Hate crimes should not be punished differently than other crimes. The actual crime should be punished, not the reasoning behind it. The idea of punishing crimes differently based on victims might make some people or groups feel that others are more protected or valued than they are. The concept of punishing crimes differently because of motive is senseless, unnecessary, and an injustice.
Again, the actual crime should be punished not the reasoning behind it. “Murder is murder, robbery is robbery, rape is rape, a gang attack is a gang attack, and premeditated murder is premeditated murder”, regardless of motive (Staff Editorial 1). For example, Person A and Person B both assault innocent people. But while beating the life out of his victim, Person B calls him a “Nigger.” His crime is considered a hate crime. Consequently, his crime will receive harsher punishment. Despite why the crime took place, the point is that a crime took place. No matter why the victim is chosen, “he or she was still harmed, the family is still going to grieve, and someone must be punished” (Staff editorial 1). Whether a person is killed for money or drugs or out of hate or prejudice, the fact still remains that he or she has been killed. With hate crime laws, the hate is being looked at, more so than the crime itself. Even though hate is a terrible thing to have in your heart, all Americans have the right to hate whatever or who ever they want (Hudson 1). Besides, if officials start punishing hate or unholy thoughts, they might as well make a new category of crime- thought crime. If this line of thinking were acted upon, then half of America would be behind bars.
As stated above, the idea of punishing crimes differently based on the victim might make some people or groups feel as if others are more protected or valued than they are. This whole concept is hypocritical. If all Americans are to be created and treated equally under the law, then why, if killed, are some worth 50 years in prison and others worth life? Punishments should be the same regardless of what group committed what crime against whatever group or why. Officials should set standard punishments for specific crimes and those laws should be followed despite motive. Additionally, giving harsher punishment to certain people because of whom they killed or why will add fuel to the argument made by those who think that some are receiving extra protection or preferential treatment. This type of ruling is a slap in the face, or insult, to victims of crimes not considered hate crimes, by implying that victims of hate crimes are worth more (Reese 1). This would also “make racist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan angrier and could create more crime” (Leo 1). This would be doing more harm than good.
Thirdly, the whole concept of punishing crimes differently because of motive is senseless, unnecessary, and an injustice. The act of increasing punishment for hate-motivated crimes is focusing on crimes that are already illegal (Reese 1). Thinking about a crime and executing it is already considered a crime in itself. This is called first degree murder. The convict is actually being punished twice, which is unjust. This concept is also unjust because the Constitution says that everyone has the right to a fair trial. Criminals can be prosecuted for multiple charges, but hate should never be one of them. In many cases, the maximum penalty for a crime is death. If the same crime were a hate crime, lawyers would want to increase the punishment. However, the death penalty cannot be worsened. This senseless concepts should have been more thought out. Also, officials are in favor of this type of punishment because it is said to have a deterrent effect. Meaning that, if criminals know that these laws exist criminals will think twice about committing a crime. But lawmakers failed to see that this is the point of any law. Look at how much crime this country has. That is part of the reason why many states reinstated the death penalty-because people were supposed to think twice about committing crimes. Obviously, these laws are not doing their job. The government reported 97 executions this year alone, up from 68 in 1998 and 74 executions in 1997 (Johnson 1). Officials should rethink their strategies. If laws already exist for a certain crime, regardless of whether or not it is a hate crime, then those laws should be used. Laws should not be changed to fit individual situations.
In conclusion, hate crimes should be punished no differently than other crimes. The effects are the same. The crime is basically the same. The family experiences the same trauma and the punishment should be the same.