Sunday, December 26, 2010

Problems With Federal Hate Crime Legislation

Attorney General Eric Holder: Wrong Again!

As a Jew I am naturally appalled by acts of racism and hatred, but for a multitude of reasons I do not support federal hate crime laws. With an initial glance they appear to be quite favorable, but a serious analysis reveal that they pose problems, both in theory and in practice. They demonstrate the problematic race-ism that underlines the modern progressive vision. This became apparent during a senate hearing in which Attorney General Eric Holder was questioned about new hate crime legislation proposed by the Obama Administration.

The first problem with hate crime laws is that they in-effect create special classes of victims and perpetrators. If an individual is (G-d forbid) assaulted for their identity, is their suffering any less than than an individual who is assaulted in a standard robbery? And even more troubling is that the progressive narrative of hate crimes would most likely exclude victims who are not members of "protected classes." For example, the brutal rape, robbery, torture, murder and mutilation of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom by several African-Americans was not prosecuted as a hate crime. And local and federal officials did not consider it a hate crime when a white family in Akron Ohio was assaulted by a group of African-Americans shouting "this is a black world." We can be certain that if the victims of the said assaults were members of a protected class, these incidents would have been prosecuted and widely publicized by the media as hate crimes. When Attorney General Eric Holder was questioned by Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) if a fatal assault on a soldier (that transpired in the United States) by a Muslim constituted a hate crime, Mr. Holder responded in the negative. During the course of that hearing, Mr. Holder made it clear that the hate crime legislation in question only applied to "historically oppressed minorities."

The second problem is that hate crime legislation takes away focus from the most pressing crime problems that "protected classes" and other communities face. In 2008 only 0.0430% of murders and manslaughter (7 out of 16,272) and 0.12% of assaults (1,025 out of 834,885) were classified as hate crimes. So, as detestable as hate crimes are, relative to other crimes they hardly constitute an epidemic. African-Americans are nearly 400% more likely to be victims of murder, but with 93% of their assailants being of the same race, "hate crimes" hardly appears to be the most pressing problem that they face.

Some essential questions that we must ask are: should hate crimes be a federal matter, are they not being addressed on a state level?" To start off, I see no evidence that they fall within the constitutional jurisdiction of the federal government. And 45 states and the District of Columbia already possess the said legislation. Then perhaps these states are failing to enforce the hate crime laws that are already on the books? When asked by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) if there is evidence that justice was not being served on a state and local level regarding bias motivated crimes, he deflected the question. And when Senator Coburn (R-Oklahoma) asked "do we have statistics that say that the states are failing?" and "which states are regularly or systematically failing to enforce their laws punishing crimes of bias?," he was unable to answer. So, as odious as hate crimes are, the Obama Administration's current efforts constitutes an undue interference of the federal government in state and local affairs.

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