Saturday, February 19, 2005

Punishing motive...

I used to live in Travis County, where this news story comes out of.

If you don't feel like clicking on the link, it's just a story about a guy from Austin, TX who beat up a man because he was gay. He's being charged with a hate crime. He could get up to 20 years for it.
Now, I think victimizing people because they are black, gay, women, or whatever minority group is wrong. But here's the deal: It is just as bad to beat up a gay guy because he's gay as it is to beat up a white straight guy because you want his wallet. Beating innocent people up is wrong period; the motive is irrelevant.

When you prosecute motive like this, you open up a door that I think should be left closed. When society decides to punish hate crimes, what the reason you do something is the crime, not the crime itself. What it ultimately says is that we as a society believe that beating up a man because you want to remove his rightful property from him is more honorable than beating up a man because you believe his race is inferior. How absurd! Assaulting innocent people is wrong for any reason. There's no excuse for it. There is no degree of acceptibility attached to some motives rather than others.

For example, let's see I cut off a man's right hand, maiming him for life. Now here is a list of potention motives:

1. He cut me off in traffic
2. I wanted his Camero
3. He was flirting with my girlfriend
4. He was black
5. No reason, I just wanted to.

You're going to tell me that we should somehow rate these five in an order of Best to Worst? That we could "sympathize" with 3 but not with 4? That 4 shocks us worse than 5? Cuz right now, if I did it for reason number 4, I'd get way more jail time than if I did it for number 5, even though 5 is arguably the most evil motive of them all.

This doesn't even get into the fact that hate crimes are almost never charged when a straight white Christian male is the victim... I went searching for some statistics on this, but a lot of the thorough analyses of Hate Crimes stats are on white supremacist websites, and I don't want to affiliate myself with them whether their stats are true or not. Suffice it to say, a lot goes on with this stuff that is suspicious and off-putting.

Now, take away race/religion/ethnicity-biased crimes. Can anyone find any more motives that should be punished more than others? What other mindsets should we severely punish?


Anonymous Kay said...

I think crimes against children and the elderly should be more
severe because these two groups are more defenseless than all the others.

10:44 AM  
Blogger Phil Aldridge said...

I have no problem with crimes against certain victims being more severely punished, but I do have a problem with punishing a guy worse for killing an old guy because he was old than killing him because he was snoring.

12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is OT, but thanks for this blog! I stumbled across it today and it may help alleviate my depression once NYPD Blue goes off the air
: )

10:17 AM  
Blogger Phil Aldridge said...

Thanks for the kind words! It's my goal to make a cop blog that non-cops would be interested in. Hopefully I can satisfy your Law Enforcement jones. :)

10:47 AM  
Blogger Milbarge said...

Sorry this is so late, but I just discovered your blog. My question for someone opposed to hate crime enhancements is how do you feel about special punishments (including the death penalty) for killing someone because he or she is a cop?

10:25 PM  
Blogger Phil Aldridge said...

I honestly think the crime is solely the convergence of action and intent, not motive.

I think anyone who murders a cop should get the death penalty because they murdered a cop. I don't care if it was because they were some half-wit gang member wanna-be trying to impress his loser friends or if it's because he didn't want to go back to jail. The crime is the dead cop, not the man wanting to kill a cop.

The law should be about punishing actions, not making moral judgments about motives.

9:19 AM  

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