Homeless Hate Crimes

Andrew Sullivan observes, “The homeless become the latest politicized minority to have hate crime laws passed for them. Presumably, bias crimes can also be extended to home-owners – on the same lines as sexual orientation, race and religion. What a boondoggle.”

E.D. Kain retorts, “I’ve heard of (rare) cases where homeless are lit on fire or beaten, essentially just for being transients.  Something to keep in mind . . . .”

Wouldn’t it make more sense to pass laws making it illegal to beat people up or light them on fire?

Please follow and like us:
FILED UNDER: General, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. E.D. Kain says:

    I’m not really in favor of singling special groups out for protection, but I do think it matters if people are harmed or killed solely because they are hated by another group of people (rather than say for their wallet). At least it seems like it should. Like I say over at the League – I’m on the fence here. I just want to be persuaded properly.

    On that note, though, I think hate crimes are a lot like affirmative action – something I don’t support, but that served its purpose at one point in time.

  2. PD Shaw says:

    It is illegal to beat people up or light them on fire. These laws basically state that there are additional social ills from violence targeted towards certain groups. In those cases, the criminal penalty will be adjusted upwards.

    Let me ask this question. If during the period of Jim Crow, members of the Klan (or similar group) set out to injure African-Americans in order to put fear into other African-Americans, would it be wrong for a judge to use his discretion to put the sentence on the high-end due to the social costs?

    I think the answer is easy, given the history of race in this country (North and South). I think the answer is harder when we talk about groups in which violence and institutionalized discrimination are less generalized. And as the list gets longer, you leave the impression that some animals are more equal than others.

  3. William d'Inger says:

    I have always felt hate crime laws to be morally unsupportable because they place higher values on certain peoples’ welfare. If someone gets a lesser sentence for burning me to death because I’m not a politically favored victim, I consider that discrimination of the worst sort.

    It’s purely political and utterly unethical since these laws, especially in the U.S., specifically protect liberal political party constituents — Jews, gays, homeless, etc, — at the expense of the rest of the public.

  4. An Interested Party says:

    …since these laws…protect liberal political party constituents — Jews, gays, homeless…

    Fair is fair, let’s have some hate crime laws to protect the real victim in this country–the poor, embattled white man!

  5. William d'Inger says:

    Fair is fair, let’s have some hate crime laws to protect the real victim in this country–the poor, embattled white man!

    Snark, snark, snark, An Interested Party. Your sarcastic response proves my point. Liberals aren’t interested in fairness. They are only interested in buying the votes of their constituents by offering the promise of special treatment. It’s a disgusting practice, but it is oh so liberal.

  6. Triumph says:

    If during the period of Jim Crow,

    Don’t mention Crows! The king libbie, B. Hussein, is liable to name it an endangered species so as to further his environmentalist assault against capitalism.

  7. UlyssesUnbound says:

    Jews, gays, homeless, etc, — at the expense of the rest of the public.

    At the expense of the rest of the public? If you mean financially–that is the cost of making a law, prosecuting a criminal, etc.–I don’t see how hate crime laws entail a higher cost than any other law against violence.

    Other than that, what type of cost do you mean? Social cost? I’m a middle class white protestant straight male. I’ve never felt that I’ve been “billed” for hate crime laws. Do you mean equality and fairness under the law? That, as one person above put it, these people are now designated more equal…again how does this “cost” you anything? While I agree that its not exactly equitable that a white male who is burned to death is treated slightly less seriously than, say, a gay man, it really doesn’t “cost” you or society anything, does it?

    Or is it just that the idea of someone getting something under the law that you don’t have gets your knickers in such a bunch you have trouble sitting down?

  8. William d'Inger says:

    At the expense of the rest of the public?

    That would be the social cost to the rest of the public of a criminal’s marginal propensity to commit violence against non-privileged victims in expectation of a lighter penalty.

    Knickers in a bunch???

  9. hcantrall says:

    As if people would think twice about setting a homeless guy or a gay person on fire if the consequences were more steep. Whoever would do such a thing isn’t thinking about the consequences at all. They’re either insane or completely screwed up in the head. Laws are already in place, as others have mentioned, can’t we just leave it at that. Surely there are more important things to be hashed out than establishing certain groups as more valuable than others.

  10. UlyssesUnbound says:

    riminal’s marginal propensity

    Umm…que? Let’s just translate that beautiful phrase. Since I assume american vernacular was used, I’ll use merriam’s. So…”marginal”, or limited in extent, and “propensity” or full natural inclination.

    A criminals limited intense inclination to commit crimes? Reminds me of the time I ran an all-out, balls-to-the-wall restrained race. Or when I had that competently ineffectual employee under my command. I’ll be right back, my beer is empty full.

    And just to make sure, your thesis that murderers who would be inclined to kill a black person will realize that the penalty will be a bit harsher, so he kills a white person instead. Therefore, those laws are unjust, and need to be abolished. That way gays/blacks/hispanics/women/homeless can go back to being targeted. It’s the only way to protect us “non-privileged” members of society.

  11. Tlaloc says:

    Hate crimes are a poor idea. If a person commits a crime against another person due to them being, say, black that doesn’t impact the severity of the crime. What it does is increase the likelihood of recidivism (because they acted out of malice towards a group of people, rather than a specific individual).

    Therefor, rather than being a different designation of offense, such behavior should be weighed by the judge in determining the severity of punishment (length of sentence). Just like any number of other factors (remorse, state of mind, etc) that help diagnose if the offender is likely to commit the same crime again.

  12. G.A.Phillips says:

    Fair is fair, let’s have some hate crime laws to protect the real victim in this country–the poor, embattled white man!

    lol, how about people who understand the Constitution?

  13. G.A.Phillips says:

    And just to make sure, your thesis that murderers who would be inclined to kill a black person will realize that the penalty will be a bit harsher, so he kills a white person instead. Therefore, those laws are unjust, and need to be abolished. That way gays/blacks/hispanics/women/homeless can go back to being targeted. It’s the only way to protect us “non-privileged” members of society

    .
    So every time a peace of scat liberal says it’s good to murder children(1 out of every two black babies)because we as a society can’t afford to take care of them the racist bastards should be charged with a hate crime, I’m all for that!