Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Bachmann or King?

All right, quick poll, who's crazier, Michelle Bachmann (R-Looney) or Steve King (R-Nutso)? Bachmann is the obvious answer, but King has been making a move lately with episodes like this one.

Feel free to link to various examples in the comments.


Raised By Republicans said...

King seems to imagine that hate groups work like this..."Gee, I'd really like hate someone but who? I can't hate racial minorities, women or gay people because of the hate crimes legislation. I know I'll hate old white Republicans!" It's like he's trying to apply his c- business major view of market forces to hate crimes. Give me a break!

My view is that the hate crimes legislation is not there to pile on prosecutions on murderers who are otherwise being prosecuted for murder. It is there as a check against local courts letting murderers off scot free as has been frequently the case with murders by the KKK and other hate groups (or less organized hate filled types... hate entrepreneurs if you will). Its there so that when Southern (or any other redneck locale) prosecutors refuse to charge or redneck juries acquit KKK guys who were caught red handed, there is a grounds for initiating a federal prosecution.

What this really is for King (I suspect) is a states/local government rights issue. He wants to preserve his home town's right not to prosecute some good old boy who murders a gay man "because he came on to me" (the defense raised that case in Wyoming). The problem with that is he knows he'd be roasted alive for making such an argument.

Anonymous said...

People actually vote for these people? vote is the electorate is the crazier.

Dr. Strangelove said...

As I understand it, "hate crimes" laws do not really create a new category of crime--they just allow the prosecution to count hatred of homosexuals as an aggravating factor if it was the motivation for the underlying crime.

In fact, I believe the victim of the underlying crime need not even be gay. The victim could be a straight person who campaigns for gay rights, or someone whom the perpetrator mistakenly believed was gay. What matters is the motivation. A gay man has no more protection from ordinary assault or robbery than anyone else. Mr. King is simply wrong when he says this creates a "special shield" for gay people. It tries to shield us all, equally, from the worst aspects of such hatred.

As RbR indicates, what made the Matthew Shepard case so important is that hatred of homosexuals was offered by the defense as a mitigating factor! Think about that.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Hate Crime legislation raises a whole host of interesting issues to me. It is unusual in criminal law to focus on motive (except in a narrow sense of whether a person who lacks motive to kill is likely to be guilty). Usually we talk about the criminal act (actus reus) and the mental state (mens rea) to commit that act. The mental state at issue is the intent to commit the act, not the motive behind committing it.

Most of the time, motive isn't a mitigating factor. While a person who kills his wife's lover in a fit of pique is likely to get a mititgating factor applied, that's because of a "heat of passion" defense - the idea that one is not cogitating properly. The same defense would not apply if he carefully planned the murder.

So Hate Crimes are distinct in that criminal acts are punished differently not according to the level of intention of the accused to commit the act, but according to his motive for committing the intentional act.

This troubles people. Are you in fact punishing people for their thoughts? Why should a black man who beats up his black neighbor because he hates him personally be less punished than a white man who beats up his black neighbor because he hates blacks?

I think the answer is that criminal law is always about "breaches of the King's peace." Society as a whole is more threatened by generic hate for minority groups than by the "ordinary" level of hatred created by interpersonal relationships. Hate crimes are not like my hypothetical example of a white man beating on a neighbor - they are almost always groups of thugs who act out social dominance of their group in a vicious way that passes a message to the rest of the non-dominant group.