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

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Opinions on this topic may vary, but hate crimes should not necessarily be punished more severely than crimes motivated by other factors. The first and most important factor to be considered is the severity of the crime and the impact of the crime on its victims.

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Honestly, I do think hate crimes are terrible. All crimes are bad, but the motives for hate crimes are specific to targeting a person because that person is a member of a specific group, and these people are likely to confine the pattern if they are allowed to do so.
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There are several reasons why hate crimes should be punished more severely than crimes based on anger or revenge. First, crimes based on revenge or anger are understandable. I am not suggesting that crimes based on revenge or anger are acceptable, nor am I condoning these crimes. All I am stating is that these crimes are "reasonable" in a sense. Let me explain. If someone steals your money and hurts someone you love, you will be angry for certain. Now if you act on this anger and seek revenge by beating this person up and take his or her money in return, then it is understandable. In other words, I can see why a person would act this way.

When we come to hate crimes, there is little to understand. It is the height of foolishness to hate a certain category of people monolithically. People are individuals; not all people are the same.

Moreover, if hate crimes are not dealt with in a severe and swift fashion, the potential for greater crimes can be right around the corner. Think of genocide.

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This is, of course, a matter of opinion.  I do believe that there should be extra punishment for hate crimes because they are more likely to damage the entire basis of our society.

Other crimes are committed on a much more individual basis.  A revenge crime, for example, is done specifically because of some problem between the two individuals involved.  These crimes happen because of factors related to the indviduals involved.  The idea that individuals could hate one another does not erode the very foundations of our society.

By contrast, hate crimes are motivated by ideas that do eat at the basis of our society.  Our society is predicated on the idea that all people are equal.  When you commit a crime that is done specifically because you do not believe that another group of people is equal to you, you are attacking the very basis of our society in a very serious way.

Therefore, hate crimes are more dangerous to our society as a whole than crimes that are motivated by more individual factors.

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Is hate a more heinous motivation for a crime than revenge?

I assume that you are asking this question in connection to the idea of hate crimes as a separate type of crime that is punished more severely than “regular” crimes.  If so, it is clearly possible to argue that hate is a more heinous motivation and one that is more damaging to society as a whole.

One of the bad things about crimes is that they can tear at the social fabric of a society.  Society needs to guard against crimes to avoid being pulled apart.  The problem with hate crimes is that they pull harder at the fabric of society than crimes of revenge do.  Of course, if we allowed revenge crimes to go unpunished, society would be harmed.  But revenge is a purely personal motive.  Not that many people will tend to feel the need for revenge so keenly as to harm another person.  In addition, if my neighbor assaults someone out of revenge, it is not likely to impact me very much.

By contrast, hate crimes are not done out of personal animus.  Instead, they are done out of hatred for a particular group of people.  This is much more damaging to society.  It implies that people of different types cannot live together peacefully.  This is very dangerous to society.  In addition, hate crimes have the potential to spread.  If my neighbor assaults someone else who is of my race or my religion out of hate it does have an impact on me.  It makes me feel much less safe.  It also makes more generalized racial or religious conflict more likely to occur.

Hate may or may not be more heinous in moral terms, but it is more dangerous to society than revenge.

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

First things first: let us define what a hate crime is. The generally accepted definition is that, as the name implies, a hate crime is motivated by hatred. This hatred can be on the basis of skin color, sexual orientation, or religion, to provide a few examples.

I would argue that, as the old saying goes, the punishment should fit the crime. Whether somebody is murdered because he is homosexual or because someone wanted his wallet, the end result is still the same: a life is ended unnecessarily and brutally, and a family must spend the rest of their lives mourning their loved one. The motivation of the crime does not change the end result.

To provide another way of looking at this, I will provide two different scenarios.

Consider, firstly, a hate crime which is comparatively minor. A man sees two men kissing in a car and uses a rock to smash the back window of a car. Neither man is injured, and the only damage done is to the vehicle. While this is a hate crime, it is certainly not worthy of the death penalty or life imprisonment.

Then consider, on the other hand, a woman who is raped by a man for no reason other than that he had an urge to do so. Both rapist and victim are from the same ethnic group. While it is not a hate crime, this is far more hateful and barbaric than the actions of the man who smashed the car window. In this instance, it could certainly be argued that the perpetrator deserves life imprisonment.

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Should hate crimes get harsher punishments?Should hate crimes get harsher punishments because hate is a more heinous motivation than revenge?

I don't agree with the hate crime designation. In my opinion, a sin is a sin is a sin. If someone murders someone else, it should not matter how he did it. If he did it, he should receive the penalty of a murderer. If we want to use a lesser example as an object lesson...consider the high school student. Let's pretend a paper is due on a certain day. The assignment has been out there for a month, and the students were forewarned of the consequences if they didn't complete the assignment on time. Two students were not ready to turn in their papers. One didn't turn the paper in because he hates you and he says so loudly and disrespectfully in front of the whole class. The  other was simply lazy and didn't do it.

Do you give the hateful student a different 0 than the lazy one? True, you might send him to the office or give him a detention for the behavior, but as far as the action of not completing the paper goes...they both get zeros...end of story.

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Should hate crimes get harsher punishments?Should hate crimes get harsher punishments because hate is a more heinous motivation than revenge?

Often, hate crimes receive harsher punishments because they are particularly heinous. We as citizens should find it repugnant when someone is harmed simply because of who or what they are. It is a horrific injustice. Motive can be hard to prove and I agree that the hate crime statutes are often missused. I think they were designed to draw attention to these particular crimes and set the precedent that they were absolutely unacceptable. Should a man who killed his ex-wife out of anger receive the same punishment as a neo-nazi who killed a stranger just for being jewish? Perhaps the hate crime statutes were designed to stop a particularly vigelent criminal. The man who killed his ex-wife isn't likely to kill anyone else, but the neo-nazi is.
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Should hate crimes get harsher punishments?Should hate crimes get harsher punishments because hate is a more heinous motivation than revenge?

In today's hypersensitive world, hate crimes are at the forefront. It feels to me as if it does not always take much to warrant a hate crime lawsuit. Hate crimes are inexcusable and offenders should be punished to the fullest extent of the law--but not beyond it.

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Should hate crimes get harsher punishments?Should hate crimes get harsher punishments because hate is a more heinous motivation than revenge?

I don't think hate crimes should get harsher sentences, because this asks the judge to ascertain a person's motivations. In some cases, this may be obvious but in others it may not be and the decision the judge makes is much more subjective then in other types of cases and an impossible one to discern using the evidence alone. Peering into the minds of criminals is a very hard thing to do, and cases should be decided on the evidence alone.

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Should hate crimes get harsher punishments?Should hate crimes get harsher punishments because hate is a more heinous motivation than revenge?

There is no question that hate crimes should be punished more severely. Those who commit crimes may be motivated by a number of factors; desperation, addiction, revenge, rages, etc. Hate crimes meet the very essence of a cold blooded crime. They are committed with malice aforethought with no purpose other than to harm the victim; there is normally no relationship between the perpetrator and the victim; and they are evil personified. I can think of few instances in which society should voice its outrage more loudly and clearly than towards those who commit hate crimes. I have heard no one defend the Nazi's for their crimes against the Jews. Pray tell what is the difference in their crimes and those committed in this country, other than magnitude?

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Should hate crimes get harsher punishments?Should hate crimes get harsher punishments because hate is a more heinous motivation than revenge?

While I am, of course, as outraged as anyone about hate crimes, I think legally the issue is problematic.  First, it is difficult to prove that a crime is solely or even mostly motivated by hatred, as "hate" is difficult to legally define.  Sort of like the Supreme Court ruling about obscenity, hard to define, but we think we know it when we see it.  That's pretty abstract to apply legal codes and sentencing guidelines to.

Secondly, the tolerance for hate and hate crimes has been and is different from state to state and region to region.  For a very long time it was almost impossible to convict a white person for crimes committed against blacks in former slave states.  In the eyes of the law, and the various state bodies of law, the definition of hate is subjective and unevenly applied.

I tend to come down on the side of 1st degree murder being 1st degree murder, and not 1st degree murder with a hate qualifier attached.  The crimes are equally horrible, whatever their motives, and to me, equally punishable.

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Should hate crimes get harsher punishments?Should hate crimes get harsher punishments because hate is a more heinous motivation than revenge?

Hate crimes usually get harsher punishments because of the outage associated with them. When a crime is committed for a mundane reason like money, jealousy or revenge, people are angry but accept it as human nature. Hate crimes make people very upset. The idea of targeting someone because they belong to a certain group frightens and infuriates people. Thus the hate crimes enhancement.
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Should hate crimes get harsher punishments?Should hate crimes get harsher punishments because hate is a more heinous motivation than revenge?

On an individual level, I do think that revenge is a less heinous motive than hate (if we are talking about racial hate or hate based on sexual orientation).  The reason for this is that revenge is (by definition) a motive that has a basis.  If you want revenge on someone, they have actually done something bad to you.  Hate, on the other hand, has no reason behind it.  It is simply caused by prejudice and bigotry.  When someone has done something to you, it is understandable if you want to get back at them.  This means that revenge, while wrong, is not that heinous of a motive.  If you commit a crime based solely on some unreasoned prejudice, it is not understandable.  This means that hate is a more heinous motive.

So, if the severity of punishment for a crime should be based on the heinousness of the motive for the crime, hate crimes should be punished more harshly because hate is a more heinous motive than revenge.

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Should hate crimes get harsher punishments?Should hate crimes get harsher punishments because hate is a more heinous motivation than revenge?

That is a matter of personal opinion. However, pre-meditation is what switches one crime from Manslaughter to Murder One in a court of law. As we know, most hate crimes are inevitably pre-meditated because there is already bias and prejudice implanted in the heart of the perpetrator, making it quite obvious that the malice and intention are ever-present.

However, it is a good thing that pre-meditation is an important element for an accusation because that way it is certain that the person committing the hate crime WILL get the harsher punishment as malice can be proved in the behaviors and patterns of action of the criminal.

If we could choose which crime should get the harsher punishment, I think that any crime directed toward any innocent person: children, by-standers, the elderly, women, innocent men, GLBT, or people who are ill and cannot defend themselves should get the harshest of punishments available in modern law.

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