The Daily Political Blog Politics Daily has published an article about hate crimes. The article is filled with data and statistics (taken from the FBI’s 2008 Hate Crimes Report) and these statistics indicate that hate crimes are up!
The idea that a crime committed against an individual may (if the individual is a member of a protected class) carry two different punishments has never made much sense to me. I guess the theory is that giving a person a harsher sentence for striking out against someone because of WHAT they are rather than WHO they are will reduce the number of crimes against members of those “protected” groups. The protected groups by the way are: race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. Personally, as I said before in an old post, I feel that hate crime legislation violates the First Amendment (equal protection under the law) and the 14th Amendment (the prohibition against double jeopardy but apparently Legislators are neither reading or paying attention to my posts.
Regardless of how I feel about hate crime legislation its very interesting to note (as they did in the Politics Daily story) that there were 7,783 “bias crimes” committed in 2008, a rise of 2% over 2007.
Because of the stiffer penalties imposed at the Federal and State level for attacking a man because of his race or religion or etc. one would think that this type of crime would be going down. That, of course is a government’s only real option in a situation like this — make new laws and impose stiffer penalties; i.e., ‘pile on those disincentives and you can stop any behavior you want to stop.’ Too bad it doesn’t work.
Hate crimes are as old as the Bible and, when you boil it down, people who commit this type of crime are doing so because of their own insecurity and emotional instability. Laws and rules may have a small impact on a few of these people but they will not come near to solving the problem.