I'm not generally in favor of adding new laws. In fact, almost my whole campaign is based on the fact that there are already way too many laws governing aspects of our lives that should not be governed by anyone but ourselves and that (aside from being contrary to the idea of personal liberty) most laws are either pointless due to their lack of enforcement or their enforcement takes away from our ability to defend citizens against real crimes... specifically crimes of violence, such as many hate crimes.
I FULLY understand why people are in favor of hate crime legislation. These are the ugliest of crimes. I don't understand how people could have so much bigoted hate in their hearts that they could commit horrible acts of violence. I don't even understand how someone could spray paint a swastika AND mean it, but it happens every day. It’s horrible and disgusting and it makes me so angry that I really want to give in to my urge for vengeance. But is vengeance what we’re aiming at with legislation? Shouldn’t we be aiming at creating less violence and more safety, tolerance, and acceptance? Shouldn’t the end goal be to produce fewer hate groups/members? That is certainly my goal, but I’m not convinced that hate crime legislation accomplishes that. But again, if the goal is vengeance, then hate crime legislation sure looks like a great success. If the goal is creating more hate, then hate crime legislation may be the right course of action.
As gay activist Bill Dobbs put it: “Seeking another pound of flesh has us veering toward vengeance rather than justice.”
New York University law professor James Jacobs put it this way: “Sending more people to prison for longer is hardly likely to contribute to a more tolerant society. To the contrary, jails and prisons are breeding grounds for hate groups.”
If we want to rehabilitate people… if we want to reduce the number of people who belong to hate groups or harbor those feelings or commit those actions, sending them into the belly of the beast where their prejudices can be affirmed and where they’ll simultaneously get bitter as hell AND tough as nails, is probably not going to accomplish that. In all likelihood, we’re making the problem worse and the offenders stronger.
So to me, what is important is that we get rid of victimless crimes so that we can allocate resources to reducing or eradicating violent crime, whatever the motivation. To me, crimes of force and crimes of fraud are the only crimes that should even exist and failed drug war policies that ruin the lives of real people and disproportionately impact minorities are the biggest fish to fry when it comes to improving the lives of minority citizens and society at large.
Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps hate crime legislation is working to deter crime and rehabilitate offenders, but I can’t seem to find data to bear that out. If the people of District 59 were to choose to hire me for the position of representing them in state congress, I would consider voting in favor of a hate crime bill if it met my criteria for voting “Yes” on any legislation, and those are:
1: The bill author/sponsor could cite peer-reviewed data that empirically proved the effectiveness of similar legislation elsewhere, AND gave ample time to the General Assembly to review the findings.
2: The bill author/sponsor conducted an Unintended Consequences Analysis on the proposal, showing that they have considered any potential failures or shortcomings in the legislation, as well as brainstormed negative ripple effects that could occur if it were to be enacted. A part of this analysis would be to recommend preventative measures to keep those unintended consequences / negative ripple effects from occurring and reaction plans for how to address them should they occur despite the best efforts to prevent them.
I wish these issues were as simple as “let’s make a law” but if we really want to see our society change for the better, then we have to guide ourselves and our government with clear and calm heads and let data and principle guide our decision making, not raw emotion… no matter how absolutely justified that emotion is.
All the best,