21 July 2009

A Crime is a Crime... Right?

What the hell is the Matthew Shepard Act? Maybe I'm not properly informed but why do gay people want this? How does this benefit our community? Justice is suppose to be blind. When it comes to the court room, it shouldn't make a difference if you're black or white, gay or straight, religious or atheist, physically fit or physically impaired. I don't think the killing or beating of a minority is any more or less despicable than the killing or beating of a non-minority. A homophobic Hungarian tourist who beats a gay geezer to death with a banjo shouldn't have a more severe punishment than a crazy Texan bitch who murders her husband by repeatedly running him over with a car. Regardless of the motivation, no matter which way you look at it, murder is murder. All violent acts are wrong and the level of punishments should match the seriousness of the crimes and the circumstances in which they took place NOT the background/ethnicity/gender/sexuality of those involved.


  1. Exactly. I think what people fail to consider when they're thinking about hate crimes is that, by adding a penalty, they are making someone's thoughts a crime. Let's say murder equals twenty years, and hate-crime murder equals twenty-five years. Since the only difference is the hate-based motive--all other elements of the offense being the same--you're effectively sentencing someone to five years in jail for hating somebody.

    The problem, of course, is that people are not only free to be racist/sexist/homophobic douchebags, but that their right to be racist/sexist/homophobic douchebags is protected by the Constitution.

    There's nothing wrong, of course, with considering motive as part of the extenuating or mitigating circumstances at sentencing, but criminalizing a particular motive--which is exactly what hate crimes legislation does--criminalizes opinions we don't like and adds additional penalties for acting on them.

  2. Motivation has always played a part in defining crime and its punishment. A spontaneous crime of passion is not the same as a premeditated act. Stealing food to eat is not the same as stealing car stereos for drug money. Surely raping a child is not the same as raping an adult?
    Society has overwhelmingly agreed that hate motivated crimes are slightly more heinous than regular old crime. While it is every man's right to have hateful bigoted beliefs, it is not their right to inflict that hate on others.
    Further, hate crimes instill an additional sense of fear into the victim and the community. Hate crimes are, essentially, a form of social terrorism. Shepard's attackers left his body on a fence post like farmers leave a dead fox outside the chicken coop; as a warning.

  3. The crazy bitch who kills her husband knows him, honestly hating him for who he is. Adding five years or so to the sentencing and making it worse is when someone doesn't know another person and only kills him or hurts him because of his sexuality.

    Its not a sentence that is added just because you hate someone else. It is to add some sort of additional punishment when the motive of their crime is in majority based on sexuality, race, sex, or religion.

    If a straight guy kills a gay guy, but the reason was over money, a car, or something else great. Give the poor bastard 20 years.

    If a straight guy kills a gay guy because he simply knows that he is gay. Giving him 5 additional years is a joke, but we'll take what we can get.

    The law is an interesting one to say the least. It does not just add to straight guys sentence. It could very well go the other way.

    It is true that it is in the constitution to say whatever you want. But there is some limitation to that. When Maddison wrote Article VIII and XIII it says that man has the right to life, therefore say what you want, but do within the confinds of the law.

    Just so you know the law already increases punishment for premeditation, which is what your discribing.

  4. I totally agree with your statement.

  5. Crime is crime, but the problem is that some don't feel crimes against gays is a hate crime when people kill you just because you are gay. Crimes against a racial group is a hate crime if the crime is created because you are black, Hispanic or Asian. Crimes because a person is gay need to be added

  6. I totally agree with you, Mason.

  7. I have to agree with Jay and Anon. The distinction between first and second degree murder and manslaughter is important. Hate crimes are usually a sentence enhancement to make sure that someone doesn't get out of jail after two years of good behavior for beating up a couple of lesbians walking through town just to show them that "that sort of thing ain't okay around here."

    This federal statute is a little bit different. It allows the federal prosecution of a "hate" inspired murder. The reason that hate has quotes around it in the previous sentence is because it's a very narrowly defined and limited version of hate. This isn't what most people think of when they say that the woman who kills her husband "hated" him. This means the hate that someone has for a group of people.

    This means that if someone in a small, very conservative southern town beats a black guy into a coma and the local DA doesn't prosecute him, the feds can step in to make sure that justice is done.

    There is a lot of thought put into hate crimes legislation a law.

    Now, of course Dave is completely wrong. We're not making thoughts a crime. Anyone who says that doesn't understand what hate crimes legislation is meant to do. I've rarely met people to who can rephrase their objection to "making thoughts a crime" in different language.

  8. Just incidentally, I'm pretty sure that She-Hulk supports hate crimes legislation protecting mutants, FYI.

  9. I believe that the purpose of Hate Crimes legislation is to act as deterrents to would-be crimes. If a person knows that the punishment for committing what could now be considered to be a potential hate crime is much more severe, that person will hopefully think twice about going through with it.

    I agree with your point Mason, that a heinous crime is a heinous crime regardless of race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. I'm not saying that hate crimes should receive special treatment over non-hate crimes in terms of disciplinary action. To use your example, yes a murder is still murder - doesn't matter if it's committed by or towards a gay or straight person. But obviously, all criminal cases have to be considered on an individual basis anyway. There are too many circumstances and variables involved to really consider ANY criminal offense a "text book case." It it those variables that determine the intentions behind the perpetrator, the severity of the crime, and therefore the severity of the punishment.

    And I have to agree with the previous comment posted by "Anonymous." There's a MAJOR difference between hurting or killing a gay person for some random objective motive as opposed to killing a gay person simply and only because he's gay. The whole idea behind hate crimes legislation is to discourage oppression against one particular group of individuals.

  10. The reason for the expansion of the hate crimes law is that many local and state law enforcement officials have such low regard for gays or share the same homophobic attitudes that they do not pursue or punish perpetrators of gay-bashings or other similar crimes against GLBT individuals or groups. The revised hate crimes law would allow the federal law enforcement to participate in or take over such cases when the local or state officials will not.

  11. Actually it boils down to this...Politics has entered into the Justice System, a place where politics is not supposed to exist.

  12. Jay summed it up very well. It all has to do with the bigger picture. A hate crime instills fear in all members of that particular community and is more akin to a terrorist act than a simple act of violence. When random members of a culture are targeted, tortured and murdered, it has a huge effect on all members of that group. It often affects the way they have to live their lives on a day-to-day basis.

    Although I have no intention of letting the crazy people run my life, I also would like to feel secure knowing that I can go into a gay bar without fear. My closet days are over.

    Mason, would you feel the same if Matthew was killed because he had done gay porn? Any time hate crimes are perpetrated, we all are at risk of losing our freedoms.

    Thaks for the lively discussion.


  13. Not being from the US, I obviously don't get full access to the US media reporting of the issue, but as I understand it, the Act (unfortunately named after poor Matthew) simply extends the remit of an existing act signed into law in 1969.

    And surely, anything that makes it easier to detect and prosecute the evil perpetrators of these sick crimes, is a good thing.

    Why shouldn't we be able to be included in the same laws that protect those attacked for the colour of their skin, or for who they choose to pray to.

    In the UK, all the groups soon to be covered in the US were all granted the same coverage at the same time when our Hate Crimes law was passed in (I think 2003).

    Anyway, just my limited foreigners understanding of the situation.c

  14. i think the point is to make sure that when you murder someone for being gay/bi/lesbian/transgendered, that you are prosecuted properly and not allowed to get away with it. it makes sense if its went about properly. you should get in trouble no matter what for murdering someone, especially on purpose. but when you murder someone for race, religion, sexual orientation, age, whatever, u should know that killing someone for WHO THEY ARE in any sort of sense, is wrong. killing is wrong in general, but i dont know. its a delicate situation. at least with the Matthew Sheppard act, you wont have to worry about someone getting away with a horrible murder because someone on the jury is homophobic and supports the killer, u know? i guess its the type of subject that will always have controversy...

  15. A crime is a crime, that is correct. But there are many things to take into account. First of all, this is "human behaviour". No matter where you go, there will always be negativity, such as death, violence etc. Hatred is a very powerful emotion, and I believe is one of the strongest in the human spirit. Since the start of time itself (and I don't know when that was, so bear with me), this has always happened. maybe not because of orientations or racial status, but for more simple reasons.
    Secondly, you must put law in its correct context. Law started out as a command by someone who believed that they had superior rights. This belief has continued for 1000s upon 1000s of years. For example, (I know this will be controversial, but please bear with me), someone said that having sex with your brother/sister is wrong. But, being in a previous mindset, you have to ask yourself, "Why is that wrong?" "Is this unnatural?" and other questions like that. Law itself is like a personal handbook. It's "technically" of the ethics of life and there are some "choices" which everyone agrees on, but there are others which cause conflict.
    The point which really gets me fuming is why the government has to create a specific Act or Policy after someone dies. For example, the Matthew Shepard Act. He was a student, and he was killed for his orientation. Unforgiveable, but that is human behaviour for you. Over here in the UK, we are having a similar problem. I'm not sure if anyone has ever heard the case of Baby P....anyway, there was this child, and he was called Baby P (they found out his name was actually Peter), and our whole service for child protection is being completely changed. What doesn't help is that we are in a deep recession, which experts claim it will take 5 years for our economy to fully stabilise.
    So overall, a crime is a crime, but if there's one thing I've learnt, it's this:
    "Life is a game; you must survive as long as possible. If you can save lives, then brilliant. If not, keep yourself alive."

  16. Crime is a crime,yes. But the problem is that getting your ass kicked for being gay isn't considered a crime right now. This law will protect YOU and your fellow gays.

  17. The very small law enforcement agency that investigated Mathew's murder was nearly bankrupted by the draw of resources that this case created. If his murder were a federal crime it would have opened up a huge support network and available funding / resources to bring his killers to justice. This needs to pass.

  18. Hate Crime laws and ruling are written and executed as a way to prevent wide targeting of one group. A crime is a crime but they need these laws for one main reason. These crime shock the very foundation of the human soul.

  19. This act does not necessarily mean that they are tacking on extra penalty for hate crimes for someone becuase of their sexual orientation. This act wants federal authorities to pursue hate crimes towards homosexuals because local authorities are'nt. In 1969 there was a hate crime law that stated hate crimes were to deal with race, religion, and physical disablities. This is sort of an addition. It's basically trying to stop hate crime from continuing from a group, that group being homosexuals. It is not necessarily saying that we should punish one man harder because he committed a hate crime towards a homosexual as opposed to one of an African-American descent.

  20. it's not as simple as "crime is a crime" or "murder is murder". there are various degrees each with their own range of time in prison and or death. so we perfectly accept, as law, as a society, that some crimes are worse than others.

    it's suprising to see someone argue that it's not that way.

  21. I agree with Mason, and i think that a law like that is stupid, as well as the other minorities hate crimes bill. Jay and spherical claims the diferrence, but then we have make an statement: does a hate crime in particular is a premeditated (planned, or in plenty faculties while doing it) or passional (not-planned, moved by the moment)then we can argue the penalty, but if being gay/black/hispanic. In the case of Shepard, it can also come as terrorism (against the gay com) but hate crime?? Is like the bill that give minorities chances to enter to colege ven if a caucasian has a better degree. And as once i heard ona TV show about the matter, I say thanks, but no thanks. We can handle it, and claim for real justice, without a special law. If we support this law, then we dont deserve that justice. I mexican, i cutrrently live in mexico, but my next US state is texas, and every tiem i go, even when my papers are in order and just touristing, most people look at me as shit. When I step american ground, Im a double minority (gay and hispanic), but it something happens, i dont believe i need special help, that would just make me feel stupid.

  22. I agree with the legislation. Like others have said, it is meant to deter people from oppressing a minority group. Other minorities get it, I should get it too. As was said earlier, the cops generally look down on us and in many conservative places the lazy fucks can't be bothered to put gay bashers in jail for the most basic assault and battery charges. Sweep it under the rug and let the good ole boys go 'cause it's the "manly" choice in their eyes.

    It's a creepy retelling of how lynchings and other hate crimes against blacks used to be swept under the rug until the Feds stepped in. I know if I were, Heaven forbid, the victim of a gay bashing, I'd want the legal screws put to that silly bitch as much as possible. Or else it's a slap on the wrist and he's off to terrorize another person.

    I'm a double minority too as gay and Hispanic and I've seen cases of Hispanics being beaten to death or almost to death for no other reason then their ethnicity and the local authorities do nothing but sit on their asses until the Feds took over. That's why I feel we need this law.

  23. Commented the other day but only had the last half of your post for some reason, which makes my comment invalid.Need to think more on this one...

  24. Mason-
    You're a dumb ass.

  25. The United Kingdom has implemented "hate crime" legislation in recent years and it has the broad backing of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Liberty, the Trades Union Congress, many churches, and within the wider society.

    I agree with all those who state that "hate crime" is not about a crime committed because somebody knows another person and decides to against that single individual for who they are, it is about acting against a person for what they are. The person becomes symbolic of the wider community and the crime has, in fact, been committed against the whole community. If it was that individual then it would be anyone who is gay.

    A story that makes me as a teacher feel relieved that the law and society are taking "hate crime" seriously is the recent conviction of a high school student who subjected a classmate to years of racially aggravated harassment and bullying. Bullying is a violent act, and rightly this was recognized by the courts.

  26. Federal laws like this one are enacted to make things consistent from state to state. A comparable inequity exists with age of consent laws. A sex act that is perfectly legal in one place can be statutory rape just across the state line.

  27. AMEN MASON! God, I love you more now. :-)

  28. In an ideal world, there would be equal penalties for equal crimes. But we don't live in that world. There are many ignorant cracker judges who are willing to let thugs who gay bash off with a light sentence because the victim was "some queer who was hunting for fresh meat." Let's you think this is fanciful, the quote was from a Dallas judge who did just that.

  29. Sorry Mason, but once again I disagree with your comments on this issue. This law is intended to punish those who actively seek out gay men and women, and commit crimes against them because of their sexual orientation. The law is not being created to punish those more severely because the commit crimes against homosexuals.

    The reason those guys killed Matthew Shepard was because they had a hatred towards gay men.Yes, murder is murder..but this bill doesnt dispute that. Its intention is to make sure that if a person or people go out of their way to kill or kick the shit out of someone just because they are gay,then they will be dealt with accordingly.

    Lets say Marcus was out at a gay bar, and some jackass saw him coming out of there. And that jackass hated gays. Marcus did nothing to that guy, and doesn't even know him. Yet suddenly a rage comes over the jackass and he wants to start some trouble. He begins with taunts, and name calling. Yet Marcus keeps walking, trying to get to his car. But the jackass gets even more infuriated. So he picks up a blunt object and attacks Marcus. He beats the living shit out of him. And the only reason he did this was that Marcus was gay. Shouldn't that jackass be punished a little more for his senseless act of violence?

  30. yeah.. but if a wife kills her husband you would think that there was something that might have provoked her

    if a guy randomly goes out and targets someone for no reason other than the fact they are gay then i personally think thats more serious.

    im not saying every gay person who gets killed/assaulted is the victim of a hate crime.. but when it is specifically because of someone's sexuality (or race or gender or whatever) then yes its a hate crime.

  31. Mason: it's so sad that you are sharing the beliefs of those who would destroy you for being gay (let alone being a porn star)...

  32. I a perfect imperfect world, you might be correct. However to understand why hate crimes legislation is so important, it is imperative that you understand the history of how GLBT victims of hate crimes have been treated by the law. Something which has been consistently inconsistent from community to community and which has been historically tainted by personal prejudice.
    Get with the program dude.
    Your statement reminds me of white people who insist that they don't see black and white when dealing with race. It's like ignoring that the problem exists because you haven't personally experienced it.

  33. The idea of a hate crime being more than a simple act of violence is that the killing or hurting a member of a minority group is meant to send a message to the larger group about knowing and keeping their place. They were set up with Afro-Americans in mind because of the lynching, burnings and beating perpetrated to send a message to the community as a whole. Whether it is totally relevant can be discussed, but the idea was/is to help ensure that the intimidation factor is taken into account. A straight person can kill a gay person without it being a hate crime, but the murder who is screaming "f**got, I'm going to show you how we treat your kind" while he is doing it is not just carrying out an act of violence, but is trying to intimidate the larger community as well.

  34. First, why would law enforcement officials that currently neglect pursuing the perpetrators of crimes against minority groups start pursuing them because of a new law? If there's a problem with enforcement, we don't need additional laws to fix that problem. If an official chooses to overlook a crime because of a disdain for the victim's sexuality, ethnicity, etc., how would his/her outlook be changed by an additional law? We need to work on ensuring that those laws that we have are enforced, and enforced for everyone, rather than just making new laws that will be just as ignored as their predecessors.

    There are many people who are bothered by minority rights movements, not by the minorities themselves, nor the request for equal rights, but rather the demand for additional rights. I, as a homosexual man, don't need another law prohibiting my murder or making my death different than any other Americans'. When we ask for things like this it sets us back by separating us, and it's fosters resentment by those not given extra protections under the law. Suddenly, my life appears to be worth more than my heterosexual brother's in terms of punishment for its taking.