Jun 18, 2009

Hate Crimes Not About Punishment

Joseph Farah
By Joseph Farah

The so-called "hate crimes" bill making its way through the U.S. Senate purports to be about stiffer punishment of those offenses motivated by bigotry. But it is not. It never is.

The whole notion of "hate crimes," not just the specific and particularly reprehensible bill approved by the House of Representatives and awaiting approval by the Senate, but all such misguided legislation, has never been about sentences. It has never been about deterrence of future crimes. Instead, it is about creating new classes of political protection – unequal protection under the law, a wholly unconstitutional and immoral idea.

Let me demonstrate what I mean.

The bill in the Senate right now is called "The Matthew Shepard Act" – named for the patron saint of the homosexual activist movement after one of their own was murdered by two thugs who robbed him and tortured him to death.

It was alleged, never with any substance, that he was victimized because he was a homosexual.

Both of the men convicted of the crime are currently serving life sentences. One of them faced the death penalty, but Matthew Shepard's mother argued against it.

Yet Matthew Shepard's mother is right back in the thick of arguing for the new federal law – whose sole purpose is supposedly to provide stiffer penalties for hate crimes.

Mind you, Matthew Shepard's murderers got a life sentence not because of the motivation for their crime, but merely because of the heinousness of the offense. His mother literally saved one of the perpetrators from the death sentence by arguing for life in prison.

She not only doesn't want tougher penalties for those who commit crimes against people based on what's going through their mind, she didn't even want them when it came to punishing those who took the life of her own son.

Please recognize that I am not the one who dubbed this new bill "The Matthew Shepard Act." The people promoting it did that. So what exactly does Matthew Shepard have to do with the legislation?

Absolutely nothing.
  • He wasn't victimized because he was a homosexual.
  • Even though there were no hate crimes laws in place when his victimizers were tried, they got life in prison.
  • One of the perpetrators would likely have received the death penalty if not saved by Matthew Shepard's mother.
So please explain to me what Matthew Shepard has to do with this bill? It would make more sense to name the bill after him if those supporting it wanted to reduce sentences for crimes, not increase them.

If I had been the judge or a juror in the Matthew Shepard case, I would have favored executing those responsible.

If I were the judge or a juror in the future trial of James Wenneker von Brunn, who killed a security guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington last week, I'm pretty sure I would favor execution.

Those of us opposing hate crimes legislation are not generally for less punishment of crimes. We are generally in favor of more punishment. We just don't think punishment should be selective based on whatever warped ideas may have motivated the crime.

Ironically, the people who support hate crimes legislation are usually the very same people arguing for leniency, phony compassion and even acquittal based on any technicality imaginable. They will also be the first to suggest the victimizer was insane when he committed the offense.

That's why I know the whole concept of hate crimes laws is fraudulent.

The proponents don't want stiffer penalties. They want to create new classes of people – some who deserve more rights than others. That's what it's about. That's what it has always been about. And that's what it will always be about.

Once government sells the idea that "hate" is a crime, it can start defining what "hate" is. Pretty soon, the "hater" won't have to commit a crime to be punished. The mere act of "hating" will become the crime.

Is that the kind of society in which you want to live?

Related News

Christian conservatives fight expansion of hate-crimes law - USA Today
Gay activists impatient with Obama and Congress - Yahoo News
Eric Holder Exploits Tragedies to Promote Hate Crimes Bill - Opposing Views