Intermountain Jewish News

Jul 24th

A hate crime’s circularity

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Does the designation “hate crime” and its enhanced penalty reduce crime? As we understand the logic behind the added legal designation, it is not primarily designed to reduce crime. Rather, it is designed to defend a certain populace because, supposedly, an entire populace, and not just an individual victim, is harmed by a “hate crime.” If, for example, a Jew is targeted because he is a Jew, then the entire Jewish populace is harmed by the crime. Hence, the designation and the enhanced penalty.

That there is no evidence that the designation “hate crime” reduces crime should be enough to put a stop to its use. Not to mention, the breakdown of the general populace into categories of people polarizes society, pitting one group against another. But leave that aside for the moment. Let us examine the claim that the designation “hate crime” protects a certain populace, above and beyond the prosecution of a hate-motivated criminal. Let us apply this rationale to the Kansas City shootings at the local JCC, which tragically left three people dead.

By designating this murder a hate crime, as the federal government has done, who becomes the protected populace? The Jews? But it was not Jews who were killed, nor these days,  should it be expected that an attack on a Jewish Community Center would necessarily target Jews, since JCCs around the country make a big deal out of welcoming non-Jews as members. Similarly, YMCAs make a big deal out of welcoming non-Christians. An attack on a YMCA would not necessarily target Christians.

Well, then, would the protected populace  at the Kansas City JCC be non-Jews? That surely is circular, since non-Jews constitute the great bulk of society. To designate them as the victim of a hate crime would rob the specificity of the designation of all meaning.

We reach the circularity, ineffectiveness — and unnecessary polarization — of the the designation. It should be repealed. It destroys e pluribus unum. It destroys the idea of one society. American has become a  patchwork of subsets. To be human is no longer good enough.

Copyright © 2014 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Last Updated ( Friday, 18 April 2014 01:37 )  

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