Originally Posted by JenC511
Hate crime legislation punishes motive. I believe we should be punishing the act. Take murder, for example. A racist shoots a couple of kids making out in a car. A serial killer shoots a couple of kids making out in a car. A gang member shoots a couple of kids making out in a car. To me, those are all the same crime.
So, the racist did it because the kids are some other race. The serial killer did it because he gets some sort of thrill out of it. The gang member did it because he didn't like the make/model of the car.
How do you prove the racist did it because the kids were another race? Maybe he also didn't like the make/model of their car? Maybe he's also a serial killer, and that part of him was outdoing the racist part that night.
It just smacks of "thought crime", and it rubs me the wrong way.
Thanks for that - that's a very interesting perspective.
I think the legislation has come into effect, though, because of the scope of the criminal acts that have occurred throughout history because of no other reason than hate. The Holocaust being the first and most obvious example.
People absolutely need to be punished for the crimes they commit - and you're right, the outcome is the same regardless of the motive. But I think we disagree on the importance of motive.
This is a vitally important part of criminal proceedings - and if it wasn't, we wouldn't have laws that protect women who murder their husbands after years of systematic abuse, we wouldn't have laws regarding self-defence, we wouldn't have many, many laws that take motive into account.
We are a thinking, feeling, sentient species, we have reasons for the things we do, and we are punished for the actions we carry out as a result of these reasons. If we take away consideration of motive when punishing crimes, the sentence would be the same for the woman who murdered her abusive husband, to the man who shoots an intruder in his house in self defence, to a teenager who shoots a couple of lovers in a car simply because they are black. Should they all get the same sentences? No, of course not. The circumstances of their crimes are utterly different.
So in that sense, not all crimes are the same - even if the result of the crime is. People should be more harshly punished for hate crimes, because there is no good motivation at all - no good reason whatsoever - to commit these crimes, and that makes the people who do this more dangerous than someone who has shot someone else out of self defence. It's the same with people who kill for a thrill, or because they can't control their temper, or their homicidal urges. These people are significantly more dangerous to society for no other reason than their motivation, and the fact that their motivation is strong enough for them to act on it.
Motive is incredibly important in establishing pattern. A woman who murders her abusive husband is almost certain to never, ever murder again. A teenager who shoots someone else simply because of the colour of their skin, is highly likely to do it again. So, therefore, this absolutely needs to be taken into consideration when charges for crimes are laid.
Sentencing and the law as we know it today emerged almost entirely from argument and establishment of motive. It is one of the single most important factors in any criminal investigation. It can't be dismissed as unimportant or irrelevant.