Hate Crime Laws

By [email protected]


Hate crime legislation helps prosecutors do their job, but it does not create any protected classes or special rights, as Julie Wald suggested in her letter to the editor (&End Hate by Introspection, Not Force&) when comparing hate crime legislation to &&the legislation we have against bias when hiring.& Hate crime laws and anti-discrimination laws are very different in nature.

Affirmative action laws, like the laws Ms. Wald referred to in her letter, do create certain classes of people. Hate crime laws do not. In fact this year&s legislation explicitly says otherwise. As the legislation reads, &This section does not create any legal status or right not already in existence in statute or common law for a group or a member of a group (HB 68 8211; Criminal Penalty Amendment, lines 61 and 62).

I agree with Ms. Wald that &Perhaps instead of trying to promote legislation for people to love instead of hate, we would be more effective to individually promote and demonstrate letting go of hate and choosing something better.& However, I wonder if the boy Mr. Mitchell attacked based on his race would feel safer know that Mr. Mitchell was introspective while he beat him to a bloody pulp. The boy Mr. Mitchell attacked was the first Caucasian kid Mr. Mitchell and his African American friends saw after discussing a scene from &Mississippi Burning.& According to the Supreme Court&s decision in this case, &As the boy walked by, Mitchell said: &You all want to fuck somebody up? There goes a white boy; go get him.&& (Mitchell v. Wisconsin, 1993 Supreme Court ruling).

Hate crime laws allowed the prosecutors in the Mitchell case to enhance the penalties the African American attackers received for beating the boy. The boy Mitchell attacked received no special treatment or rights because of the hate crime law.