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This should be moved to the Social Sciences Discussion Forum - you will collect lots of opinions and reactions from the folks there, I'm sure!
My immediate reaction is to think that the type of crime should not be necessarily directly related to the severity of the punishment. I would define painting racist graffiti on someone's property a hate crime. I would not suggest that such an action should go unpunished, but it should not be treated as a more significant crime than, for example, a murder motivated by the greed of those selling drugs.
The motivation behind the crime may or may not play a role in determining the severity of the punishment, but the type of crime and its impact should be evaluated regardless of that motivation.
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