Hate crime legislation
The Senate Criminal Justice Committee recently
cleared the James Byrd Junior Act, a bill strengthening punishments for
crimes "motivated by hate or prejudice," by a 5-1 vote.
The bill is expected to go to the floor
of the Texas Senate in March.
Byrd was brutally dragged to death by three
white men in Jasper back in 1998.
What those men did was horrific. They should
be punished to the fullest extent our law allows.
A message should be sent to all that if
they commit murder for the sake of their beliefs harsh punishment will
Hate crimes should be punished. But at
what point should we start separating the crime from the motivation?
Hate crime legislation is, by its very
nature, a violation of the First Amendment.
When a judge or jury punishes a man for
the crime he committed, that is justice. But when a judge or jury punishes
the man again because he holds an unpopular belief, that is discrimination.
Perhaps hate criminals have it coming.
If there is anyone in this state who deserves the death penalty, it's those
But those men should be punished as criminals,
In this society, if a jealous adulterer
murders a woman's husband, we don't see it as a "love crime." So, why do
we want to punish "hate crimes?"
Anyone watching the news knows the law
is failing to protect certain groups in America.
Anyone who wants to take a stroll down
death row and view the men behind bars will see one particular race dominates
Hate crime legislation is not the answer.
We must punish criminals and give everyone,
regardless of race, color, sexual orientation or gender, a fair and equal
trial. Hate crime legislation will not do that for us.
Deviants of our society must be convinced
that a criminal act will be punished by a system that dispatches justice
with a blind eye.
Anyone wanting to murder someone, regardless
of why they would want to do it, will not get away with it. This is the
message we need to send.
But we don't need to trample the Bill of
Rights to do it. Harmful speech can easily be rectified in civil court.
There is no need to take punishment of speech to the criminal level.
In this country, one ought to be free to
believe whatever he or she wishes. Hate crime legislation is a step backward
for civil rights.
It will fix certain problems in the short
run, but it won't be long until those problems become more complex.