and author Wendy Kaminer has a very helpful piece in the Wall Street Journal exposing
the dangers and misconceptions relating to hate crimes legislation now in
Congress. She also makes the case that
civil libertarians wary of government intrusion into personal rights should
support their social conservative cohorts in opposing hate crimes.
addresses the charge that the current hate crimes bill does not deal with
speech but only violent crime. She
explains this view but then concludes:
Still, distinguishing hateful bias crimes from other
hateful acts of violence punishes ideas and expression, no matter how
scrupulously the legislation is crafted. When someone convicted of assaulting
one woman is subject to an enhanced prison sentence or a more vigorous
prosecution because his assault was motivated by a hateful belief in the
inherent inferiority of all women, then he is being punished for his thoughts
as well as his conduct.
crimes should really be called “thought crimes” or “bias crimes” as noted here:
…without directly criminalizing speech, the proposed
Matthew Shepard Act (like other hate-crime laws) does effectively and
intentionally criminalize bias, when bias is shown to bear a direct
relationship to a violent crime.
crimes bill could also threaten the important constitutional principle
prohibiting “double jeopardy;” being prosecuted twice for the same crime:
But freedom of thought is not the only liberty at stake in
this debate. The Matthew Shepard Act would also subject defendants to double
jeopardy for a single offense. The bill expressly states that defendants
prosecuted in state court may be prosecuted for the same crime in federal
court, if federal officials determine that "the verdict or sentence
obtained pursuant to state charges left demonstrably unvindicated the federal
interest in eradicating bias-motivated violence."
concludes her piece noting that the killers of Matthew Shephard were tried and
convicted to the full extent of the law.
Matthew Shepard's killers were convicted of homicide and
kidnapping by the state of Wyoming
and are serving consecutive life sentences. His torture and murder remain awful
to contemplate, but civil libertarians ought not be squeamish about questioning
the consequences of the law that would bear his name.
a hate crimes law have punished them any more?
on hate crimes click
here or here.