Punishing Hate Crimes: My Opinion

Essay by redlilyCollege, UndergraduateA+, August 2004

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Assignment: Write your opinion about hate crimes legislation. This is not supposed to be a research paper but only your thoughts on the topic.


Should Hate Crimes be punished harder than non bias-based assaults?

Hate crimes vary from other assaults, and therefore should be punished harder then a regular assault. There are a variety of ways to perform hate crimes; they are, for example, acts of violence, harassment, threats, and property damage. However, to be considered a hate crime, the crime has to be motivated by bias (bigotry) and prejudice against the perceived or actual race, religion, national origin, disability, gender, or sexual orientation of another group or person. Because of that, these crimes are not only crimes against the victim or victims of such crime, but also against the group the attacker has a bias against. Therefore, attackers are victimizing certain groups of society rather than only the attacked victim or victims, and send a message of hate to that entire group.

Additionally, the attackers also make their own group of society look bad. For example, when PFC Barry Winchell was murdered by other soldiers, who thought he was gay because he was in love with a male-to-female-transgender woman (he was not in fact gay, he fell in love with a person whom he assumed was female), the assailants committing the hate crime did not only make themselves look bad, but they also made the military and other soldiers look bad. Additionally, the attack sent a negative message to gay men in the military (and transsexuals everywhere) that they are unwanted and should be dead rather than alive, thereby victimizing that entire group.

Hate crimes should be treated differently and punished harder because they can also cause further harm. For example, the group that was attacked through the...