Hate Crime and Punishment

A recent perversely funny story brought up the not so funny topic of hate crimes around the water cooler. One question that came up in particular is: Why is the punishment for hate crimes so much more severe than that for non-hate crimes? If someone is beaten to a pulp, does the reason really matter so much? Shouldn’t the attacker receive the same kind of punishment no matter what the motivation?

Well, no legal scholars were involved, but a little background reading on the subject produced this thoughtful quote from the University of Ottawa that everyone seems to agree on:

Because they are directed both at a group and an individual victim, hate crimes carry an element of harm that is not present in other kinds of offending.     — Julian V. Roberts (DJC)

While largely similar on hate crimes, Canadian law features a key difference from the US code, that is, hate speech is protected as free speech in the US but not in Canada. There are clearly good arguments on both sides: freedom vs. intimidation. Some of the older folks in our discussion, however, stated that over time they had moved from the youthful idealism of believing everyone should have their say to growing weary of morons spewing venom with regularity. Curtailing free speech should never be taken lightly but here it sure sounds like wisdom.

For more, see the CCJS Report, HateWatch, and Partners Against Hate.

1 Response to “Hate Crime and Punishment”


  1. 1 Joe Dawson

    ok here’s the thing, what is the punishment for hate crime?

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