Re: future president?

Date: Wed Aug 29 2001 - 10:19:24 MDT

From: "Louis Newstrom" <>

> From: "Harvey Newstrom" <>
> > I also think you have an inflated idea of what a hate crime is. Hate crimes
> > give tougher sentences on criminals who commit violent crimes. They do not
> > arrest people for mere words or ideas.
> I would disagree with this. The hate crime law does not give tougher
> sentences based on the violence of the crime. They give tougher sentences
> based on what the perp was thinking.

I think you have misread what Harvey wrote, in saying that you disagree.
Nothing you have written is inconsistent with what Harvey said.

He did not say that the tougher sentences are based on violence of crimes,
as you suggest. He said that the idea of hate crime laws is to increase
sentences, not to arrest people for certain words. (I have lost the
context of his remarks, but perhaps someone had suggested that hate
crime laws involved arresting people for saying hateful things.)

> The point being this: He gets 20 years for murder. Why should he get
> another 10 because of what he was thinking? The woman is just as dead
> regardless of his thought process. Also, many people worry that this is
> criminalizing certain thoughts. They say (and I agree) murder is illegal.
> We don't need to (or want to) delve into what the guy was thinking.

Several factors go into determining what the appropriate punishment is
for a crime. Intent is one of those, as in our distinctions between
the various classifications of homicide. First degree murder requires
premeditation; second degree murder requires malice; beyond that you have
voluntary manslaughter, such as in the heat of passion, or involuntary
manslaughter, from a reckless act. Below that is negligent homicide.
All of these are fundamentally based on what the killer was thinking.

It may be that society believes it is "more evil" to do certain acts with
a specific intent, and hence more deserving of punishment. Racism has
been the cause of terrible evil over the centuries, and society may want
to see it punished more.

Or it may be a pragmatic matter, that there is a major social problem of
violence being perpetrated for specific reasons, and in order to deter
this class of violence, the punishment is increased when those specific
reasons apply.

I agree that it can be problematic to determine intent. The burden of
proof should certainly be on the prosecution. However I don't think we
should rule it out as a factor in considering the punishment for a crime.


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