Last Updated 17 Jan 2023

Hate Crime and the Punishment of a Hate Crime in the United States of America

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A hate crime is defined as a crime motivated by prejudice or intolerance toward an individual's national origin, ethnicity, color, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability. The concept of a hate crime should not exist. We as citizens of the United States of America have the right to hate. The punishment of a crime should not become more severe because of the mere assumption that somebody has hatred for a group of people. The punishment of the crime should focus more on the victim as an individual rather than the fact that the victim was a part of a certain group of people. To label a crime as a hate crime has a huge disadvantage on society.

"A free country will always mean a hateful country." (Sullivan 192) As Americans we have the right to hate somebody and not be punished for it. The first amendment to the constitution grants us freedom of speech. Enforcing the law of hate crimes restricts our constitutional rights. If we are entitled to freedom of speech we are also entitled to freedom to think and feel a certain way. In addition, someone should not penalized because the violent act was assumed to be out of hate based only on the fact that the victim was black, homosexual, had a disability etc. If one acts violently because of hate they should be punished accordingly for solely the violent act, not the assumption of the act being out of hate.

Sullivan makes a valid point when he states, "In an attempt to repudiate a past that treated people differently because of the color of their skin, or their sex, or religion or sexual orientation, we may merely create a future that permanently treats people differently because of the color of their skin, or their sex, religion or sexual orientation. This notion of a hate crime, and the concept of hate that lies behind it, takes a psychological mystery and turns it into a facile political artifact. Rather than compounding this error and extending even further, we should seriously consider repealing the concept altogether." Hate crimes were created in an effort to lessen discrimination and to better society, when really they are making the issue worse. Hate crimes cause people to look at a victim and see nothing but, that they were of a certain gender or of a certain ethnicity. If hate crimes were eliminated, the victim would be looked solely as a person which would help to eliminate discrimination. Making a punishment more severe just because a person is different is adding to the issue.

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"In this, as in so many other things, there is no solution to the problem. There is only a transcendence of it. For all our rhetoric, hate will never be destroyed."(Sullivan 193) Hate is inevitable; it is a part of human nature to hate. Therefor Hate should not be categorized as a crime, how you act upon your feelings of hate should be the only thing punishable. Hate is a feeling and having a feeling is not a crime.

The law of hate crimes should definitely be repealed. Hate crimes are not only unconstitutional, but they add to the sociological issue of people being seen as different because of their national origin, ethnicity, color, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability. Hate crime laws have a big disadvantage on society and should not exist.

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