Archive for Friday, October 23, 2009

Hate crime protections extended to gays

October 23, 2009


— Physical attacks on people based on their sexual orientation will join the list of federal hate crimes in a major expansion of the civil rights-era law Congress approved Thursday and sent to President Barack Obama.

A priority of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., that had been on the congressional agenda for a decade, the measure expands current law to include crimes based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. The measure is named for Matthew Shepard, the gay Wyoming college student murdered 11 years ago.

To assure its passage after years of frustrated efforts, Democratic supporters attached the measure to a must-pass $680 billion defense policy bill the Senate approved 68-29. The House passed the defense bill earlier this month.

The defense bill is H.R. 2647.


Flap Doodle 8 years, 8 months ago

Somebody forgot their OCD meds this morning?

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 8 months ago

Now a crimial's feelings toward his victim will count as much or more than the crime itself. What a terrible idea.

Welcome, thought police.

mickeyrat 8 years, 8 months ago

While the "feeling toward his victim" might well be a terrible idea, STRS, it is, as I see it, nothing new: our justice system has been (successfully or not) trying to get into people's heads for a long time, whether it is "premeditated" murder, a "crime of passion," or a matter of "competent to stand trial."

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 8 months ago

Premeditation and "crimes of passion" do not describe motive. At the end of the day, our ciminal justice system doesn't delineate between theft motivated by greed and theft motivated financial hardship. Theft is theft.

Equally, when someone is murdered, we shouldn't punish based on the killer's feelings toward his victim. That would be absured, and it would be an insult to the victim's family.

Finally, laws like this only further separate our society into different classes and groups. How tiring. It seems we like to talk a good game about unity, but when we pass laws like this we only serve to divide.

bondmen 8 years, 8 months ago

Every law abiding citizen I know hates crime. Does this new law make US all guilty?

monkey_c 8 years, 8 months ago

So if a NAMBLA member tries to give my son a sucker I can't sock him in the nose? Because man-boy-love is progressive. But, natural consequences are barbaric

Satirical 8 years, 8 months ago

I don't have any issue with laws that provide additional penalties when the purpose of the crime is to create fear in a group of people; such as anti-cross burning laws and when a person of a group is assaulted for the purpose of intimidating that group. Punishment for the assault and separate punishment for the attempted intimidation is justified.

However, I think similar crimes should have similar punishment. So, the punishment for someone assaulting a straight police officer should be the same for someone assaulting a homosexual police officer. Or the punishment for sodomy of a young boy should be the same for a young girl. Preferential treatment should not be given just because in the past one group has been the victim of a particular attack more often in the past.

monkey_c 8 years, 8 months ago

Satirical - Generally I like this level way of viewing things. BUT, if a woman is receiving unwanted advances from a man, that woman is able to defend herself in a number of ways, verbally and if needed I think she could slap-a-dude without repercussions. But if that same fellow were making unwanted advances at a straight fellow and was told to bug-off, then the guy had to slap-a-dude maybe even punch-a-dudue, I'm assuming that would then be a hate crime??

N_Trenched 8 years, 8 months ago

Does this law protect those who hate select groups of people?

Satirical 8 years, 8 months ago

monkey_c.... "...I'm assuming that would then be a hate crime??"

I haven't read the bill, so I don't know. But as I previously stated, I think similar crimes should have similar punishments. In my opinion, the battery committed by the man should receive the same punishment as that committed by the women.

Satirical 8 years, 8 months ago

Liberty_One... "How is punching someone in the face because they are black morally distinguishable from punching him in the face because you intend to rob him?"

The law decides whether a crime deserves a particular punishment and whether there is a mens rea element. I don't necessarily disagree with your argument, as I have stated before similar crimes should have similar punishments, but your example fails because battery doesn't have a mens rea element.

I think it is understandable and justified for the law to consider all the victims when determining a punishment. Usually the only person harmed in a crime is the victim (the emotional impact on family, etc. aside). However, sometimes a crime is committed not only to harm one person, but to send a message to an entire group, a message to terrorize to intimidate and to create fear.

While I do not agree that simply committing a crime against someone in 'X' group means it should be labeled a "hate crime;" I do think the law can take into account the broader victims, other than those who directly suffered from the crime, when the intent includes an attempt to intimidate and terrorize a 'X' group.

Satirical 8 years, 8 months ago


My bad. Thank you for the correction. What I meant was ““your example fails because battery doesn't have a (specific intent) mens rea element.”

You are correct that battery has a mens rea element, but is a general intent crime because the definition does not contain any specific intent beyond that which relates to the actus reus itself ((a)(2)). Your example failed because your argument used a general intent crime as a counter example to a law which presumably only applies when there is specific intent.

ebyrdstarr 8 years, 8 months ago

Liberty, breaking into a house to rob it is a different crime than breaking in to seek shelter from a storm. The first is burglary (entering without consent to commit a felony therein), the second is trespass (entering without consent).

ebyrdstarr 8 years, 8 months ago

I guess I'm quibbling with your statement that "both are equally guilty of the crime." From that statement, I was led to believe that you did not realize those two acts wouldn't just be sentenced differently, but would be charged differently.

Satirical 8 years, 8 months ago

Liberty_One… “Satirical, I'm not sure hate crime laws are specific intent either.”

Your notes aren’t wrong, but here is what LexisNexis states:

§ 5.04 “Specific Intent” and “General Intent” [A] Specific Intent – Generally speaking, a “specific intent” offense is one in which the definition of the crime: (1) includes an intent or purpose to do some future act, or to achieve some further consequence (i.e., a special motive for the conduct), beyond the conduct or result that constitutes the actus reus of the offense, e.g., “breaking and entering of the dwelling of another in the nighttime with intent to commit a felony”; or (2) provides that the defendant must be aware of a statutory attendant circumstance, e.g., “receiving stolen property with knowledge that it is stolen.”

The bill you site is a specific intent crime:

“…intimidates or interferes with, or attempts to injure, intimidate or interfere with….any person because of his race, color, religion or national origin (emphasis added).”

The “something further” is the intimidation “because of” the person’s race, etc. In other words, it could be stated, “Committing X crime with the knowledge race (etc.) and special motive of intimidating based on race, (etc.)”

However, there is a legitimate argument that determining specific intent is fraught with peril. And the law will be applied as a general intent rather than specific intent.

monkey_c 8 years, 8 months ago

Porch Person says "Lots of people on this thread who don't see the problem. That's too bad. The rest of the country does. They are horrified by what some here think is not that big a deal. " What is the rest of the country horrified by?

monkey_c 8 years, 8 months ago

Tom, it says quite a lot about you that you live in a town with no stop lights. That is very evil of you. You are a bad, bad hate monger. AND it is pretty horrible of you to make a decent living and even worse of you to admitt it.

Gareth Skarka 8 years, 8 months ago

Tom is a redneck who enjoys stirring the pot by going to the "big city newspaper site" and making attacks against his intellectual and cultural superiors.

...and he knows it, which is why he's so bitter.

Satirical 8 years, 8 months ago

Deep thoughts by Satirical...

I wonder if it will ever be a "hate crime" to hate "hate crimes..."

monkey_c 8 years, 8 months ago

That did not answer my question. I don't want to research crimes against gays. I know I have not read about many such crimes lately and I stay informed. So I was simply asking you to clarify what you meant.

monkey_c 8 years, 8 months ago

What actually baffles me is that if this is such a pressing issue why did it have to piggie back on a defence bill that "had to be approved" Do you not think it is trickery, so that a politician does not agree or want to vote that way. Their opponents can say "YOU DON'T SUPPORT THE TROOPS!!!!" That is political trickery and it is BS.

Sulla 8 years, 8 months ago

Soooo..heard any good Rock Hudson and Helen Keller jokes lately, anyone?? Get em out before this thing becomes law!

wordgenie8 8 years, 8 months ago

A scary town like Lawrence where people feel inappropriately feel free to approach and bother complete strangers on the basis of offensive stereotypes and unconscious bigotry needs all the hate-crime laws it can get. In this day and age even if it weren't an outrage to impose unthinking assumptions on strangers, it is also terriorizing and makes residents feel unsafe in public. People want and need and desrve to be let alone. Don't think you are merely "trying to be nice" or that you will make things easier for someone when you are more likely scaring them out of their skin and violating people's civil rights."Need help?" is not an appropriate conversational gambit to use on strangers unless you want to be perceived as a stalker, profiler or ignorant hick bigot.

wordgenie8 8 years, 8 months ago

I cheer for this landmark civil rights law victory, and hope the homeless and those perceived as having physical limitations will soon be covered by similiar laws.

wordgenie8 8 years, 8 months ago

Just read the small-print of this article. So o.k. you white supremacist, ableist, homophobic bigots of Lawrence, you are now on notice. It's against the law to interfere in public with those you perceive as having physical limitations or having a different gender identity than you. So all you frighteningly incompetent, self-flattering, wannabe "helper" types, remember appreciation is in the eye of the beholder, and it is illegal and disrespectful to impose your biases in this regard on strangers.

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