Are Anti-Hate Laws Necessary?

Jenny McCartney, writing in England’s Daily Telegraph raises the question as to whether society requires anti-hate laws. The assumption behind having such laws is that certain behaviors or speech are deemed to require further punitive action against perpetrators. Ms. McCartney argues bores and those who utilize vulgarity in speech are all around us in our daily lives. If an individual begins to take action such as an incitement to violence against gays or blacks or women, there are existing laws to deal with such situations. According to the Home Office in England, a “hate crime” is defined as “any incident, which constitutes a criminal offence, which is perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by prejudice or hate.” A hate crime is usually triggered because of an individual’s skin color, sexual orientation, ethnicity or gender.

The issue of “hate crimes’ carrying more severe penalties than ordinary crimes raises many issues. A person who beats up gays most probably also physically attacks non-gays. It is more complex when a person is expressing verbal hatred because most people who hate George Bush do not pull punches when it comes to denouncing the president. Many simply hate the man. If we eliminate verbal attacks, there are presently laws on the books dealing with physical assault.

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