|(11) "The Trouble with Hate Crime Laws" - 10/19/99 Richard Cohen in the Washington Post|
Trouble with Hate-Crime Laws (10/19/99)
[Washington Post Opinion by columnist Richard Cohen]
"... [H]ate crime legislation is one of those areas in which conservatives are liberal and liberals are just plain out of their minds. In an effort to send a "We Care" statement to gays, blacks and other minorities, liberals are plunging into the sort of mind reading that they so abhor in other areas. Sure, some conservatives oppose these laws because they would apply to gays, but they are right in insisting that penalizing motive is a dangerous precedent -- an awesome power to give the government.
We are all affected by crime. It's hard to argue that a murder in the park has less effect on the people who use it than a hate crime committed in another part of the city has on, say, blacks or Jews. A couple of burglaries in my neighborhood have more impact on me than does the desecration of a synagogue across town. Both have their effect, and while the latter is certainly ugly and reprehensible, I can't see why it is a worse crime than the other. Both are covered by relevant state or federal laws. If these laws need to be strengthened, then strengthen them. But don't value the life or limb of some people more than others.
"It would be one thing if there was any evidence that hate crime laws actually
reduced hate crimes. No such proof exists." (Washington Post 10/19/99
page A19 by Richard Cohen)
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