Should hate crimes be punished more severely than crimes motivated by greed, anger, or revenge?

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The Supreme Court has ruled that while hate speech is protected under the First Amendment, speech that threatens people directly is not protected (see the source below). Therefore, an act that threatens someone directly because of that person's race, gender, sexual preference or identity, religion, beliefs, or other characteristic, should be punished more severely under the law.

In addition, punishing hate crimes is beneficial to society as a whole. Punishing hate crimes protects the rights of Americans to express their identities and beliefs without fear. It's clear that the United States is still plagued by bias and intolerance toward people of different religions, races, beliefs, and sexual preferences, and identities. The law should defend the right of all people to live freely and without fear in the United States.

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Hate crimes are punished more severely than other crimes. It's interesting if you think about it. The legal code, or society, seems to have agreed that crimes motivated by hate are worse than every other kind, because we are not accepting of hate. Not a bad idea.
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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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