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February 22, 2005

Comments

Dennis

I won't argue that this guy is a bonehead, but I must agree that further legislation would be pointless. Let me start by saying that passing more laws is not the answer. If you killed a gay person wouldn't the death penalty be enough? How would adding more time be of any use? Same applies to beating the shit out of somebody there are existing laws to punish you for that. The reason behind the act is of no interest to the legal system, you should be punshed according to the severity of the crime. Let's use the laws that are already on the books, and not look to pacify a group because they are the squeeky wheel. Strict enforcement of existing laws should do the trick. Enough said, I'll surrender the soap box to the next person. Keep up the good work my friend for we all know without voices like yours ours would never be heard.

Dennis

Wulfgar

Dennis, your argument is the rational one I would have expected from our legislators. I don't necessarily agree, but at least it makes sense. I'm also certain that many Montana Reps who voted against this did so based on that idea. Kudos to them. That's voting on policy. I'm just having a growing difficulty with all the voting based on party affiliation, or worse yet, Sinrud's stupid paranoia.

Rocky Smith

I am totally opposed to "Hate Crimes Legislation". There should be no extra penalty for killing or hurting someone because he is a gay, or a jew, or a black, or a hairlip or whatever designation you want to use. To say that it is a hate crime in the first place is ludicrous. Anyone who kills or hurts someone surely didn't do it out of love. I agree that they should be fully punished under existing law. Those penalties should be enough. If not, then stiffen the penalty for EVERYONE. Adding further punishment is only "feel good" legislation. Isn't there a guarantee of equal protection under the law in this country? Why should it be a bigger crime to kill a gay man than it would to kill a straight man? If we want true equality in this nation, we must start treating everyone equally. No job preferences, no extra penalties for crimes against minorities, no acceptance of prejudices of ANY kind.

Partisan obstructionism? BOTH parties are guilty of that one. No Republican legislator in Montana originated it. It has been done by both sides for many decades. Tom Daschle of S. D. was a master of it. That's why he's now a private citizen. We need to watch ALL legislators closely and vote them out if they start worrying about what the party wants or needs before they think of we who elected them. This problem is one reason I thought TERM LIMITS wasn't such a bad idea.

And why is it assumed that if you beat up a gay guy that you are a Christian? My church doesn't teach anything approaching gay bashing. Does yours? Can you be a Muslim and still hate gays? Lumping people into big groups is a MISTAKE. Hasty generalizations soon follow.

Jeff

Hate crimes are more severe crimes, so they warrant greater punishment. Just think about it; someone vandalizing a store with graffiti is one thing, someone vandalizing a Jewish owned store with Nazi graffiti is something different. The crime terrorizes a segment of the population; hate crimes laws are similar to anti-terrorism laws: there's an element of coercion and intimidation beyond just the actual act.

"Why should it be a bigger crime to kill a gay man than it would to kill a straight man?"

Hate crimes don't really do that. If you're assaulted by a homosexual for being a heterosexual it's a hate crime with the same punishments as if it were the other way around.

"no extra penalties for crimes against minorities"

Kind of the same thing as above, hate crimes don't do this at all. If you're killed for being white, it's a hate crime just as if you're killed for being black.

Wulfgar

And why is it assumed that if you beat up a gay guy that you are a Christian? My church doesn't teach anything approaching gay bashing. Does yours? Can you be a Muslim and still hate gays? Lumping people into big groups is a MISTAKE. Hasty generalizations soon follow.

Rocky, nobody here made that assumption. My ill will towards Sinrud is very much because he is a hypocrite to his professed religion, personally, and without generalization. I made no indictment whatsoever against Christianity. Nor would I.

Rocky Smith

I can see your point about terrorizing a segment of the population, but giving special protection to certain groups will only cause more anger and perpetuate the hate. Make the penalty stiff enough to properly punish the crime- no matter what the motivation was. I re-state the concept of equal protection under the law. People hate each other for many reasons. All crimes against people require punishment and I don't see how you can reasonably mark one group for stronger protection over another. Don't you see how that will further anger one group? It makes you feel better though, doesn't it? I doubt a minority group member would ever be prosecuted for a hate crime against a member of a more mainstream (common or majority) member of the population. I also doubt you can ever reasonably prove people's motives for the crimes they commit. If my wife starts cheating on me with a black man, I'm probably not going to like him much. It isn't racially motivated, but can you know for sure?

Wulfgar

I am, personally, very uneasy about my support for hate crime legislation for exactly the reasons you bring up, Rocky. If only our legislators were willing to argue on those grounds ... or, perhaps, if our press was willing to report such opposition.

Jeff

Like I said, there's no special protection. Absolutely none. Anyone can be the victim of a hate crime and anyone can commit a hate crime. I fail to see the special protection in that.

"I doubt a minority group member would ever be prosecuted for a hate crime against a member of a more mainstream (common or majority) member of the population."

The FBI doesn't keep hate crime-type statistics for prosecutions that I can find, so I can't any actual numbers other than reported hate crimes. There are plenty of anti-white crimes reported.

However, Wisconsin v. Mitchell, which is from what I can gather the definitive Supreme Court case on hate crimes, involves a black man committing an anti-white hate crime.

"I also doubt you can ever reasonably prove people's motives for the crimes they commit. If my wife starts cheating on me with a black man, I'm probably not going to like him much. It isn't racially motivated, but can you know for sure?"

Can you really know for sure about any crime? It is difficult to prove, but we have juries to decide that for us. Again, stats are hard to come by for conviction rates, but California hovers around 50%, so I would guess 40-50% for the country overall.

Kate S.

Without getting into the minutia of the legislation (I am a long-time donor to and advocate of the Southern Poverty Law Center, just to show you where I stand,) I would like to address your observation about state partisanship -- I see it here, like never before. It started before this last election but after the Man Date our fate was sealed: Republican Good, Democrat BAD and it's like a game of cat and mouse for these folks on the hill anymore, the Repubs like to tease, to play, to maul, then finally eat their prey.

There must have been a White House Memo passed down to the state capitol buildings or something. "Point, laugh, snear, snicker, slap, smakc and generally make fun of anything that comes out of a Democrat's mouth -- and then eat them."

John Holmes

I found your Blog while looking into John Sinrud. The first time I ever met him he said something boneheaded, so I was delighted to find someone else who shared my opinion. However...

I might have to agree with him on this hate crime business. In the last 40 years we've gone crazy over political correctness, out of which have come all these PC laws. I don't want to be a partisan for hate crimes, but I don't want to criminalize hate. For easy example, I HATE George W. Bush, Rumsfeld, and several others -- and I don't want to go to jail for it.

I hate to admit it, pun, but I think Mr. Sinrud might actually have been on the right track with his free speech issue. Nationally, as I'm sure you know, we've also criminalized several forms of Hate Speech, which presumably is one of the hate crimes Mr. Sinrud is worried about.

Hate speech? If you think about it, the reason for free speech is so people can express hateful ideas (at least hateful to someone), hence the need for this important freedom. To our founding fathers, criminalizing someone for speaking his mind was worse than letting him say it. Hate is part of the marketplace of ideas, and we have to trust the market to take care of bad ideas.

But that said, go ahead and bash Mr. Sinrud all you like. He probably got lucky with his one good idea, but whatever the reason, thanks to people like him remembering the Bill of Rights, we can hate him at will and not go to jail for it.

Fortunately I don't think we have to worry about this guy. I see that he's associated with 21 bills, none of which have passed. So he seems to be as ineffectual as he is boneheaded. Good combination.

John

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