Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Hate Your Neighbour

hate intense hostility or dislike; loathing

hate crime a crime that is committed against somebody because the perpetrator disapproves of their race, sexuality, religion, etc. It usually takes the form of physical violence, verbal abuse or threats, or damage to property, etc.

Scotland Yard: crimes motivated by religious hatred have jumped by nearly 600% in London since 7th July.

Statistics compiled by Human Rights First for the OSCE, published 31 May 2005:

Only 3 OSCE member countries provided thorough and reliable data on hate crimes as requested. That is 3 out of 55. They were the US, Canada and the UK.

Only 19 of the 55 countries have laws in force to punish crimes motivated by racism.

Only 5 of the 19 countries have enacted legislation to punish crimes motivated by sexual orientation and disability bias – Belgium, Canada, France, Spain, UK, as well as 29 states of the US and the District of Columbia.

Only 4 countries plus 26 states and DC have laws that punish hate crimes based on gender (Belgium, Canada, France, Spain).

In the United Kingdom, anti-Jewish violent personal assaults doubled in 2004 over the previous year.

In France, anti-Jewish violent offences were up 63% from 2003 to 2004. In 2002 there were 41 violent hate crimes against gay men, and in 2003 there were 86. In 2003 there were 232 attacks classified as acts of “racism and xenophobia”, victims mostly North African, and in 2004 there were 595.

In the United States, there were 28 hate crimes against Muslims in 2000, and 481 in 2001.

If you would like to know about murders, violent attacks, cemeteries being desecrated, mosques being burned, children being beaten up, a gay man being set on fire and more, have a look at the report:

http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/discrimination/pdf/everyday-fears-053105.pdf

9 comments:

Devastatin' Dave said...

What makes the difference what the motivation is? A crime is a crime is a crime. How many crimes are committed out of love and friendship? If a black kills a black or a white kills a white, why should that be any different than a white killing a black out of some perceived "hate" by the court system?

Will the punishment for the "hate" murder be more severe than the "non-hate" murder? If so, it is an injustice. Basically, what this is leading to is punishing people for "thought crimes." Hate is a valid emotion; it's how you act or don't act upon it that makes it a potential crime.

Max said...

DD, not necessarily. Crimes that are motivated by hate are crimes that would not happen without the hate. The hate is more than the motivation, it is an integral part of the cause.

Max said...

This just in:

A leading Muslim figure has suggested Islamic women stop wearing head scarves, amid a rise in hate crimes.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4742869.stm

Devastatin' Dave said...

The emotion of hate is NOT the crime. The CRIME is the crime. There are people I hate, like Bruce Springsteen, whom I don't commit a crime against. It's the action not the thought that is punishable.

Devastatin' Dave said...

If someone steals food due to hunger or poverty, should it be a "poor" theft?

Max said...

DD, in actual criminal law, both the mind and the act are integral parts of the crime: mens rea and actus reus.

On a separate note, I'll give you an example: Asshole's shop has been vandalised with swastikas because he is Jewish. If Asshole had not been Jewish, his shop would not have been a target of the vandals. Hate crime.

I do understand what you are saying; please try to understand what I am saying.

Devastatin' Dave said...

MM,

I'm catching your drift. But,what if Asshole got his shop vandalised because some street toughs didn't like the fact that he wore pink, stilleto heels? Should they get a different punishment than the ones that vandalised his store because he's Jewish? If so, then that is unjust and it's the fabled slippery slope. If not, then the idea of hate crimes is more of a political statement than a legal one. I understand that criminal intent is part of criminal law, but once criminal intent has been established, does it matter what that intent was? I would say no.

Max said...

DD, I totally understand what you are saying. We have got into a discussion about 2 different things. My point is that hate crimes are on the rise and not enough is being done about it. If I am correct, your point is that perpetrators of hate crimes should be treated no differently than those of similar crimes (acts) that are not motivated by "hate". Fine. Like I said, I understand you, and I am not necessarily prepared to argue that point. However I still stand behind my point.

And how did you know about Asshole's pink stiletto heels??!!

Anonymous A-Hole said...

I just unstrapped my pink stiletto heels, and now I can participate in the discussion.

I think the distinction is necessary because, for example, some crimes are crimes that shouldn't wreck a young person's life and others aren't. If I get beat up by some 19 year old kid, while at the movies, the likliehood is that a 19 year old made a terrible decision that he likely regretted by the morning (or sooner).

If, however, I get beat up by a 19 year old kid because he didn't like the religious symbol around my neck, then we're talking about a different animal entirely. He has no regrets and, to him, I got what I deserved. We're talking about a socio-path, in my mind. In the first example, I worry about the shiner on my face and the soreness of the next day, and then I get over it. In the second I worry about the same, and then I also consider moving from town because it's obvious that the wrong people hate me.

So, yes, intent does play a major role. The law does, and needs to, distinguish between one person and another, one crime and another.

Another example would be robbing a bank. If I go into a bank, slip a threatening note to the teller, and then take the money and run, I'm obviously a bank robber.

But, if I go into the bank waving a gun and threatening everyone in the bank (but not actually doing bodily harm to anyone) before taking the money and running, I've committed a far different crime. I'm now an armed bank-robber.

In fact, I've committed a "gun crime" and will be prosecuted on more serious charges and sentenced more heavily because of it.

I may have taken an identical amount of cash, I may have even used the same words with the people with whom I interacted. But, ultimately, not having the gun, made all the difference in not only how I was perceived inside the bank, but with everyone who then read about it in the paper. And, undoubtedly, with a gun, I scarred a few people in that bank for life.

Even your average Jane Doe, simply from newspaper accounts, would distinguish between the gun and non-gun crimes.

And, rightfully, she should.

Of course, proving that someone used hate in a crime is much different than proving that they used a gun, so it is admittedly a leap to compare them, but I think you get my point.

Intent (and not only true intent, but perceived intent in this example; the hypothetical gun wasn't used) becomes the difference between short and long prison sentences and determines ones treatment within the criminal justice system.

The point of the hypothetical gun was to intimidate people beyond what they would normally be.

Similarly, if I'm attacked on the street randomly, we've got a classic case of assault. Ideally, I take my beating and move on with life. However, if I'm being beaten with hate as the motive (the weapon, if you will) then how do I sleep from then on knowing that my wife or son is equally at risk from the same person (or more appropriately group) down the road? The hate, in effect, changes the dynamic of the crime. And the person that uses it should receive a stiffer sentencing.

I don't know if hate crimes are necessarily to place an emphasis on hate (though it helps). I believe that the distinction allows investigators and prosecutors the latitude necessary to treat each crime individually. If we went and lumped armed and un-armed robberies together, then there would be no way to distinguish between intent. In turn, we'd send away a good percentage of young people who might otherwise be rehabilitated (yes, idealisitic, I realize).

Using DD's argument, we may as well not even distinguish between first and second degree murder or manslaugther. After all, at the end of all of them lies a dead person.

Justice requires the consideration of mitigation.