, due to their relgion.

In other words, religion is not enough. The quality of your beliefs mean a lot. Yeah, I am a really shitty moral relavitist. I try, but nonetheless think that some ideas are generally better than others.

Which probably means I need to watch my back in case anyone wants to do a "hate crime" against what I stand for. Maybe someday my beliefs will be protected too.

"My freedom ends where yours begins" is an excellent rule of thumb, imo.

Posted by: liz at October 3, 2007 1:17 PM

So, why is it horrible if I think (and express) that it's silly to believe, without evidence, in god?

I think it's because most sheeple can't understand how or why you could possibly think that way, and sheeple are afraid of what they don't understand, so, in order to make themselves feel better, they have to go out of their way to try to discredit you and others who think like you. It's not right, but there it is. o_O

Posted by: Flynne at October 3, 2007 1:20 PM

I don't understand why the discussion -- pro and anti -- of hate crimes legislation tends to center around murder. As I understand it, murder is punishable (depending on where you murder somebody) with life in prison or death; I don't think either is a slap on the wrist.

Where I think -- fwiw -- that it gets harder to argue against hate crimes legislation is in things that are, at least, arguably worse if they're motivated by bigotry. It's a bad thing to, say, burn a garbage can on your neighbor's lawn to intimidate him; it's at least arguably worse to burn a cross on his lawn because you're trying to get black folks to fear living on the block.

Is there some good reason that it's unrealistic and/or stupid to punish the second more severely?

Posted by: Joel Rosenberg at October 3, 2007 1:35 PM

Lujlp, I know that the guy isn't perfect, but he's not "constantly over-budget." In fact, the total costs of his lawsuits are less than the $18 million per year that the county was spending on stray animals. And there are other things I could pick apart, but you'd pick back, and that's not really what we're here for, is it?

Anyway, in all, fairness, here's the Wiki link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Arpaio

Posted by: Flynne at October 3, 2007 1:38 PM

Rhetorical question: was the Jena assault a hate crime? Al Sharpton my rue the day he ever jumped on the hate crime bandwagon, if the prosecutor tries to justify the long prison sentences he's seeking for the black perps by calling it a hate crime.

What goes around comes around.

Posted by: Larry at October 3, 2007 1:55 PM

But isn't the cross burning to intimidate a family out of the neighborhood also a form of assault? We have laws against that.

P.S. I encountered some of this stuff as a kid. Christians egging our house, shaving creaming "Dirty Jews" on the garage door, etc.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 3, 2007 1:58 PM

Joel -

There's a very good reason it's both unrealistic AND stupid.

You cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt (excepting a confession) that someone did something for this reason, and not that reason. So, absent a confession, you are lowering the standards of evidence with the intention of punishing a crime more harshly.

Which means you must violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. What a hate crime law does, quite specifically is make it more illegal for one class of person to do something than for another class.

It also gets the court system bogged down in group-identity politics, and the legal assignment of an individual into a protected class. So what started as a simple criminal trial for aggravated battery now becomes an evidentiary hearing to determine if the complainant has a legitimate claim to protection.

So, very simply, eliminate the hate-crime statutes entirely. Make the police investigate all crimes with equal vigor, regardless of the specific traits of the complainants. Enough of the 'get-even-with-em-ism'.

Posted by: brian at October 3, 2007 2:03 PM

Here's an example I just came up with.

I'm in a bar. A homosexual man hits on me. I politely rebuff him. He throws his drink on me. I punch his lights out.

Now, when I'm arrested and charged, what do you suppose is going to be presented to the jury?

I punched him because he's gay, I punched him because he hit on me, I punched him because he threw a drink at me.

Hate crime statutes assume the existence of bias, and seek to punish that bias. Which means that no matter what I say in my defense, and regardless the order of events, the prosecution will be trying to convince the jury that since I've spoken out against gay marriage, it constitutes proof that I "hate" gays, and therefore I hit the guy because he's a homosexual.

How can I possibly get a fair trial in that situation?

Posted by: brian at October 3, 2007 2:08 PM

Wear lipstick.

Posted by: Crid at October 3, 2007 2:19 PM

Crid, sometimes you just slay me.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 3, 2007 2:30 PM

Crid -

You really think that walking into the court room and going "I'm FAAABULOUS!" is going to help?

Posted by: brian at October 3, 2007 2:39 PM

Well, you probably also need coaching from Lena in bitchy hand gesturing.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 3, 2007 2:49 PM

"Lujlp, I know that the guy isn't perfect..."

Flynne,

I don't think Arizona's Sheriff Joe remotely deserves to be praised with the faint damn of "isn't perfect"!

Lujlp seems far nearer the mark - even though I'd say the guy is sadistic crazy like a fox rather than lunatic.

Sure, Joe Arpaio is brilliant at presenting himself as a tough little god fearin' non-PC wild west frontier rooster doing a dirty job.

But many of the cartoonish claims in your Dad's favorite email are ludicrously slanted or incomplete. (And, of course, none of the points Lujlp made get a look-in).

Your quoted email asks: "I have long wondered when the rest of the country would take a look at the way he runs the jail system, and copy some of his ideas."

Maybe because the rest of the country - on balance - doesn't like brutal tinpot fiefdoms based on crude personality cults with no respect for human rights?

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at October 3, 2007 3:03 PM

Flyne that figure is only the cost of the settlements, it does not take into account the lawyers fees for those settled cases. Nor does it take into account the cost of active and pending litigation and the possible awards they might win. Nor the cost of Joe personal litigation(paid for by our taxes) against newspapers and various people on his enimes list.

Posted by: lujlp at October 3, 2007 3:08 PM

> the rest of the country - on
> balance - doesn't like brutal
> tinpot fiefdoms

Word.

PS- Those wings for "on balance" were a nice touch

Posted by: Crid at October 3, 2007 3:52 PM

"- Those wings for "on balance" were a nice touch."

Good catch, Crid.

A deliberate touch, yes - but I've a hunch you are quite wrong about my intentions.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at October 3, 2007 4:03 PM

Determining motive is a key element in many trials, especially murder trials, and already has great bearing on the level of punishment meted out (Murder in the 1st degree has harsher penalties than murder in the 2nd degree, etc). Why is it suddenly akin to prosecuting a thought crime if applied to hate crimes (I prefer calling them 'bias crimes')? The victim is not, as in an 'ordinary' crime, just the person on whom it was perpetrated and society in general, but on a particular subset of society. The punishment should be adjusted accordingly.

Posted by: ScottyMac at October 3, 2007 4:15 PM

Scotty,

First degree murder is when a person ends the life of another with malice aforethought and premeditation.

Malice aforethought doesn't = "I hate gays so I'm gonna kill 'em" it means killing someone intentionally or w/ extreme disregard for human life. It has nothing to do with motivation. Motivation may DRIVE the person to do the killing, but malice aforethought means the murderer knows full well that his/her actions will result in ending the life of another.

Premeditation means the murderer sat around, twiddled his thumbs and said "By, Jove, that's the ticket! I'll KILL the bastard for sleeping with my wife!" As opposed to walking into his bedroom to see his wife under the jerk and beating him until he's dead. No premeditation. He might have wanted the guy dead - but if he took a run around the block and went over to a friend's house to talk about it, he'd probably realize that life in prison wasn't a great option (cause wifey would just find another guy and get to keep the house).

Motivation may help the prosecution understand the killer and paint a pretty (ugly) picture - but if I plan out to murder my husband for diddling the maid or kill my neighbor because he's black... it's the same crime. First degree. Possible motivations of different suspects help point police in the right direction...*but it by no means outlines legislation which regulates thought.*

Posted by: Gretchen at October 3, 2007 4:48 PM

Exactly. We charge and prosecute for motivation when there's evidence of it, like in the example Gretchen gives above, where a person pre-plans a crime.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 3, 2007 4:55 PM

Thanks for the thoughtful reply, Gretchen. Gotta run, and no online service at home for the moment, so I'll reply more tomorrow.

Posted by: ScottyMac at October 3, 2007 4:56 PM

> I've a hunch you are
> quite wrong

Curses, foiled again!

Know why? Because Tressider, like all the best liberals, has savvy. She's aware of the friendly-seeming tricks that bad people use to corrupt and derail the fundamental decency that beats in all human hearts. Nope, you're never going to pull a fast one on her! She's alert to the tricks and sees through the deceptions!

> it by no means outlines
> legislation

True enough, but if a lawyer stops by here, it would be great to read a three-sentence summation of what "intention" means in criminal law. We're probably not the first ones to chew on this....

Posted by: Crid at October 3, 2007 5:42 PM

ScottyMac - The victim is not, as in an 'ordinary' crime, just the person on whom it was perpetrated and society in general, but on a particular subset of society. The punishment should be adjusted accordingly.

No, it should not. 'society' is not something that is recognized nor protected under law. Our law is based upon individual rights, not group rights. The best reason for keeping it that way is simple - who gets to determine if someone is 'authentically' a member of a protected group? Is membership in such a group self-defined? Or is it codified in law?

Gretchen - I am not a lawyer, so I'm probably talking out my ass here, but it's always been my understanding that means, motive, and opportunity are used to determine the facts of a crime, so that the proper laws may be applied. Motive is usually nothing more than a determination of intent. Did I intend to harm/kill, or not.

The difference between Manslaughter and Murder the absence of malice in the former.

The difference in degrees for murder vary, but at least around here (CT) you have capital felony murder (punishable by death or LWOP) which requires specific aggravating factors (killed a cop, multiple simultaneous murder, murder of a minor, murder in the furtherance of an underlying felony, others); felony murder (intentional killing of another person); arson murder (person killed as a result of an arson - which is interesting - you don't need intent to kill there. Intent follows the match???)

Then there's manslaughter. You didn't intend to kill someone, but as a result of actions you took (or sometimes failed to take) someone died.

But if the intent to kill was there, the law ought not discriminate as to the REASON why the intent to kill was present.

At least that's my opinion. That, a quarter, and a time machine will get you a coffee.

Posted by: brian at October 3, 2007 6:48 PM

Morning,

Brian: "means, motive, and opportunity are used to determine the facts of a crime, so that the proper laws may be applied. Motive is usually nothing more than a determination of intent."

...more or less, yes. Motive is a driving force behind someone's intent. The law doesn't (well, who knows w/ hate crime laws) apply to the MOTIVE.

"Did I intend to harm/kill, or not."

Yes...Some people are putting motive and intent in the same bucket. They're DIFFERENT. Busting a Murder One suspect involves looking to motive to help paint the picture and determine possible suspects: was it the wife who wanted the life insurance; the girlfriend/secretary who couldn't stand being in the shadows...or the guy walking his dog. Guy w/ dog doesn't have a motive so he probably wouldn't go on the list of suspects.

Motive ("I want the insurance money") inspires the desire to perform the act and pushes the person to carry through ("I will shoot my husband when he walks through the door tonight" = INTENT).

INTENT is when a person purposefully pursues an end "x" ("I am GOING TO kill him" as opposed to "I want the money") with the full knowledge of the outcome of "doing the thing." If I shoot my husband in the head I KNOW there's a 99.99% chance he will DIE.

WHY did I WANT to shoot him in the head? That's motive and a separate issue. The facts would be that 1) I decided to do it 2) I did do it.

Intent is punishable even if the plan is foiled and not carried through (attempted murder). Having a motive to do something means nothing - being mad b/c my husband cheated doesn't mean I want to kill him. But, I could be unstable and then decide to do it.

No worries people, I don't have a husband. I just wanted to use an example that involved emotion (not concrete) instead of race, sexual orientation, etc. in order to illustrate what motive v. intent is - hate crime legislation muddles this distinction in a funky way that really fucks w/ the law.

I'll have my bf/lawyer check this out and have him correct me if my wording isn't as accurate as it should be.

Posted by: Gretchen at October 4, 2007 4:44 AM

"Tressider, like all the best liberals, has savvy. She's aware of the friendly-seeming tricks that bad people use to corrupt and derail the fundamental decency that beats in all human hearts. Nope, you're never going to pull a fast one on her! She's alert to the tricks and sees through the deceptions!"

Oh, you credit me with far too much, Crid.

My "on balance" comment was simply meant to acknowledge that what is tolerated/approved locally (like Sheriff Joe's singular prison service oligarchy in Arizona) likely wouldn't be accepted nationally; different standards of scrutiny and all that.

If it helps at all, I was thinking - because of Flynne's comment that Joe Arpaio "isn't perfect" - about the career of D.C's Marion Barry (and that famous come-back slogan: "He May Not Be Perfect, But He's Perfect for D.C").

Thanks for the compliment all the same!

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at October 4, 2007 5:13 AM

Jody, my that's not my dad's "favorite" email, but thanks for thinking so, you're so perceptive, aren't you. I believe he forwarded it to me as a way of illustrating that some people aren't afraid to be tough on criminals, instead of wasting taxpayer dollars on making sure they have all the comforts of home. I think the system gives to much to the incarcerated as it is, and it was interesting to see how the one guy handles it. He keeps getting re-elected, so I guess there must be people out there who agree with some of the things he's doing. I wasn't aware of all the other stuff that Lujlp pointed out, and I stand corrected.

Maybe because the rest of the country - on balance - doesn't like brutal tinpot fiefdoms based on crude personality cults with no respect for human rights?

Oh, but the criminals don't have to be concerned with their victims' human rights, is that it? They're in jail to get 3 squares, free gym passes, TV, and a college education, all courtesy of the taxpayers? Sorry, my mistake.

Posted by: Flynne at October 4, 2007 5:41 AM

Flynne,

On the one hand, you say you "stand corrected" about some of the glowing claims made about Joe Arpaio in the email you shared.

And on the other, you object to prisons: "wasting taxpayer dollars on making sure [inmates] have all the comforts of home".

In the end, though, you seem to feel in your gut that Arizona's Sheriff Joe is doing something right - even when that's tricky to prove?

We disagree, then.

Obviously, I was struck by this:

"No one should aspire to be like Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He is named as a defendant, as of this writing, in 4,344 lawsuits in U.S. District Court and another 500 or 600 in Maricopa County Superior Court. He's had so many claims paid against him for wrongful deaths, medical neglect, preventable suicides and murders by inmates due to no supervision, that the risk insurance deductible was raised from $1 million per incident to $5 million per incident. He is the single largest liability to taxpayers in Maricopa County. The reason mainstream media hasn't made a peep about it is because his son-in-law is on the editorial board of the Arizona Republic and, up until recently, his daughter worked for the Tribune, the other major metropolitan newspaper.

Linda Bentley
Reporter
www.SonoranNews.com
Cave Creek, AZ

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at October 4, 2007 7:11 AM

Jody, obviously, I'm struck by that article too, I was totally unaware of the man's numerous transgressions. However, I stand by my belief that the taxpaying public should not provide any criminal with a college education, or any perks that makes their stay in prison akin to a day at the beach. Criminals are in prison because they violated other people's rights. They shouldn't be rewarded for that, should they? Please, correct me if I'm wrong. And if all of the allegations against Sheriff Joe are true, he should be put in his own tent prison. But I think he was on the right track by not molly-coddling prisoners. Obviously he took it to extremes, and I'm not condoning that by any means. I said I stand corrected.

Posted by: Flynne at October 4, 2007 7:24 AM

I'm with you, Flynne. Prisoners should pay their own way, and should work every day in prison with their wages going to their victims as reparations.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 4, 2007 8:00 AM

"Criminals are in prison because they violated other people's rights. They shouldn't be rewarded for that, should they?"

Flynne,
One of my friends works as a senior forensic psychiatrist in the UK's prison service. (She is employed by the National Health Service - now as a consultant on permanent contract).

Her private anecdotes about the hopeless shitbags she evaluates, the self-serving bastards, the grotesquely- and slyly - skilled system manipulators, the slimebags and all the rest are appalling - and incredibly depressing.

She would be the first to disabuse soggy liberals that a spot of poetry and wood-work and understanding on the public tit can turn lifers around.

After 20 years, however, she still reserves her greatest contempt for sadistic prison staff. (They are surprisingly few, apparently).

One of the many reasons for her contempt is because they permit further gaming of the system. Their unprofessionalism encourages snowball litigation by other functional inmates with any sort of grudge whatsoever.

More shit where it's not needed, basically.

Flynne. I don't think this is a mind-changing answer! But, fwiw, I've just tried to explain where I'm coming from.

I think there are deeply pragmatic - as well as gut -reasons not to wink at institutionalized brutality - especially when it's so cleverly spun by a "colorful" character like Arpaio.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at October 4, 2007 8:31 AM

Gretchen, Brian and Amy:

First off, I was being sloppy in my use of the degrees of murder and conflating the word "motivation" with "intent." Apologies for that.

My main point is that, as Brian pointed out more clearly than I did, motivation is a factor in determining guilt and level of punishment at trials (not just as tools in investigating crimes), and even though that is dependent on the thoughts of the criminal we have processes that attempt to determine them, without anyone calling that a "thought-crime."

Amy, as you point out, we charge based on motivation when there is evidence of it. To my knowledge (and I'm not up on the particular details of this bill) there would need to be evidence that the crime was committed out of bias before it could be prosecuted as such. These laws usually are applied if the victim was targeted because he was perceived by the perpetrator as being a member of a particular group. Actual membership in that group is irrelevant.

Brian: "Society" may not be recognized under law, but "the people" are. We do not let the immediate victims make charges or grant leniency to a perpetrator in criminal cases, "the people" do, because in addition to the individual who was harmed, society was also harmed. You also wrote "...who gets to determine if someone is 'authentically' a member of a protected group?" The perpetrator does.

Suppose the house belonging to a mixed-race couple is spray-painted with the word "poop." There is a certain damage, mostly monetary, that was done to the victim. Now suppose their house was spray-painted with the phrase "It is preferable that there be no miscegenation." Even if the space needing to be painted over is the same size in each case, there is still an escalation in the cost of the crime. In the first case, the homeowners pay to repaint, and think to themselves "jerk!" In the second, they pay to repaint and worry about their neighbors. They may not walk the streets hand-in-hand anymore, or not walk the streets at all. Any mixed-race couple driving by is impacted as well. Merely painting "poop" on their house does not make it a bias crime, it is dependent on the intent of the perpetrator.

Posted by: ScottyMac at October 4, 2007 8:32 AM

Flynne. I don't think this is a mind-changing answer! But, fwiw, I've just tried to explain where I'm coming from.

I think there are deeply pragmatic - as well as gut -reasons not to wink at institutionalized brutality - especially when it's so cleverly spun by a "colorful" character like Arpaio.

I agree with you on this, Jody; as I said before, I wasn't aware how "colorful" this guy is! The sadistic prison staffers, even though they may be few, are enough that the system is corrupted and desperately needs an overhaul. I think Amy's idea of making the prisoners work every day, with their wages (or at least part of them) going to the victims' reparations is a good start, at the least. Denying them privileges such as cable TV and college educations should be a given as well. And the self-serving bastards, the grotesquely - and slyly - skilled system manipulators, the slimebags and all the rest probably need mandatory, intensive psychological therapy before even being considered for parole or even privileges of any sort. But I've no idea how this could be accomplished in a cost-effective manner. I'm sure it's not even a thought to the powers that are in charge of the prison systems.

Posted by: Flynne at October 4, 2007 9:38 AM

"Merely painting "poop" on their house does not make it a bias crime, it is dependent on the intent of the perpetrator."

Solid example, Scotty, but...there are many cases where motivation is not clear. If a person is beaten and mugged - and happens to be gay - can we assume that it was a "bias crime?" Does the "extra something" get added into the judgment automatically? What standard do you suppose would work?

Posted by: Gretchen at October 4, 2007 9:41 AM

Gretchen:

If motivation is not clear, then bias can't be determined. The standard to be used is determining the intent of the perpetrator.

Can Brian be charged with a bias crime because he is known to be against same-sex marriage and punches out a man who plants an uninvited kiss on him in a gay bar? No, just a garden-variety assault charge. This is true regardless of the sexual orientation of the man who kissed Brian: He could have been a straight guy on extasy (sp?).

Had Brian told someone that he was going to a gay bar in the hopes of eliciting some action so that he could respond with violence, then yes. If Brian has a pattern of doing so, most-likely yes. Who makes the determination to charge a hate-crime? The DA's office, like in every other case. Who makes the determination that the intent was proved? The jury, as in every other case.

Posted by: ScottyMac at October 4, 2007 9:58 AM

And in today's gay-on-gay hate crime news:
"Under New York law, they said, defendants can be convicted of a hate crime even if they bear no actual hatred for their victim."
http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/law/10/04/hatecrime.trial.ap/index.html

Posted by: Gog_Magog_Carpet_Reclaimers at October 4, 2007 10:13 AM

Flynne,
Thanks for such a thoughtful reply - and I cheer victim reparations to the rafters.

Also, sorry for the snotty-sounding swipe at your Dad's allegedly "favorite" email. Not sure what I was trying to convey there - it came out horribly anyway.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at October 4, 2007 10:23 AM

"Under New York law, they said, defendants can be convicted of a hate crime even if they bear no actual hatred for their victim."

Which illustrates why they should be called 'bias crimes.'

Posted by: ScottyMac at October 4, 2007 10:26 AM

{{{Jody}}}} (that's my version of a cuber-hug) Thank you. :)

Posted by: Flynne at October 4, 2007 11:06 AM

cYber-hug, I meant. o_O

Posted by: Flynne at October 4, 2007 11:07 AM

Aw, it's a love fest today, on Advice Goddess!!! Even I'm being nice!

Posted by: Gretchen at October 4, 2007 11:14 AM

Let's not let it get out of hand!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 4, 2007 11:29 AM

Scotty - you're still wrong about the court determining what was in someone's mind.

Intent is typically pretty obvious. If you point a gun at someone and kill them, then you intended to kill them. You don't really need to get into someone's mind to figure it out. You KNOW what they were thinking.

It gets a little grayer when you have someone like Mary Winkler, who claims (absent any evidence) to have been abused. But the manner in which she committed her crime is STILL intentional.

As to your example concerning mixed-race couples - do you really think that punishing someone more harshly for a belief is going to make them NOT believe it? That's somewhere between unlikely and damned impossible.

I'm pretty sure that under Connecticut law you can be convicted of a bias-crime, hate-crime, whatever the fuck you want to call it, with no evidence of bias whatsoever, simply because the victim is a certified member of a protected class.

Which gets to your second wrong - it is NOT the perp that makes the determination. It is the politically recognized activist groups that make those determinations. Hence anti-gay-marriage homosexuals are not considered 'authentic'. Obama isn't 'black enough'. And so you get, very rapidly, to a point where bias is defined by the political whims of the day.

Which is the very definition of "arbitrary and capricious".

Emotion is not a sound basis for public policy.

Posted by: brian at October 4, 2007 2:13 PM

"I'm pretty sure that under Connecticut law you can be convicted of a bias-crime, hate-crime, whatever the fuck you want to call it, with no evidence of bias whatsoever, simply because the victim is a certified member of a protected class."

If that is, in fact true, then I'm VERY afraid for this country.

"Which is the very definition of "arbitrary and capricious".
Emotion is not a sound basis for public policy."

...couldn't agree more!

Posted by: Gretchen at October 4, 2007 2:22 PM

Brian: "You don't really need to get into someone's mind to figure it out. You KNOW what they were thinking."

Hmmmmm. Are you sure you want to stick with that? I'm at least arguing that intent needs to be determined through due-process.

"But if the intent to kill was there, the law ought not discriminate as to the REASON why the intent to kill was present."

Such as, for self-defense versus to collect on life insurance? So, to you, intent goes only so far as "I intended to spray paint that wall," to use my earlier example, and the reason why is irrelevant. In the first instance, it could be a teenager's cheap thrill, and in the second, it could be to promote fear or distrust for a segment of the community. Seems pretty clear, if intent is established, that the punishments should be different, as the offense is different.

More Brian "...do you really think that punishing someone more harshly for a belief is going to make them NOT believe it?

No, I don't, whatever gave you that idea? Punishing people for their beliefs is repugnant. Let people believe whatever they want, but if they act on those beliefs in illegal ways, then let the punishment fit the crime. Spray-painting just to vandalize is one thing, spray-painting that singles out a segment of society is another.

As to the authenticity of gays as viewed by other gays, or Obama as viewed by other blacks, I don't see the connection to my point. If someone attacks Obama because he's black, and the perp doesn't want a black man as President, it's irrelevant what other blacks think of Obama's 'blackness.' The thug has self-selected the reason, and the punishment.

Posted by: ScottyMac at October 4, 2007 3:01 PM

Brian: "Emotion is not a sound basis for public policy."

Gretchan "...couldn't agree more!"

Scotty "...couldn't agree more!"

Posted by: ScottMac at October 4, 2007 3:03 PM

Hate crime legislation is BS. So are some other ways of dealing with crime... Why is it that "attempted" murder gets a lesser penalty than murder? Just because the perpetrator is a bad shot, they get off easy? Makes no sense.

Posted by: Inquiring at October 4, 2007 8:15 PM

*Why is it that "attempted" murder gets a lesser penalty than murder?*

"Well, you see Birch, I'm presently incarcerated. Convicted of a crime I didn't even commit! Huh! 'Attempted murder' Now honestly what is that? Do they give out a Nobel prize for attempted chemistry?" -- Sideshow Bob

Posted by: ou812 at October 4, 2007 8:28 PM

Back when that guy got dragged to death behind a pickup truck in Texas, someone was giving Bush shit for opposing hate-crimes laws.

Oh, they didn't just give him shit - they brought the DIABETIC PREGNANT DAUGHTER of the murder victim to Bush's office and had HER, amid tears, ask him to pass the hate-crimes bill. He still refused. (And note: Texas had a hate-crimes bill at the time! It's just that no one was bothering to bring it up in the James Byrd trial because they were too busy getting two guys SENTENCED TO DEATH for CAPITAL MURDER based on the testimony of the third, who is "only" serving life in prison without parole.)

Which is the thing about the more vivid of these "hate crimes" - generally, they're just going to distract law enforcement from prosecuting the *serious* crimes. I mean, the poor woman in West Virginia who was held hostage, raped, called awful names, etc. etc. is the victim of a "hate crime," but I have a feeling that she'd prefer that the law go after the perps for the actual crimes with the long, long sentences.

Now, I can see a role for the bias element to play in determining whether certain behavior constitutes harassment or garden-variety stupidity. But I don't think you need "hate crime" legislation to do that.

Why is it that "attempted" murder gets a lesser penalty than murder?
For the same reason that child rape and other heinous but non-lethal crimes get a lesser penalty than murder - if you impose the death penalty for crimes less than murder, you remove any motive that the perpetrator might have for leaving his/her victim alive. In fact, I'd say that you INCREASE the chance that the perpetrator will slide up into murder to silence the tongue of a person who can incriminate him or her.

As for Sheriff Joe...sounds like a mixed bag. However, I think his idea of having prisoners work with animals is a great one. Let's face it - most of the people in prison for long periods of time didn't exactly have the most psychologically healthy home life. They have Issues. Animals are often the only type of living creature that they can have any sort of healthy relationship with. You obviously want to keep the guys who get off torturing animals away from them, but most prisoners don't - their beef is with people, not animals.

You know, I think I've found something we can all agree on. How about sending Michael Vick to Sheriff Joe's jail and placing him in a cell block with some of the guys working with animals? Works for me...

Posted by: marion at October 5, 2007 12:26 AM

> you remove any motive that
> the perpetrator might have
> for leaving his/her victim
> alive

IANAL and not a historian either, but if memory serves, within my parent's lifetime the law in the United States used to routinely punish kidnappers with death, until someone did the math you're describing.

One of the things I hate about Mexico, and there's much to work with, is that kidnapping for ransom appears to be a much more popular crime than it is here. It's one of those things that's pretty great about the United States... Every now and then you realize that some corner of life here is in really good order and you can't explain why, you just want it to last. And so when you think that there might be a wave of immigrants bringing a bad practice into your culture, your first response is to turn up the legal heat, but....

We need more lawyers on this blog.

Can't believe I said that.

Mexico and lawyers were on my mind because I just read this entry on what is arguably Los Angeles' finest law blog, and one of her more interesting sites generally. It's not really a blog, though the guy welcomes and integrates reader feedback. It's got pictures, it's got history, it's got news, it's about something that touches all our lives, and it has fabulous jargon. ("General Average declared!") The guy who writes it seems nearly as crazed as Luke Ford, but he probably makes more money.

Follow any link in the yellow band for more tales of disaster and derring-do.

Posted by: Crid at October 5, 2007 5:11 AM

Jesus Christ, his home page has the Perry Mason theme, the one with the 1950s sex-slut piano.

Posted by: Crid at October 5, 2007 5:13 AM

Ah, there.

Posted by: Crid at October 5, 2007 5:22 AM

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