Hate-crime laws, for no good reason

Hate-crime laws, for no good reason
The Chicago Tribune
Steve Chapman
June 20, 2004

Jesus of Nazareth warned his followers to beware “when all men speak well of you.” He knew that universal praise can hide a multitude of sins. That is certainly the case with the hate-crimes law passed the other day by the U.S. Senate, which shows that irreproachable impulses can yield bad policy.

The measure expands existing federal laws against “hate crimes” to include violent acts committed because of the victim’s “gender, sexual orientation, or disability.” This will enable federal law enforcement agents to go after criminals who single out gays, women or disabled people. The law is needed, says Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), because it “sends a signal that violence of any kind is unacceptable.”

Actually, existing criminal laws already do that. This one sends a signal that violence of certain kinds is especially unacceptable. Getting stomped to a pulp because you’re gay is somehow worse than getting stomped because you’re wearing a Red Sox jersey in the Bronx, or because someone resents your opinion of the war in Iraq.

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