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Hate Crimes Essay

1086 words - 4 pages

According to the FBI, the definition of a hate crime is a "Criminal offence committed against a person or property which is motivated, in whole or by part, by the offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnicity/national origin, or sexual-orientation." Crimes upon persons because of a difference in how they appear, believe, or act have been a growing concern throughout history. (Uniform Crime Reports, 2002) According to Eric Holder, a former assistant U.S. Attorney General, "The true scope of these crimes as a growing national problem is just now being realized." (Holder, 1999) Looking back into history, many crimes could be construed as a hate crime, yet were ignored. President Lincoln was not shot for being President or for being a white male. He was shot for his beliefs against slavery.Many people view hate crime committers as demented, hate-filled neo-Nazis or as many people have called them, "skinheads". That may have been the situation in historical hate crime cases, but that is not the case in today's world. Law-abiding persons who see nothing immoral with their actions commit the most hate crimes. Many hate crimes are committed by a group of people rather than one single person. A possible key factor to the occurrences of hate crimes is peer pressure. When in a group setting, many people behave in ways that is not normal for them. Alcohol and drugs will sometimes assist these crimes, but the key motivation appears to be personal prejudice.Eric Holder believes that through understanding, education, and an effort involving everybody, we can fight the terrorism going on in our own country, with our own people. He also believes that the current federal statute has many inconsistencies. Under Statute 18 USC Section 245, the federal government only prohibits hate crimes based on race, color, religion, or national origin. The statute states nothing in regards to sexual preference or the health of the victim. Following those guidelines, many crimes could go unpunished as a hate crime, as they are not in writing as being a hate crime. That means that a person could possibly murder a homosexual man and not get the extra penalties associated with hate crimes. If that man was a black homosexual man, the offender could be prosecuted for the hate crime murder of a black man, but not the hate crime against a homosexual man. A good lawyer could win that argument. Many times, hate crimes go unpunished as hate crimes because of that statute. Eric Holder Believes the definition of a hate crime needs to be expanded.Fred Dickey, a writer for the Los Angeles Times Magazine, believes that if the government expands the definition of a hate crime, it would create more issues than resolutions. He believes that by expanding these definitions, more "young, undereducated, poor, mentally-ill" persons would go to prison. (Dickey, 2000) Dickey reports that a man by the name of Billy McCall was the first man in America prosecuted for a hate crime against...

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