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  • Senate Approves Broadened Hate-Crime Measure

    Senate Approves Broadened Hate-Crime Measure

    By DAVID STOUT
    Published: October 22, 2009

    WASHINGTON — The Senate voted Thursday to extend new federal protections to people who are victims of violent crime because of their sex or sexual orientation, bringing the measure close to reality after years of fierce debate.

    The 68-to-29 vote sends the legislation to President Obama, who has said he supports it.

    The measure, attached to an essential military-spending bill, broadens the definition of federal hate crimes to include those committed because of a victim’s gender or gender identity, or sexual orientation. It gives victims the same federal safeguards already afforded to people who are victims of violent crimes because of their race, color, religion or national origin.

    “Hate crimes instill fear in those who have no connection to the victim other than a shared characteristic such as race or sexual orientation,” Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said afterward. “For nearly 150 years, we have responded as a nation to deter and to punish violent denials of civil rights by enacting federal laws to protect the civil rights of all of our citizens.”

    Mr. Leahy sponsored the hate-crimes amendment to the military bill and called its passage a worthy tribute to the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, who first introduced hate-crimes legislation in the Senate more than a decade ago.

    Opponents argued to no avail that the new measure was unnecessary in view of existing laws and might interfere with local law enforcement agencies. Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina, said he agreed that hate crimes were terrible. “That’s why they are already illegal,” Mr. DeMint said, asserting that the new law was a dangerous, even “Orwellian” step toward “thought crime.”

    Ten Republicans voted for the hate-crimes measure. The only Democrat to oppose it was Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, who said he could not vote for the current bill “because it does nothing to bring our open-ended and disproportionate military commitment in Afghanistan to an end and/or to ensure that our troops are safely and expeditiously redeployed from Iraq.” The Senate action came two weeks after the House approved the measure, 281 to 146, and would give the federal government the authority to prosecute violent, antigay crimes when local authorities failed to.

    The measure would also allocate $5 million a year to the Justice Department to assist local communities in investigating hate crimes, and it would allow the agency to assist in investigations and prosecutions if local agencies requested help.

    Federal protections for people who are victims of violent crime because of their sexual orientation have been sought for more than a decade, at least since the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming college student.
    Is there really a violent crime that doesn't involve some form of hate? I have a problem with this bill because it gives special rights or protection to only certain groups in society. Are the normal state laws not enough to protect everyone if properly enforced?

    Its kind of like the Federal statutes for conspiracy, mostly involving drugs. The Feds don't actually need any evidence except someone to say you were dealing drugs to prosecute you for trafficking. Then the burden of proof falls onto the defendant to prove they were not, usually ending in a plea agreement because victory in Federal court is very hard to come by. The same could be said of a defendant in a Federal hate crime case, a witness could say the defendant yelled out a racial slur while in the commision of a crime. Now the defendant must prove that the crime was not racially motivated. Once again very hard to fight in Federal court as the prosecution has all the resources of the Federal goverment behind them.

    As you probably know, I am a huge supporter of civil rights and liberties. But I don't believe in or like this type of Federal legislation that trumps, or adds to the state law already in place. A crime is a crime, hate motivated or not, and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    Excerpts from articles/blogs with alternative views on the issue
    Freedom to hate

    By the same token, I think crimes motivated by hatred of the victim's sexual orientation should be treated no differently than crimes motivated by rage or anything else. I don't want to hold the accused guilty of having an opinion, in addition to the crime committed, because even a reprehensible criminal deserves a free speech right to express an opinion. We have the right to hate, but not to commit crimes.

    A crime is a crime, regardless of the victim's race, color, religion, national origin or sexual orientation. A murdered white heterosexual male is no less dead than an Hispanic, gay Christian. Suppose three murders occur: one for money, another out of jealousy, and a third because the victim is a black, gay Wiccan. If the first two murderers are sentenced to 20 years in prison and the third is sentenced to 30 years, would the families of the victims in the first two cases feel they had received equal justice under the law?
    I think criminal penalties should be based more on deterrence than on retribution. My opposition to the death penalty is partly because capital punishment does not appear to be a deterrent. I also doubt that some bigot would be dissuaded because a few additional hate-crime years might be tacked on to an already-long sentence.
    Hate Crimes Law Sucks

    First, you cannot end hate through legislation.

    Second, government has no business even trying to get people to stop hating. That's none of its business. Literally. Indeed, its duty is to protect our right to hate, and our faculties that lead us to whatever opinions we might have, including hate.

    Third, this law is unconstitutional by the Tenth Amendment. I find it astonishing that anyone thinks this needs to be a federal law, which is utterly insulting to the state legislatures, which are, in fact, perfectly capable of deciding for themselves whether this should be a crime.

    Fourth, this law also runs afoul of the Fifth Amendment right to due process. In our judicial system, motive and intent are two different things, and motive is not a crime. This law makes it a crime. That is why people, correctly, compare it to Thought Police. Some say, but this is different, because the result of the crime is to intimidate a whole class of people; but if that is the case, then you need to show that the person had intent to produce that result ... else you really are just punishing motive, which we don't do. Laws like this are really an end run around the prosecution's burden of proof.

    I would be perfectly willing to support a (state) law that said someone intending to, through a violent act, terrorize or intimidate a group of people, is committing a felony. But that would require evidence, which -- despite being constitutionally required -- is an unattractive prospect to many. So instead, they just tell us that some for assaulting people are worse than others, and get around that pesky "evidence" thing. And we're supposed to just nod in approval, because if you don't, well, you are a dirty hatemonger.
    |TG-X| mp40x



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  • #2
    Re: Senate Approves Broadened Hate-Crime Measure

    “Hate crimes instill fear in those who have no connection to the victim other than a shared characteristic such as race or sexual orientation"

    That's as good an explanation as any. Of the many possible motivations for violent crime - desparation, mental or social factors, drugs or gang activity - hate crimes are in a class by themselves. They absolutely deserve to be treated differently, as they tend to be more damaging than the act itself.

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    • #3
      Re: Senate Approves Broadened Hate-Crime Measure

      WASHINGTON — The Senate voted Thursday to extend new federal protections to people who are victims of violent crime because of their sex or sexual orientation, bringing the measure close to reality after years of fierce debate.
      Unintentionally funny :)

      'Hate crimes' apply to specific details in a crime, just like the difference between pre-meditation and crimes of passion. There's always hate in crimes but these laws are specific to crimes that are an example to a certain group of people that they should be afraid of further violence.

      Killing a black guy for offending you is murder. Lynching him and leaving him to be found sends a message and is therefore a hate crime because of the symbology.

      I would be perfectly willing to support a (state) law that said someone intending to, through a violent act, terrorize or intimidate a group of people, is committing a felony. But that would require evidence, which -- despite being constitutionally required -- is an unattractive prospect to many. So instead, they just tell us that some for assaulting people are worse than others, and get around that pesky "evidence" thing. And we're supposed to just nod in approval, because if you don't, well, you are a dirty hatemonger.
      This guy is misinformed.

      People don't get convicted of hate crimes very often, and they are the same thing as additional time for specific details of the crime like pre-meditation, whether it was with a gun or knife, etc. I used to be against them until I realized they are simply additional punishment for specific details and are in addition to the normal charges. So in the case above the jury would have two charges, murder and hate crime. They can still find the lynching perpetrator guilty of murder without it being a hate crime.

      The only thing I find strange here is that sexual orientation is not a protected federal class for discrimination so I'm not sure why they get the hate crime without the discrimination protection too.

      California 2005:
      Page 4 chart: about 200,000 violent crimes
      http://ag.ca.gov/cjsc/publications/c...d05/crimes.pdf

      Page 10 total hate crimes: 1,096 violent hate crimes
      http://www.ag.ca.gov/cjsc/publicatio.../preface05.pdf

      Most of the hate crimes were intimidation or assault. Only a single hate crime murder or rape was reported. That means 0.548 % of reported violent crimes qualify as being hate crimes in California. The proportion of non-violent crime to non-violent hate crime is even lower as there are more non-violent crimes in total and less than 1000 non-violent hate crimes. And California is one of the most progressive states in regards to addressing discrimination legally (they prohibit sexual orientation discrimination through state law on top of the Federal one).

      So basically, a Federal law about hate crimes is not going to apply to very many cases either and really is just about those crimes that are intended to send a 'message' to others. Not just because the perp was a different race, gender, etc from the victim.
      Last edited by snooggums; 10-23-2009, 10:09 AM.
      |TG-6th|Snooggums

      Just because everyone does something does not mean that it is right to do.

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      • #4
        Re: Senate Approves Broadened Hate-Crime Measure

        Originally posted by AMosely View Post
        They absolutely deserve to be treated differently, as they tend to be more damaging than the act itself.
        How can the hate crime be more damaging than the act, or crime (murder, rape, assault) itself?

        The murder of Mathew Sheppard, "a gay Wyoming college student", in 1998 has been used as a rally cry for this legislation. as it is called The Matthew Shepard Act. But as 20/20 revealed some years later in 2004, the details of the murder were not what the media at the time had claimed. New Details Emerge in Matthew Shepard Murder
        The story garnered national attention when the attack was characterized as a hate crime. But Shepard's killers, in their first interview since their convictions, tell "20/20's" Elizabeth Vargas that money and drugs motivated their actions that night, not hatred of gays.
        The Night of the Crime
        McKinney told Vargas he set out the night of Oct. 6, 1998, to rob a drug dealer of $10,000 worth of methamphetamine. But after several attempts, McKinney was not able to carry out his plan.

        Henderson said he thought if he could keep McKinney drinking, he'd forget the robbery plan.

        But according to McKinney, when he encountered Shepard at the Fireside Lounge, he saw an easy mark.

        McKinney told "20/20" Shepard was well-dressed and assumed he had a lot of cash.

        Shepard was sitting at the bar, McKinney recalls. "He said he was too drunk to go home. And then he asked me if I'd give him a ride. So I thought, yeah, sure, what the hell," according to McKinney.

        All three got in the front seat of McKinney's pickup, and Henderson took the wheel. McKinney told police that at some point Shepard reached over and grabbed his leg. In response, McKinney said, he hit him with his pistol. "I was getting ready to pull it on him anyway," he said.

        McKinney says he asked for, and got, Shepard's wallet, which had only $30 in it. But even though Shepard handed over his money, McKinney continued beating him.

        When pressed by Vargas as to why he continued beating Shepard after he had already taken his wallet, McKinney said, "Sometimes when you have that kind of rage going through you, there's no stopping it. I've attacked my best friends coming off of meth binges."

        McKinney says he directed Henderson to drive the truck to a secluded spot on the outskirts of Laramie so they could leave Shepard and have time to get away. They stopped at a wooden buck fence and took Shepard from the truck.

        On McKinney's instructions, Henderson got a rope from the truck and tied Shepard to a fence post. Henderson claims at some point he tried, but failed, to stop McKinney from beating Shepard further.

        In a statement to the court, Henderson said McKinney struck him across the face with the gun when he tried to stop the continued beating of Shepard.

        Henderson retreated to the truck, leaving McKinney alone with Shepard at the fence. McKinney tells "20/20" he fears these last blows he dealt Shepard at the fence were the fatal blows.
        So apparently the murder was nothing more than a robbery. The defendants were charged and convicted of this horrible crime and "both men are serving double life sentences in prison" for "murder and kidnapping". Normal state law seemed to be sufficient to punish these two losers. But special interest groups used Matthew Shepard's terrible murder to promote Federal legislation to provide them with special protection under the guise that he was killed because he was gay. As if the state laws that are meant to protect us all are just not enough.
        |TG-X| mp40x



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        • #5
          Re: Senate Approves Broadened Hate-Crime Measure

          All three got in the front seat of McKinney's pickup, and Henderson took the wheel. McKinney told police that at some point Shepard reached over and grabbed his leg. In response, McKinney said, he hit him with his pistol. "I was getting ready to pull it on him anyway," he said.

          McKinney says he asked for, and got, Shepard's wallet, which had only $30 in it. But even though Shepard handed over his money, McKinney continued beating him.

          When pressed by Vargas as to why he continued beating Shepard after he had already taken his wallet, McKinney said, "Sometimes when you have that kind of rage going through you, there's no stopping it. I've attacked my best friends coming off of meth binges."
          The violence of the attack was initiated when an unwanted advance occurred, then they tied him to a fencepost to die of exposure.

          This was not a regular robbery, it really was a hate crime, and the jury was able to make the distinction based on the evidence at trial and not because of the media. The perpetrators blaming it on drugs is obviously a cop out.

          By leaving him to die of exposure they left a message, plus from the Wikipedia page on Shepard:

          The prosecutor in the case charged that McKinney and Henderson pretended to be gay in order to gain Shepard's trust to rob him.[10] During the trial, Chastity Pasley and Kristen Price (the respective girlfriends of McKinney and Henderson at the time of the event) testified that Henderson and McKinney both plotted beforehand to rob a gay man. McKinney and Henderson then went to the Fireside Lounge and selected Shepard as their target. McKinney alleged that Shepard asked them for a ride home. After befriending him, they took him to a remote area of Laramie where they robbed him, beat him severely, and tied him to a fence with a rope from McKinney's truck while Shepard begged for his life. Media reports often contained the graphic account of the pistol whipping and his smashed skull. It was reported that Shepard was beaten so brutally that his face was covered in blood, except where it had been partially washed clean by his tears.[11][12] Both girlfriends also testified that neither McKinney nor Henderson was under the influence of drugs at the time.[13][14]
          With citations: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_Shepard

          It is worse than the actual beating because it does send a message.
          |TG-6th|Snooggums

          Just because everyone does something does not mean that it is right to do.

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          • #6
            Re: Senate Approves Broadened Hate-Crime Measure

            We already have and accept 1st degree murder, 2nd degree murder manslaughter etc.

            We have always recognized that circumstances, motive, planning etc. as well as the effect created determine the crime and how we will prosecute it. This is just expanding it.

            Call it 1st Degree Squared murder.
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            • #7
              Re: Senate Approves Broadened Hate-Crime Measure

              Originally posted by snooggums View Post
              This was not a regular robbery, it really was a hate crime, and the jury was able to make the distinction based on the evidence at trial and not because of the media.
              I know. I spent an hour reading everything I could find about the case before I made that post, including that wiki page you posted. And I still say it was just a robbery by a couple of thugs. And many people tried and succeeded in promoting it as this huge problem in America. I don't feel the need for such Federal legislation to protect certain groups when we are all protected by state laws, and other Federal laws for that matter. There is just no need to target certain groups for enhanced prosecution when they are the victims of crimes. Where would the justice be if on one hand a heterosexual male was the victim of an attack, and his attacker recieved 10 years? And on the other hand a homosexual male was attacked, with the same circumstances of the other case, and his attacker recieved 20 years? Just doesn't make any sense to me.
              |TG-X| mp40x



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              • #8
                Re: Senate Approves Broadened Hate-Crime Measure

                Originally posted by mp40x View Post
                I know. I spent an hour reading everything I could find about the case before I made that post, including that wiki page you posted. And I still say it was just a robbery by a couple of thugs. And many people tried and succeeded in promoting it as this huge problem in America. I don't feel the need for such Federal legislation to protect certain groups when we are all protected by state laws, and other Federal laws for that matter. There is just no need to target certain groups for enhanced prosecution when they are the victims of crimes. Where would the justice be if on one hand a heterosexual male was the victim of an attack, and his attacker recieved 10 years? And on the other hand a homosexual male was attacked, with the same circumstances of the other case, and his attacker recieved 20 years? Just doesn't make any sense to me.
                Did they beat their other victims into a coma and leave them tied to a post? If not, it was not a regular robbery.

                As I noted above, the actual charges of hate crimes are minuscule in relation to the total number of charges, therefore just because the victim is gay does not mean it will be a hate crime.
                |TG-6th|Snooggums

                Just because everyone does something does not mean that it is right to do.

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