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Question Regarding Hate Crimes

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Jeremiah Dyke Posted: Sat, Sep 29 2012 9:58 AM

 I’ve argued elsewhere that I’m not a fan of “intent” playing any role in punishment for a crime (here), aside from this, let me pose a question. A hate crime is defined as a ‘bias-motivated crime’ in which the target of the crime is selected based on some particular factor: race, religion, etc.

However, couldn’t all crime be defined as a ‘hate crime’, even accidents? For example, most of us don’t particularly aim for accidents while driving, yet, if we must get into an accident I can think of a lot of biases for the outcome. For example, if someone must die in the accident, I would hope it was …(fill in the blank). The bias is still there.     

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eliotn replied on Sat, Sep 29 2012 10:24 AM

Its probably true that most, if not all crime is biased, however, hate crime refers to acts that are caused by a particular subset of bias.  The fact that people refer to them as bias-motivated crimes can be confusing, as isn't all crime motivated by bias?  Its used to denote crimes where people are targeted because of a particular association to a certain social group, such as race or religion.

Anyways, I don't fully disagree with the idea that punishment should not be based off of intent.  After all, if people raise the cost of law for someone, because that person's bad intentions make them more likely to be "dangerous" in the future, is that not a punishment based on percieved intent?

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gotlucky replied on Sat, Sep 29 2012 10:36 AM

In the case of a hate crime, the crime was motivated by hate. In the case of accidents, if the person who caused the accident didn't do it on purpose (well it is an accident), then it was not motivated by hate. So, right there we see that not all crimes are motivated by hate. Also, some crimes are not motivated by hatred for the victim. Some are motivated by envy or greed.

Maybe more crimes are motivated by hate than what the current law says, but not all crimes are motivated by hate.

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Bert replied on Sat, Sep 29 2012 12:26 PM

The difference with the hate crime is the intent is not based on the acting criminal's own ends, as there would be, for example, someone killing someone over money owed or to steal something, where the crime's motive simply can be summed up as "race" or "religion", but it may be hard to distinguish someone just shooting someone with no motive, just to shoot someone, or they just snapped, or someone beating someone else out of anger.

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