Something worse than a hate crime

Via David Neiwert (who titles his post "The worst kind of hate crime"), I learned about this report of a murder of a gay man which is being called a "hate crime":

Amancio Corrales, a 23-year-old Yuma man who was dressed as a woman when he was murdered, may have been the victim of a hate crime, according to the Yuma County Sheriff's Office.

"A hate crime is not ruled out," Sheriff's Capt. Eben Bratcher said. "Until we find who did it, we don't know the motive. The situation lends itself for one to believe that's the case. Thinking someone is a woman and then finding they were a man would not sit well with some people."

Bratcher said Corrales was dressed as a female while attempting to pass himself off as a woman at one or more local bars on the night of May 5.

Bratcher said it was "a significant possibility" that Corrales left one of the bars with people who thought he was a woman.

Corrales' body was found May 6 submerged in shallow water about 500 feet west of Paradise Cove, just west of Yuma's Joe Henry Park. Corrales was born in Sinaloa, Mexico, and was a cosmetologist.

YCSO has said only that Corrales died as a result of "violent trauma." Bratcher declined to describe Corrales' specific injuries.

Rumors in the community and on Internet message boards have alleged that Corrales was brutally beaten to death, possibly even mutilated.

Bratcher said he had heard many of the rumors about the murder, several of which he said were not true. He said YCSO would prefer that people who believe they have information about the crime come and speak to sheriff's investigators or call them at 783-4427.

The rumors include this (apparently) unconfirmed report that Mr. Corrales's penis was cut off:
While dressed as a women, it is reported that Corrales flirted with a well known US Marine named "David." Eyewitnesses at the bar that night said "David" was furious when he found out Corrales was a man. Corrales was seen leaving the bar in a silver Honda with "David" and two other men whom appeared to be US Marines. "David" and the two other men took Corrales to a location near Paradise Cove, where the next morning Corrales was found dead and mutilated. Corrales' family who lives in Yuma, confirms Armancio's penis was cut off, his throat slashed and that Mr. Corrales suffered severe trauma to the head. The viewing was May 11th at Yuma Mortuary; the funeral was May 12th. Armancio is burried at Yuma Cemetery in Yuma.

Whether or not the man's penis was severed (and I would think that could be easily determined by looking at the autopsy report), any crime like this obviously involves hate. What I've never been able to understand is what classifying a murder as a hate crime is supposed to do. Is murder plus hate worse than murder without hate? Interestingly, in California at least, murder for financial gain is taken more seriously than murders in the heat of passion, although the conduct here would certainly fall into several other "special circumstances" categories.

If there's the death penalty for murder, what can be added by way of punishment? This man's murderer should get the death penalty, period.

It may be that the murderer killed Corrales in a rage after discovering that he wasn't a woman. That is certainly no defense to a murder charge, but does it make it any worse than if Corrales had been killed, say, for refusing to have sex? Suppose Corrales had actually been a woman, and been murdered. Why isn't that a hate crime? And if it is, how does it change anything?

Certainly, if Corrales was mutilated in this heinously gruesome manner, it makes the death penalty even more appropriate. But doesn't murder plus mutilation ratchet this case up into a category worse than mere "hate crime"?

What am I missing? Whether the victim or his murderer were or were not gay? Considering the extreme and depraved level of violence in this murder, I think it's more likely that the murderer himself suffered from an inability to face his own homosexual leanings. A healthy heterosexual male who was not interested in sex would simply have walked away from a homosexual encounter. It's obvious to me from the picture that Mr. Corrales was a man, and I think you'd have to be a moron not to sense that. Perhaps his murderer was a moron, but I think not. I've lived in both in San Francisco and Hawaii, and I've been in plenty of places frequented by drag queens. I've known a number of drag queens, and I am familiar with what's called "trade" sex. I think the murderer probably knew Corrales was a man, and freaked out at some point (maybe even at the moment of arousal) for reasons involving his own sexual pathology. Might be homosexual adjustment disorder, but I'm not a shrink... (although I'm proud that one newly blogrolled blogger -- The Cliffs of Insanity -- so classifies me!)

I don't doubt he was motivated by hatred; he may have hated himself, too.

Parenthetically, I once knew a man who'd have regular sex with an apparently heterosexual professional football player. The latter would fly into violent rages after intercourse, and he'd leave screaming things like "I'm not a fa--ot!!" -- only to return a week or so later for more. There are crazy people in this world. If they murder other people, I think they should be punished regardless of sexual motivations.

How much worse does worse get?


UPDATE: The recent gay bashing of an American journalist in the Netherlands (apparently by Moroccan men) illustrates that even in the gay press some hate crimes are are more hateful than others. (Link via Cathy Young.)

MORE: Here's La Shawn Barber on hate crime:

I’m going to demonstrate the silliness of these laws. Let’s suppose I’m bashing you over the head because you cut me off in traffic. There’s a law against that. Now let’s suppose I’m doing the same thing because you’re white, and I hate whites. Does the crime change? Why should I get two extra years in jail because I hate whites? If I’m beating you just because you’re white, does it hurt worse than if I’m beating you just because you cut me off in traffic? What if I’m bashing you over the head because you’re white and because you cut me off in traffic?

Let’s say I, a black person, set you on fire because you’re black and I hate black people, even though I’m black. In addition to other criminal laws broken, is it also a hate crime?

Don’t you see how ridiculous it gets? You cannot penalize what I think. It’s insane! There are already laws on the books for the hypothetical crimes I committed. Only a bored, technologically advanced society would come up with something this stupid. Hate crime laws are just more government power and intrusion. I feel stupid even writing “hate crime laws.” That’s how stupid they are. It’s just an attempt to codify political correctness, something I already loathe.

So we already know blacks and homosexuals are among the “protected classes” the laws are designed for. Skin color and sexual preferences. That’s all liberals care about. But let’s say you’re a man and you hate women. Is wife-beating a hate crime? Is raping a woman a hate crime? What about raping a black woman? Is it a hate crime only if you’re doing it because she’s black? Is the crime qualitatively worse because you hate blacks, women or both?

Even if hate crime laws are content-neutral (no specific group named), they’re redundant. For every criminal act you can think of, there’s a law against it. What other reason besides criminalizing thoughts do these laws serve?

If someone is convicted of a hate crime against black people as a class, and La Shawn doesn't want to be among the class of victims, can she be made a victim against her will?

posted by Eric on 05.21.05 at 11:38 AM







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Comments

Please pick up your psychology PhD immediately for that excellent bit of analysis.

I've thought the same thing about "hate crime" legislation. Murder is a hate crime, plain and simple. (In fact, someone saying that murdered someone because he "loved" the victim is probably even creepier, when you think about it.)

Was it Jung who wants said that we hate in others what we most fear in ourselves?

retrofuturistic   ·  May 21, 2005 9:16 PM

"Parenthically, I once knew a man who'd have regular sex with an apparently heterosexual professional football player. The latter would fly into violent rages after intercourse, and he'd leave screaming things like 'I'm not a fa--ot!!' -- only to return a week or so later for more."

Bet the sex was way hot.

The idea behind hate crimes legislation seems to be that it's the wider society's job to provide restitution for emotional suffering. If you don't mind having the collective referee feelings, that's fine. If not, not.

Sean Kinsell   ·  May 21, 2005 11:15 PM

The idea behing giving MORE weight to certain violent crimes, is to compensate for the fact of certain state and local governments giving LESS weight to the same crimes. When local officials brush off a certain murder because the victim was black, gay, transvestite, Pagan, or whatever, this increases the outrage of those in the targeted minority, which is why we now have "hate crimes legislation." It's not fair, as you noted, but it's a direct response to another unfairness.

I'd be perfectly happy to see the distinction erased -- if it is erased from BOTH extremes.

Raging Bee   ·  May 22, 2005 4:11 PM

Eric,
I found your blog interesting if somewhat misinformed. But from your perspective, I'm sure you tackled it as best as you could. I think there is often a lot of negative and ignorant information put out by the media about transgender people. They are often referred to as men, though they spend their whole lives as women. Your assertions that..
"It's obvious to me from the picture that Mr. Corrales was a man, and I think you'd have to be a moron not to sense that. "
Are over stating things quite a bit. I am transgender, and I can tell you that 99.5% of the time people don't know I'm trans until I tell them. That's just life, people's head isn't in a place of "Oh that person was born male”. I think you are objectifying her as a ‘freak’ or ‘transvestite’ in a way that probably doesn’t reflect the reality of her life.

Obviously none of us know what events led up to the murder, but I can assure you Transgender women are murdered at a rate in the US of about 1 per month, there is a national ‘day of remembrance’ to remember those transgender women and men who have been killed for their gender identity and expression. (http://www.gender.org/remember/day/index.html ). Often they are killed just for the fact that they are transgender, and not because they have intentionally 'deceived' anyone or attempted to engage in coercive sex acts with perpetrators .

I have on several occasions been confronted by 'straight men' who were insulted by my existence when they were informed I was transgender. Insulted by their attraction to me, and thus their perception that they're gay. Homophobia is bigger than pathology as you suggest. It's not an individual trying to suppress ‘gay leanings’ as you suggest. Homophobia is a societal problem that constructs 'straight male' masculinity in opposition to 'homosexuality' or 'gayness'. Transwomen transgress that.. and blur the lines. People who fuzzy the borders and boundaries, people who are shades of grey are often targeted just for their position and no other reason. If the perpetrator was a Marine, and was with his male friends as you suggest (but which I have found no media reports to confirm), it is equally likely that he was trying to prove his masculinity and really had nothing to do with his sexual orientation. Think about it, which is more likely? Some suppressed ‘gay guy’ killing a transwoman, or a straight guy trying to prove how butch he is by fucking up a ‘transvestite, fag, homo, I could go on.. ’

I think the last person to post his on the intention behind hate crimes legislation. To up the ante and create an aggravated crime. I'm not sure how hate crimes legislation works in AZ but often it revokes the possibility of parole and extends the sentence.

I think your critique of hate crimes legislation is very valid, but I would rather have the legislation in place than not. I mean honestly, does it really matter? Murder is murder. But I think it is also meant to send a message "hate is unacceptable".

Anyhow.
Not to lose sight, I think that you should consider revising your statements. We don't know if Amancio was gay, and in fact more likely probably identified as a straight woman. To call her gay is inaccurate. You don't know her sexual orientation. To assume that she was presenting female, and so thus was gay is completely off base. There are TONS of transgender lesbians (people born male who live as women and date women) And a majority of “crossdressers” are heterosexual men who are often married.

I think we should respect the pronouns she would have chosen to be called at the time of her death. She, and Her. She died because of her gender identity and expression that is not in doubt here. I would ask that you at least honor that by respecting her enough to call her by the pronouns she chose that evening. No matter how you feel about gender transition, cross gender presentation, or people being 'gay'. I think that it is clear how she wanted to be viewed.

Anyhow. Sorry to rant.
Just trying to clear up some of the misinformation that lingers in the universe.

Sincerely,
Danielle Askini

Danielle Askini   ·  May 22, 2005 7:52 PM

Raging Bee-

You've hit this nail on the head.

That's exactly the motivation behind hate crimes laws.

But trying to correct one form of injustice by creating another "counterbalancing" form of injustice never works. Because they don't end up affecting the same case -- state governments that tend to give less weight to prosecuting crimes targeting a certain minority are not the same state governments that pass hate crimes laws "protecting" that minority.

It's just like your parents taught you -- two wrongs don't make a right.

Clint   ·  May 23, 2005 6:07 AM

Clint: given that the whole "hate crimes legislation" controversy has indeed focused public attention on minorities targeted for violence, and on the injustice of both the violent crimes against them and certain authorities' careless responses to same, I think you should qualify your bland ideology-based statement that such measures "never work." It's a blunt and far-from-perfect instrument, like most legal solutions, to be sure, but it does work. At least it's better than nothing, and I have yet to hear a better alternative proposal.

(Also, there are Federal hate-crimes laws that serve to put a bit of fire to the feet of state and local officials who might otherwise write off a certain incident as "just another fag in the wrong place and time." You might call it Federal meddling in matters traditionally reserved to the States, but perhaps such meddling is warranted when the States aren't doing their job.)

People and nations 'correct one form of injustice by creating another "counterbalancing" form of injustice' all the time: war to punish warmongers; brutal crackdowns in response to out-of-control crime; wierd regulations to prevent yesterday's financial fraud schemes from being repeated; etc. etc. "The law is an ass" and all that...

Raging Bee   ·  May 23, 2005 10:12 AM

Sigh.

It's really very simple.

Criminal law has always meted out greater punishment for greater harm. It's called proportionality.

So-called "hate crimes" (in the law, they're called bias crimes; that is, the laws enhance the sentence of a perp committing a crime for a bias motivation) cause quantifiably greater harm on three levels:

-- The immediate victim. Typically hate crimes are more violent than other crimes. Moreover, numerous studies have demonstrated beyond any serious question that they cause greater psychological harm to the victims than their parallel counterparts.

-- The target community. Bias crimes are "message" crimes whose broad intent is to intimidate and terrorize an entire bloc within the community in which it occurs, usually a minority of some kind or other.

-- The larger community. In addition to the usual harm inflicted by any crime, bias crimes also divide communities and reduce democratic participation, as well as equality of opportunity and other basic community values.

Of course, I've explained all this before in considerable detail.

David Neiwert   ·  May 23, 2005 10:02 PM

David N., your link isn't working for me, but is this the post you were talking about? I have no trouble believing that being targeted as a homosexual, or as a woman, or as a Latino, is more psychologically shattering than just being mugged. But does having one's assailant sentenced more harshly help traumatized people recover more quickly or more fully? And do hate crimes laws actually help bind communities together more effectively, making future attacks less likely? (Your own argument seems to indicate that they don't.)

Sean Kinsell   ·  May 24, 2005 2:09 AM

Danielle, I don't think I declared anyone to be gay. How could I know? I use gay as a synonym for homosexual, and I consider sexual activity between two men (and if both parties have penises, they're men) to be homosexual sex. Beyond that, I don't know, and I wrote this out of speculation based on my personal experience. I'm not knocking or judging cross dressers at all (far from it!) and I have known a number of gay men who dress in drag as well as men who consider themselves transsexuals (which I know is not the same thing). As to what was going through the murderer's mind, I suspect it was some kind of sexual maladjustment of the type I've seen before. This man has to be punished as an individual, and I don't think it's helpful to assign collective guilt.

David, as to hate crime, I still don't see how additional penalties would be applicable beyond the death penalty. Hatred itself is not a crime because it is not conduct, so it only becomes a relevant factor in sentencing. Even in the case of gruesome multiple murders, a criminal can only be executed once.

Eric Scheie   ·  May 24, 2005 7:54 AM

...I still don't see how additional penalties would be applicable beyond the death penalty.

Perhaps you "still don't see" that not all murderers get the death penalty.

Furthermore, varying a sentence according to the intent and harm done does not "assign collective guilt;" it's still an individual being sentenced.

But does having one's assailant sentenced more harshly help traumatized people recover more quickly or more fully?

Yes, if it convinces them that at least some of society is on their side.

And do hate crimes laws actually help bind communities together more effectively, making future attacks less likely?

Many hate crimes are committed by people who are acting out the fears, hangups and hatreds that have been passed to them by their society; and in many cases the perpetrators expect some sort of approval, a free pass, or leniency from society for that reason. Hate-crimes laws send a contrary message, that such acts are NOT universally condoned, and will NOT get swept under the rug, just because the victim was part of an easily-targeted minority.

So it's unfair...so are the crimes themselves. Let's keep some perspective here...

Raging Bee   ·  May 24, 2005 8:50 AM

Raging Bee:
"But does having one's assailant sentenced more harshly help traumatized people recover more quickly or more fully?

'Yes, if it convinces them that at least some of society is on their side.'"

I'm seriously not trying to be obnoxious here, but is that something that's been studied in a controlled fashion, or just the way it sounds as if things should be? I don't know myself, though if there were studies that were considered reliable, I would have thought they'd be cited frequently in literature about hate crimes.

There's plenty about human resilience and resourcefulness that we don't seem to be able to transmit to people in the ways that seem most direct and obvious. Witness the way attempts to build self-esteem of the rah-rah-you're-special kind don't work in schools. Whether general self-esteem is a perfect parallel to the ability to put a vicious assault behind you and realize you're a valuable person who deserves to move on, I don't know. But it is simply not self-evident that finding as many ways as possible to remind a victim that he's a victim will help him recover. Validate the way he feels, maybe, but not necessarily help him to move beyond it.

Sean Kinsell   ·  May 24, 2005 9:21 AM

How do hate-crime laws "remind a victim that he's a victim" any more than any other law designed to protect victims of violent crime? The point of these laws -- which their opponents are clearly avoiding, by any diversion necessary -- is to remind EVERYONE that terrorizing "queers," "freaks," and other not-quite-popular minorities is no longer as quietly kinda sorta maybe tolerated as it used to be, and that we, as a society, are at least trying to make "equal protection of the laws" a reality for everyone.

I don't mean to be obnoxious, but the implication that laws designed to protect victims and punish victimizers are bad because they "remind a victim that he's a victim," is just plain screwy.

Raging Bee   ·  May 24, 2005 9:40 AM

No one is suggesting that the hatred involved should let this guy (or anyone else) off the hook. As a matter of fact, I think it adds to the egregiousness of the crime, and should be considered an aggravating factor in sentencing. I cannot see making hatred a special additional element of crime to be the subject of a specific criminal charge, because I think that tends to criminalize hatred. Not that I am "for" hatred, but the fact is, hatred is thought, and criminalizing hatred is the first step in the creation of thought crimes.

Eric Scheie   ·  May 24, 2005 10:18 AM

If a judge factors motive (thought) into the sentencing decision (which most sensible judges have done since the dawn of time), is this not also "criminalizing" certain thoughts, "the first step in the creation of thought crimes?"

"Intent" is discerned from the specific facts of the action, not by pretending to read anyone's mind. Repeated stabbing indicates extreme emotion; cash still in the wallet rules out robbery as motive; name-calling during the beating implies that the perpetrators hated the victim for being gay; that sort of thing.

Your reasoning fails for the simple reason that the crime that gets the suspect into the courtroom in the first place is an ACT, not his thought. No act, no crime.

Raging Bee   ·  May 24, 2005 10:30 AM

I don't think discretion in sentencing creates a new category of crime. Statutes do.

No act, no crime? I would agree, except that hate crime statutes add an element beyond the act; they create a new crime based on the assumption that the criminal intended his crime against a person to intimidate other members of the group to which person belonged.

A classic hate crime example would be cross burning. Sure, it's an act, but what's really going on? The burning of the cross is intended to intimidate people. Isn't that the same case with flag burning or the deliberate defacing of campaign signs? Aren't these hate crimes also acts of protest? Should they be criminalized simply because there's hatred of groups involved?

I distrust hate crimes legislation because it elevates crimes outside the realm of the individuals involved and into the realm of collectivist thinking. The equation seems to be that the hate crime is not a crime committed against an individual, but it is a special crime against all members of the group to which the victim belonged. In the name of advancing multiculturalism, this injects groupthink into the criminal process, which is, I think, ultimately destructive of the ends of justice.

In theory, all crimes are committed against all members of society, not just against a particular group. The idea of punishing a criminal for a crime against a particular group of people, by creating new, constantly multiplying classes of victims (with a corresponding new role in the criminal process) tortures the definition of crime and victim beyond the event which occurred. It may be violative of due process and possibly the confrontation clause of the Constitution, because the accused are entitled to have every element proved. Suppose other members of the group do not believe the crime was directed against them and do not wish to prosecute? Is that relevant? Who gets to decide which group is being victimized? Many feminists have argued that every rape is intended to degrade and intimidate women as a class. Charging an individual rapist with such a thing creates more problems than it solves, in my view.

And where does it end? Can hate crimes be committed against Democrats? Republicans?

Eric Scheie   ·  May 24, 2005 10:57 AM

Your attempt to equate hate-crimes laws with "collectivist thinking" borders on free-association. If anything leads to, or reinforces, collectivist thinking, it is violent actions clearly aimed at members of minorities because of who they are. Your concerns about collectivist thinking are valid but grossly misplaced. The collectivist thinking was already present in people who condone the oppression of those who don't fit into the collective.

As I explicitly said before, the intent with which a crime has been committed can be reasonably discerned from specific facts of the act, and the consequences that can be reasonably expected therefrom. Burning a cross at a private gathering is okay; burning a cross on a black person's private property, without the owner's consent, can reasonably be considered an attempt to intimidate an innocent person because he is black. Burning a cross in public might be considered a general attempt to intimidate minorities, and might incite minorities to commit criminal acts that they would not otherwise commit; and "incitement" is generally illegal.

I do not know exactly how hate-crimes laws are written. If they specify certain "classes of victims" who are more inviolable than others, as you seem to imply they do, then that is indeed unjust and probably unconstutional. (And you should be prepared to cite specific clauses of specific laws if that is indeed what you allege.) But if they merely demand harsher penalties for acts that can be proven to be motivated by hatred and a desire to oppress and intimidate, then that is not the same thing as "creating classes of victims."

In theory, all crimes are committed against all members of society, not just against a particular group.

Yes, but in practice, not all members of society are equally affected by a given crime. When a cross is burned in the US, everyone who knows any history knows that white Christian non-liberal Americans do not have cause to fear, and nearly everyone else does. There is indeed inequality here, but it is not created by hate-crime laws.

Raging Bee   ·  May 24, 2005 11:48 AM

Raging Bee:
"I don't mean to be obnoxious, but the implication that laws designed to protect victims and punish victimizers are bad because they 'remind a victim that he's a victim,' is just plain screwy."

Sorry--that was poorly worded. I was talking about finding as many ways as possible to remind the victim that he's this or that kind of victim. The knowledge that you were targeted as an [XYZ category of person] doesn't un-beat you up, and it doesn't make you less likely to arouse the ire of a similar miscreant in the future. So the next question is, does it make it easier for you to cope with and move beyond the crime? Do women whose counseling takes the Catharine MacKinnon this-was-a-crime-against-all-women tack recover from rapes better than others? I've never seen evidence to support that. That hate crimes laws are designed to protect victims doesn't mean that they work that way in practice.

As for punishing victimizers, I don't buy the whole buzzing-hive-of-empathetic-hysteria model of people's reactions to a crime against someone they identify with. I don't see how clobbering one black guy victimizes all black people, even if the attacker's own intent is to do so.

Sean Kinsell   ·  May 24, 2005 12:01 PM

Do women whose counseling takes the Catharine MacKinnon this-was-a-crime-against-all-women tack recover from rapes better than others?

This a valid question, and completely separate from that of punishing perpetrators according to the imputed intent of their crimes.

I don't see how clobbering one black guy victimizes all black people, even if the attacker's own intent is to do so.

In certain circumstances at least, it victimizes all black people by telling them that they are vulnerable to attack, and that they cannot count on being able to exercise their basic rights (i.e., go to a polling-place, move into an all-white neighborhood, etc.), without endangering their own lives. It instills fear and thus perhaps alters behavior. If someone sees violence against someone else of his own kind, and is too scared to exercise his rights, then he too is a victim of that violence.

Raging Bee   ·  May 24, 2005 12:46 PM

"This a valid question, and completely separate from that of punishing perpetrators according to the imputed intent of their crimes."

No, I don't think it is. You're talking about protecting victims. Even David Neiwart acknowledged that hate crimes laws don't seem to have much deterrant value. If we're not protecting victims from criminal action itself, there's not much else to protect them from except the after-effects once a crime has been committed. Rape has been extensively studied over the last few decades, and plenty of rape crisis centers are run by people who adhere to the strain of feminist thinking that rape is a crime against women in general. If we're going to get evidence that the thinking behind hate crimes legislation is helpful for individual victims, data on rape are the most likely to provide it.

"It instills fear and thus perhaps alters behavior."

Fear of any kind of personal assault or property crime can make you alter your behavior. You may avoid jogging in certain parks because of muggings, or avoid parking your car in a theft-prone area, or not wear your best accessories if going into the city for dinner. Is there a special kind of intimidation thus exerted on people who can afford Rolexes?

Sean Kinsell   ·  May 24, 2005 1:27 PM

Sean: your last paragraph sounds quite logical, except that it seems to flatly ignore that which is self-evident.

Here's what Neiwert says about the deterrent value, not only of hate-crime laws, but of laws in general:

..."All of the offenses covered by the hate-crime statute already are against the law. If that doesn't deter offenders, making them against two laws won't either." The same logic (or lack thereof) could apply to anti-terrorism laws as well.

In reality, deterrence has always been a secondary factor when it comes to determining the worth of a law. There's very little evidence, for instance, that laws against murder have a deterrent effect on would-be killers, either. This does not mean we should not have laws against murder. Indeed, deterrence is often the weakest argument for or against any kind of law that affects punishment.

Rather, there is an expressive value in the law at work here: that is, the law expresses our core community values. We punish murder harshly because, as a society, we wish to express our harshest condemnation for such acts. We punish other violent crimes on a scale that reflects, similarly, the harm they inflict upon the community.

Preventing hate crimes in the end comes down to the community and its recognition of the real harm they inflict, well over and above their parallel crimes. The laws alone, it must be said, are half-measures at best. If a community takes hate crimes seriously, and confronts them in a meaningful fashion that uses the law simply as a starting point -- a line drawn in the sand, as it were -- then it has a chance to make a real difference.

Actually preventing crimes, as always, is hard and often complex work... [Emphasis added - RB.]

Do you have a problem with any of that? I don't. In fact, just about all of the concerns raised here about "unequal treatment" and "special classes of victims" and "collectivist thinking" and the like, have been coherently addressed, and kicked to the curb via fact-based argument, in Neiwert's article.

Imperfect though they may be (and they're nowhere near as imperfect as some here have alleged), hate-crimes laws are about recognizing the harm done by hate-crimes (which we used to sweep under the rug), and trying to correct a self-evident problem. I, for one, will continue to support them until a better solution is offered. (And your alternative is...?)

Raging Bee   ·  May 24, 2005 2:21 PM

Sorry, the quoted text should have been in italics all the way to "[Emphasis added - RB.]"

Raging Bee   ·  May 24, 2005 2:22 PM

Ooh, here's more:

Conversely, pretending that a swastika on a synagogue is just another case of vandalism, or treating (especially in law enforcement terms) a "fag bashing" as just another bar fight, sends quite another message, one that in the mind of a hate-crime perpetrator equates with approval. A slap on the wrist is too often seen as a pat on the back; equanimity as forbearance.

Raging Bee   ·  May 24, 2005 2:30 PM

Stating that "collectivist thinking was already present in people who condone the oppression of those who don't fit into the collective" commits a logical error by using one form of collectivism (if condoning oppression is collectivism) to justify another, and also assumes that people here are "condoning oppression."

Short of establishing unconstitutional special categories, I see no way to draw the line as to what hatred is treated as special hatred.

Why would a hammer and sickle spraypainted on a bank or a Church not be a hate crime? Some think spraying "God hates fags" on the Metropolitan Community Church would be a hate crime too. If it is, then why not "God hates Republicans" or "Republicans=Nazis" spraypainted on a campaign headquarters?

I think it's all a crock, and another excuse for tyranny.

As to alternatives, I'd suggest treating crime as crime.

Eric Scheie   ·  May 24, 2005 3:36 PM

Yet another extremely interesting discussion here. I will state my views:

I will not have any government telling me that "hate is unacceptable". I have the right to hate or to love anybody or anything I want and I hate any government that tries to tell me otherwise. Hate is good. I hate Nazis, Communists, terrorists, and all other enemies of my freedom. I hate people who hate homosexuals (or Jews or Negroes....), attack them, murder them, try to pass laws against them, and judges who give such murderers a slap on the wrist. Hate is not the opposite of love, its negation, but its necessary corollary. You hate that which destroys or threatens that which you love. E.g., if you love your spouse, and then if somebody murder her or him, then you hate that murderer. If you love your country, you hate the enemies of your country. Hate is good, as love is good.

As to the laws, I must say that I am pleased to see that liberals are now actually arguing from the old conservative premise that the purpose of punishment is to avenge the victim, to show the victim that society is on his or her side, to show the criminal that society is displeased with his or her actions. I agree with that. Instead of each individual or family having to hunt down and punish a rapist or murderer, we employ police to hunt them down and courts and executioners to administer punishment, retribution, according to just laws. In other words, the primary purpose of punishment is not deterrence (though in many cases punishments do have that effect) nor "rehabilitation" ("the con's biggest con" as a police chief once put it) but retribution, i.e., justice, or "revenge", as liberals snerringly call it. I agree with Archie Bunker when he asked: "What's wrong with revenge? What better way to get even?" The Bible, in Genesis 9:6, puts it even better: "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made He man." Justice must come before mercy, for for crimes or sins to be forgiven, there must first be a recognition that there is such a thing as crime or sin, absolutes of right and wrong. This is sorely lacking in much of today's intellectual climate.

This is not to say that I'm un-budgeable on this capital punishment controversy. I'm perfectly willing to stop executing convicted murderers, just as soon as liberals decide to stop aborting their own and others' children.

Eric: you keep on asking questions the like of which have already been discussed both here and in Neiwert's article. The article explicitly states that judges, and society as a whole, must clearly examine both the criminal act and the discernable intent and predictable consequences thereof. What part of Neiwert's discourse do you not understand or agree with?

As for your recommendation that we "treat crime as crime," that's what we're doing! Refusing to acknowledge that not all "crime" is alike, or to clearly discuss the complexities of the issues, does not bring justice to anyone.

Why would a hammer and sickle spraypainted on a bank or a Church not be a hate crime? Some think spraying "God hates fags" on the Metropolitan Community Church would be a hate crime too. If it is, then why not "God hates Republicans" or "Republicans=Nazis" spraypainted on a campaign headquarters?

The quickest answer to these questions is that a judge would have to consider which of these acts carries a credible threat or implication of violence at the time. The "God hates fags" bit WOULD be a hate crime, because violence against gays is currently an all-too-regular occurence; and such grafitti cannot currently be ignored as an empty threat, and is therefore more harmful. The "God hates Republicans" bit is not as threatening, since violence against Republicans is not nearly as prevalent as violence against gays. If either of these situations were to change over time (i.e., if violence against Republicans were to increase sharply), then judges would change their reasoning in response.

Raging Bee   ·  May 24, 2005 4:51 PM

Treating crimes differently because of social trends like the regularity of their occurence or which group is considered to suffer more judges an accused individual's guilt on the basis of conduct of people beyond his control, and who were not involved in the crime. Again, it violate Equal Protection and is in my view a recipe for disaster.

BTW, I'm not running a debating club here and I don't have to spend my time reading or refuting things posted elsewhere.

Once again, I have no problem in using discretion in sentencing. It is entirely reasonable to sentence a vandal motivated by hate to a more severe punishment. But to call vandalism more than vandalism because of the additional presence of hate creates a new crime based not on his action but on his thoughts. I think it is profoundly illogical, and probably unconstitutional.

Eric Scheie   ·  May 24, 2005 8:35 PM

The Supreme Court has always been quite clear in its rulings that hate-crimes laws do not violate the equal-protection clause of the Constitution.

It's pretty clear why: The laws are written in a way that applies them across all sectors of society.

To illustrate: The four chief categories of bias motivation listed under most hate-crimes laws are race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation.

It doesn't take much to realize that these are universal categories: everyone has a race, an ethnicity, a religion, a sexual orientation.

And indeed, if you check the FBI's annual hate-crime statistics, you will see that they are indeed generally applied evenly. Out of the 9,000 or so hate crimes reported every year, nearly 1,000 of them are anti-white hate crimes. Others include a large number of anti-Christian hate crimes, etc. The list goes on. The majority is protected by these laws just as assuredly as minorities.

Raging Bee, you have a very solid handle on this issue. And you argue well too. Thank you.

David Neiwert   ·  May 25, 2005 3:08 AM

Thanx for the compliment. Of course, it's easy to look and feel smart when one is arguing against shoddy facts and propagandistic logic.

I haven't had time to read your column in great detail. Are you a journalist or regular columnist for any publication?

Check out my weblog, dude! I need to find some time to post more regularly, but there's so MUCH material out there I kind of choke when I try to digest any of it.

Raging Bee   ·  May 25, 2005 11:30 AM

Damn, I threw in a [shameless plug] tag, and this page treated it as valid HTML that didn't do anything. Can't this blog handle irony?

Raging Bee   ·  May 25, 2005 11:32 AM

You have to write the links by hand. (At least, that's what I do.)

Thanks for the compliment, RB!

Eric Scheie   ·  May 25, 2005 2:35 PM

Around the block once more we shall go.

Raging Bee and David Neiwert both seem to hit on the most important 'pro' points of hate crimes legislation so I won't bother going over them.

I have hover worked extensively with the State of Maine Attorney General's office and have testified as a professional in a number of cases that were prosecuted as hate crimes. I work for the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence in America at the University of Southern Maine. http://www.usm.maine.edu/cphv for anyone who's interested in reading more about this.

It is important to understand too, and which no one here mentioned is that Hate Crimes legislation is NOT purely a criminal code, it also in fact more often than not contains civil components that allow a State or Federal Attorney to seek civil protections; such as restraining orders, cease and decist orders, or other injunctions against individuals or groups. In almost all of the cases that I worked with were there were persistant, misdermeaner offense, you said graffiti and cross burning, those both count. It is often enough for a civil injunction to stop future crimes.

As to address the deternate effect of hate crimes legislation. I am going to contradict myself here.. and point out one fact that few people have addressed.

In the cases I have been involved in here in Maine, heavy press coverage has followed high profile cases. Hate crimes of small nature (grafiti, cross burning, and defacing of churches) often recieve LARGE press coverage. The names of vicitims are NOT released, the names of alleged perpitrators ARE. I can assure you in communities where most of the violence happens there is often a 3 to 5 year lull where no hate crimes are reported directly following a hate crimes trial in that community.

That was the case for me in high school. After 3 boys recieved quick civil injunctions and a great deal of press coverage preceeding their criminal trials bigotry, and hatered I was recieving daily by other peers but not at the level of a 'hate crime'; ceased almost compeltely.

The civil branch of the statute allowed me to finish up my Sophmore year of highschool and gave me time (and proper grades) to transfer to a smaller, private academy where I could be better protected.

What I am bothered by this whole discussion and in fact almost ALL political discussions is the lack of personal experience people have with the REALITY of these laws. To speak ideologically about something that you have never experienced is in my opinion, the essence of true ignorance. That is why public hearings are held on such laws, and why trials involve witnesses. Political commentary all too often involves a lot of speaking heads who have never experienced the realities that are being discussed. Abortion, Welfare, Uninsured Americans, Poverty.. I could go on..

I want to reitterate my stance earlier.

Eric, I get that you consider a male-bodied person to be 'homosexual' if they engage in any type of 'acts' with another male-bodied person. Fine. I think you are seeing things black & white when they rarely are. That is the core of conservative thinking I realize (perhaps you don't wish to be labeled as such.. but it is the thought process that I am labeling); But this case and many others like it involves a much more expansive "Grey Area".

I do not consider people who consider themselves women who are attracted to men, homosexual. In fact, I find the terminology 'homosexual' to be sanitary, clinical, and prehistoric. "Gay" is the term that is commonly accepted (and I'm sure you HATE symantics and 'politically correct language, that is a debate for another day). But you sound like a dinasaur throwing 'homosexual' around, :barf:.

In this case I would use the word "Transgener" to describe Amancio, not "gay man". That is the term you used.. and I am quoting your article:

It's obvious to me from the picture that Mr. Corrales was a man, and I think you'd have to be a moron not to sense that.

Again I will come back to this. Amancio was NOT dressed as a man, and how you see a man, I don't know. But again, is it SO hard to use female pronouns? Gender is based on a lot more than your genitals. Your genitals do not determine how you will behave. I know plenty of female bodied people who are butch, male bodied people who are femme and so on.

I just don't understand your attachment to naming and claiming Ms. Corrales as a "man" and a 'gay man' at that. I don't see the point.

Anyhow, I digress.. great conversation. Thanks for the reply I appreciate it.

~Danielle Askini

Danielle Askini   ·  May 29, 2005 9:20 PM

Around the block once more we shall go.

Raging Bee and David Neiwert both seem to hit on the most important 'pro' points of hate crimes legislation so I won't bother going over them.

I have hover worked extensively with the State of Maine Attorney General's office and have testified as a professional in a number of cases that were prosecuted as hate crimes. I work for the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence in America at the University of Southern Maine. http://www.usm.maine.edu/cphv for anyone who's interested in reading more about this.

It is important to understand too, and which no one here mentioned is that Hate Crimes legislation is NOT purely a criminal code, it also in fact more often than not contains civil components that allow a State or Federal Attorney to seek civil protections; such as restraining orders, cease and desist orders, or other injunctions against individuals or groups. In almost all of the cases that I worked with were there were persistent, misdemeanor offense, you said graffiti and cross burning, those both count. It is often enough for a civil injunction to stop future crimes.

As to address the deterring effect of hate crimes legislation. I am going to contradict myself here.. and point out one fact that few people have addressed.

In the cases I have been involved in here in Maine, heavy press coverage has followed high profile cases. Hate crimes of small nature (graffiti, cross burning, and defacing of churches) often receive LARGE press coverage. The names of victims are NOT released, the names of alleged perpetrators ARE. I can assure you in communities where most of the violence happens there is often a 3 to 5 year lull where no hate crimes are reported directly following a hate crimes trial in that community.

That was the case for me in high school. After 3 boys received quick civil injunctions and a great deal of press coverage preceding their criminal trials bigotry, and hatred I was receiving daily by other peers but not at the level of a 'hate crime'; ceased almost completely.

The civil branch of the statute allowed me to finish up my Sophomore year of high school and gave me time (and proper grades) to transfer to a smaller, private academy where I could be better protected.

What I am bothered by this whole discussion and in fact almost ALL political discussions is the lack of personal experience people have with the REALITY of these laws. To speak ideologically about something that you have never experienced is in my opinion, the essence of true ignorance. That is why public hearings are held on such laws, and why trials involve witnesses. Political commentary all too often involves a lot of speaking heads who have never experienced the realities that are being discussed. Abortion, Welfare, Uninsured Americans, Poverty.. I could go on..

I want to reiterate my stance earlier.

Eric, I get that you consider a male-bodied person to be 'homosexual' if they engage in any type of 'acts' with another male-bodied person. Fine. I think you are seeing things black & white when they rarely are. That is the core of conservative thinking I realize (perhaps you don't wish to be labeled as such.. but it is the thought process that I am labeling); But this case and many others like it involves a much more expansive "Grey Area".

I do not consider people who consider themselves women who are attracted to men, homosexual. In fact, I find the terminology 'homosexual' to be sanitary, clinical, and prehistoric. "Gay" is the term that is commonly accepted (and I'm sure you HATE semantics and 'politically correct language, that is a debate for another day). But you sound like a dinosaur throwing 'homosexual' around, :barf:.

In this case I would use the word "Transgender" to describe Amancio, not "gay man". That is the term you used.. and I am quoting your article:

It's obvious to me from the picture that Mr. Corrales was a man, and I think you'd have to be a moron not to sense that.

Again I will come back to this. Amancio was NOT dressed as a man, and how you see a man, I don't know. But again, is it SO hard to use female pronouns? Gender is based on a lot more than your genitals. Your genitals do not determine how you will behave. I know plenty of female bodied people who are butch, male bodied people who are femme and so on.

I just don't understand your attachment to naming and claiming Ms. Corrales as a "man" and a 'gay man' at that. I don't see the point.

Anyhow, I digress.. great conversation. Thanks for the reply I appreciate it.

~Danielle Askini LSW

Danielle Askini   ·  May 29, 2005 9:22 PM

Thanks Danielle.

I hate to debate terminology, but I think it is fair to define men still possessed of penises as men. When men who have penises engage in sexual relations with men who have penises, I think it is fair to describe that sex as homosexual sex, perhaps gay sex. (I know it sounds clinical, but not all homosexuals call themselves gay.)

If it is true that Armancio Corrales worked as (and referred to himself as) a "female impersonator", and his friends use the male pronoun in describing him, I don't think I was all that out of line in doing the same. Whether he considered himself a gay man, I don't know.

Eric Scheie   ·  May 29, 2005 9:53 PM

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