Hate Crime Laws: Are They Constitutional? Essay

1553 Words 7 Pages
Are hate crime penalty enforcement laws constitutional?

“That’s Gay.” If you are around teenagers today, that is a phrase you will most likely hear very often. It is not necessarily meant as a homophobic or hate-filled remark, and most of the time it is referring to an object, an idea, or a conversation; things that obviously have no sexual orientation. But now, according to a bill passed by the senate, it could almost be considered a hate crime. Many people support the widening of hate crime laws, assuming that with stricter penalties, the crimes will lessen. In June, 2004, Senate passed a bill that received a record number of votes, passing 65-33, including 18 Republicans voting yes. The measure will add sexual orientation, gender and
…show more content…
According to FBI Uniform Crime reports, there were 30,606,332 crimes reported in 2003. So is it fair that 7,489 of them were treated with top-priority because of the person’s race, religion, or sexual orientation? The Southern Baptist Convention’s ethic agency doesn’t think so, and they’re doing their best to try to reverse the bill that widens hate crime laws. “Existing laws in every state cover real crimes of violence, vandalism and property destruction, which should be punished to the full extent of the law” they argue (Toalston). Others argue that the bill is simply redundant. "What is really being punished, as [critics] see it, is a criminal's thoughts, however objectionable they may be. The actions - incitement, vandalism, assault, murder - are already against the law" (Haberman).
For every group against the defining of hate crimes, there are twice as many groups who feel it is more than necessary. "Hate crimes are message crimes. They are different from other crimes in that the offender is sending a message to members of a certain group that they are unwelcome" (McDevitt). While the constitution promises us free speech, it doesn’t allow us to use that as a weapon to put certain groups in fear. As much as everybody has a right

Related Documents