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I’m physically and mentally exhausted. This past week has been full of long, painful, and pointless debates. I have spent many hours on the social media sites debating issue after issue with individuals that have views other than my own. For instance, initially I had promised myself that I would stay out of the George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin discussions after the verdict. I managed to stay quiet for a while but I was eventually sucked in by the ridiculous statements, calls to violence, and the many other memes that I saw. I wish I could have applied the principles from the article I read here about not arguing with idiots, but I got sucked in.
So here we are, I’m about six friends lighter on Facebook due to their inability to intelligently debate a topic that we didn’t agree on. One point that came up often that I wanted to briefly discuss is the term “hate crime”. I believe that the term “hate crime” is one of the most ridiculous terms that has ever been created into law. It is a term that unfairly categorizes anyone that is not addressed by a racial slur or otherwise demeaning term as “less important”. For instance, let’s examine fictitious cases 1 and 2 below.
Case 1 (Latino on Latino crime):
Papo is pissed off because Juan is dating his ex girlfriend Adelia. One day Papo bumps into Juan and asks him, “Juan is it true that you hooked up with my girl Adelia”. Juan says “Yeah, man, you guys have been through for about five years. Also, it’s not like you and I were ever friends”.
Papo becomes furious, he takes out a gun and shoots Juan point blank in the head. He says “You are right, we are not friends so I don’t feel too bad putting a bullet between your eyes, Juan. I’ll see you in hell.”
Papo takes off running and remains a free man to this day. The police may investigate this for a little while, but odds are that they won’t find anything. The media may or may not report on this story, but if they do, they’ll say something like this “a Latino male was killed by another Latino male. And now for today’s top story, let’s meet the iguana named Johnny.”
Summary: Papo killed Juan with a gun for dating his ex girlfriend.
Case 2 (Latino on Black crime using a racial slur):
Roberto is pissed off that Deshaun is dating his ex girlfriend Maria. They are not friends and have no relationship at all.
For some reason, in Roberto’s family they don’t hold black people in high esteem. Roberto’s friends are also making fun of him because the woman that he loved is now with a “moreno” (that’s Spanish for Black). One day Roberto bumps into Deshaun, he says “Yo, Dee, you know you are with my girl?”. Deshaun laughs and says “You guys have been broken up for over five years man, she’s not your girl anymore. Besides, once you go black, you never go back. She is my girl now.”
Roberto takes out a knife and he stabs Deshaun in the throat while saying, “My girlfriend isn’t going to be going black with you anymore. You freaking monkey!”
The police investigate this as a possible “hate crime”. The story gets to the media that a Latino killed a black guy and called him a monkey in the process.
When they hear about this story the media will kick the Iguana story to the curb! They will be all over this “hate crime” story, they will play up the racial slur, they will say that it was a race based attack, they will quote civil rights leaders and they will completely downplay and ignore the part about him being a psychotic, jealous ex- boyfriend.
Summary: Roberto killed Deshaun with a knife for dating his ex girlfriend. In the process he called Deshaun a “monkey”.
What’s the difference?
Now these stories are more or less exactly the same, except that Roberto didn’t like Deshaun for multiple reasons, the major reason is that he was sleeping with his ex-girlfriend. Now the law and the media would have you believe that because Roberto used the word “monkey” when addressing Deshaun, that this was a hate crime while the other was not.
Based on this comparison, can you see why I find this term ridiculous? Papo reacted the same way as Roberto and they both ended up killing someone. In fact, Papo used a gun to kill Juan, which in theory should carry more prison time based on gun laws.
I have never subscribed to the term “hate crime”, I think all crime is a “hate crime”, or all crime is not a “hate crime”. You cannot prioritize any one group over another because you think they are at a higher risk. If that were the case with all the rapists and child molesters, then pedophiles should be serving stiffer sentences because they actually target a specific group. One of the most defenseless and vulnerable groups, young children. The logic behind the term and it’s use is not acceptable by me. I have never bought it and I never will. Crime is crime and should be punished at the highest level regardless of the “cause” behind it.
My two fictitious scenarios above ended up with young men dead in both instances. Why is one more important than the other based on the fact that one of the killers happens to be racist? If the racist will get 20 years for using the word “monkey”, then the first guy should also get 20 years. The maximum time should be given to both, regardless of their personal beliefs.
I do not approve of the term “hate crime”. Crime is crime. What are your thoughts on the matter?
Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/81043308@N00/7300866082/; author: Takver; Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license
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