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Don't legislate against hate crimes

By Martin Short
Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 25, 1999
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To the editor,

In his article "Harder Justice for Hate," René Alegria has presented an argument chock full of oversights.

There are many flaws to his thinking, and the thinking of those who agree with him.╩Let me just state from the start that I am not advocating hate crimes; I just don't think they should be punished more harshly than other, similar crimes. ╩

The most basic mistake made by Alegria is assuming that we can know, in exact detail, a person's motivation for a crime. This simply is not possible unless the perpetrator explicitly tells us what it was.╩Just because a redneck kills a homosexual does not mean that he did it because he hates gays.╩There is no way to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that discriminatory hatred was his motivation, thus making the laws pointless. ╩

Alegria also claims that since hate crimes are more damaging to society than crimes based upon other factors, hate crimes should be more harshly punished.╩However, this is simply not the case.╩The reason people are punished for their crimes (at least theoretically) is not as retribution for the damage they did to society in committing the crime, but to prevent them from committing crimes again.╩According to this reasoning, someone who commits a hate crime should get equal punishment as someone who commits a non-hate crime, because they both have equal chance of committing crime again.╩In fact, one could argue, using Alegria's reasoning, that hate crimes should be punished less severely because they only pose a threat to certain sections of society, while non-hate crimes threaten everyone in society.╩However, we all know that this argument of Alegria's is pure rubbish and that both crimes should be treated equally. ╩

The whole hate crime idea is simply an attempt by "politically correct" groups to regulate the thoughts and feelings of others.╩They want to make it illegal for people to have prejudices and biases of any sort, but since they can't do that (at least not yet, anyway; but I have visions of 1984 dancing in my head), they will take what they can get.╩ The fact is that there really is no difference between a "hate crime" and a non-hate crime.╩All crimes are hate related in some way; after all, who murders someone because they love them? ╩

Martin Short
Engineering physics junior