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“Hate Crime” is Redundant

by on January 24, 2010

Guess the Hate Crime isn’t a fun game.  But it’s unfortunately being played in Erie County.  Consider two recent infamous attacks within the jurisdiction.  In both, it goes without saying that the victims deserve infinite sympathy while the perpetrators should face ample time in a cell as wide as one’s arm span.  But each respective offender is a base thug whether the motivation was violent homophobia, a wicked interpretation of Islam, or simple disregard for human life.  In the first case,

A woman is now charged with a hate crime, after a New Year’s Day stabbing, outside a gay and lesbian bar in Buffalo.

Catching the criminal is welcome news.  But compare that horrifying felony to last year’s most notorious murder in Western New York, namely the man who removed his wife’s head from her body in what sure appeared to be an honor killing. Appallingly, the founder of a Muslim network that “aims to foster a greater understanding among many cultures and diverse populations” is back in the news because has a most remarkable excuse, namely that he was abused by the woman he decapitated:

Attorney Frank Bogulski says Muzzammil Hassan will pursue a “justification” defense in the beheading of his wife Aasiya, that Mr. Hassan was a victim of his wife’s behavior.

“My client was the victim of years of abuse from his wife. So it is a battered person defense that we will be zealously advocating on behalf of Mo Hassan,” said Bogulski.

We’ve learned something: thanks to a particularly shameful defense strategy that would make even O.J. blush, it’s possible to hate a cold-blooded murderer even more.  Regardless of that news, what’s notable is that the stabbing is being prosecuted as a hate crime while the killing is not.  In reality, neither should receive special classification.  The hate crime charge is especially curious considering the differing accounts of the New Year’s confrontation:

29 year old Lindsay Harmon was cut in the eye outside Roxy’s nightclub on Main Street in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day. “What I know about thus far, is there are multiple versions of the events of what occurred outside of Roxy’s…and all that information will be given to the grand jury,” says Sedita.

Was it a targeted attack?  Or was it a bar-adjacent sidewalk argument that degenerated into an assault?  It’s irrelevant: what’s important is that the assailant’s deed itself was revolting.  Still, some are demanding special police treatment in the form of an officer dedicated to the concerns of those who share a certain sexual orientation:

We are also requesting an LGBT/Police Liaison program with which to certify our concerns and develop strong and sensible solutions to avoid such issues in the future.

The campaigners desire equality while simultaneously receiving special protection.  In truth, we shouldn’t treat certain types of victims differently.  If crime’s a problem in the district, deploy more cops while putting up more lights and cameras.  But the goal should be to protect all people on those streets, not just those of a particular lifestyle.  Even with the horrific details in mind, one awful wounding committed by a wanton individual doesn’t equal an anti-gay epidemic initiated by an army of vicious bigots.

Prosecutors should consider a crime’s severity as opposed to focusing upon the defendant’s rationale.  Anyone who would attack or murder another human is motivated by hate.  Determining the motive may be significant.  But we should chiefly care that the eye-stabber rots after facing justice no matter why she did it.

  1. A caste system for victims:
    Muslim honor killing in which a wife’s decapitated head is kicked around the house… not a hate crime.
    Shooting an abortion doctor… hate crime.
    Bashing a pizza delivery man with a baseball bat… not a hate crime.
    Stabbing a lesbian in the face… hate crime.
    -Liberals are deranged

  2. The term mens rea is one you should all become acquainted with.

    And no, shooting an abortion doctor is not classified as a “hate crime”.

  3. Peace permalink

    It’s a hate-crime if the victim has been attacked because of his/her belief system/color/nationality/sexual orientation etc. In the case of Muzzammil Hassan, you cannot categorize it as a hate crime since it does not fit into these categories. It’s murder and it’s unacceptable. The shooting of George Tiller was never seen as a hate-crime but as an act of terrorism. Some would put it as extremism(right-wing extremism in this case) and I am indifferent to that. He shot him because of his own beliefs(same thing the terrorists have done on 9/11) and he feels that it’s justified.

    Stabbing a homosexual woman in the face because the suspect didn’t approve of her sexual preference, is a hate-crime.

  4. How do you know what is in a person’s mind, Thought Police? Mens Rea Guardia?

  5. If “hate crime” considers belief systems… would not abortion qualify as a belief system?

  6. 1,000 years of common law has established that mens rea is one of the requisite elements of any crime. If it wasn’t, there’d be no distinction between the homicidal crimes of murder and manslaughter.

    Also, “hate crimes” do “consider belief systems”. This is seriously basic Constitutional Law 101 stuff. So no, “abortion” doesn’t qualify as a “belief system”.

    It’s fun to be informed.

  7. Buffalopundit,
    So mens rea is the basis for hate crime legislation?
    The concept of “hate crime” seems political.
    Constitutional Law 101… “hate crimes” and “belief systems” where?

  8. Part of the mens rea in a hate crime has to be animus against a protected class.

    If you smack someone in a bar fight with the intent to smack them because they looked at your girl the wrong way, that’s not a hate crime.

    If you smack someone in a bar fight with the intent to smack them because they’re gay and you really don’t like gays, that’s a hate crime.

  9. Understood…
    I just struggle with the concept of “protected class.”

  10. Then you should word it as:

    “group of people who are a certain way due to birth/genetics and can’t really help the way they are and society has made a value judgment that it’s not ok to commit crimes against them out of hatred for the way they are.”

  11. Sorry, I respectfully disagree.
    Classifying a group of people based on a societal value judgement seems repressive and dangerous.
    I believe that it is not right to commit a violent crime against anyone, period.

  12. No one said it is “right to commit a violent crime against anyone”.

    It’s just that it there is an extra punishment if you commit a violent crime for the sole purpose of bigotry or animus.

  13. Your point is well taken…
    It’s just that hate crime legislation worries me.
    I fear political complications.

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