Thursday, November 17, 2005

Do what's right, legislators

If Alabama is going to have a hate crime law -- and it is, because the law is already on the books, and no legislator in his or her right mind would dare to suggest its repeal -- then crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived sexual orientation should be included within its scope.

That's especially true when you consider that FBI statistics show that sexual orientation is the third most common motivator of a hate crime, trailing only race and religion, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. If there's going to be a hate crime law, it's illogical to exclude more than 15 percent of all hate crimes.

State Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, plans to sponsor a bill to address the oversight, and it's tough to think of a reason it shouldn't pass. Of course, these are the same lawmakers who fell all over themselves last year to make gay marriage double-plus illegal, so I wouldn't be shocked if it didn't.

4 Comments:

Blogger Kathy said...

I expect the lawmakers will find a way to quash the proposal, just as they have in the past. They don't want to be seen as giving "special" rights to homosexuals.

8:54 PM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

I suspect you're right, but it'd be nice to be wrong.

I've never quite understood the "special rights" argument as it relates to hate crime statutes. The ones I've seen are written broadly enough to cover crimes motivated not by particular races or religions, but by any race or religion. That includes not only crimes motivated by an attacker's hatred of racial or religious minorities but also crimes motivated by an attacker's hatred of whites or Christians.

10:40 PM  
Blogger Marlin Caddell said...

Since I'm not a lawyer I may not quite understand this, but isn't a crime just a crime. If someone hurts somebody else, isn't that just a crime in itself.

Why exactly does there have to be a special statute making certain crimes special because of their motive?

I just don't understand the designation of "special" crimes based on the motive of the crime.

For example, if a man beats his wife because he hates her, that wouldn't be a "hate" crime. Motive aside, that man is just an assaulter.

If a man beats another man because he hates what religion he happens to be, doesn't that just make him a assaulter too?

An assaulter is an assaulter no matter what the motive is, right?

9:22 AM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

The theory behind hate crime laws is that hate crimes are designed not only to target individual victims due to a certain characteristic of theirs -- race, religion, etc. -- but also to try to intimidate or bully or subdue other members of that race, religion, etc.

In other words, the idea is that the criminal is trying to use the crime to send a message to other people of that race or religion or to make them fear they could be next if they don't leave the neighborhood or change their beliefs or whatnot. A good example is the way that cross burnings have been used historically to send a message to blacks that they weren't welcome in a given place.

Whether you buy into the theory is up to you, but that's the idea behind the laws.

10:35 AM  

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