Prosecution Methods Show That Hate Crimes Laws Don’t Punish Thoughts / LGBTQ Nation
This one always makes me a little crazy. I’m a believer in hate crime laws, same as I’m a believer that you can get a longer sentence for using a gun, targeting police, or children. Not all of these are equally easy to prove or convict on. But they are all worthwhile attempts to deter and punish when necessary specific behaviors that bring danger to society.
Lopez talked to Jeannine Bell of Indiana University’s law school about the argument that hate crimes legislation attempts to control people’s thoughts. Her response is one that I’ve read many times before:
It’s not just that you dislike people of my background. You’re entirely free to dislike people of my background. It’s not that you tell me that you don’t like me. Again, entirely free to do that. It’s that you selected me for some sort of criminal action because of my background.
Later in the piece, Lopez writes about why it’s difficult to prosecute crimes as hate crimes:
…“The problem is not all hate-mongers are stupid,” [Northeastern University professor Jack] Levin said. “They may not let you know that they hate the members of a particular group. They may realize that they’re better off not voicing a racial slur or [putting] racist graffiti on a sidewalk or wall of a building.”