The Matthew Shepherd Act: Call the White House

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    Nov 17, 2007 8:45 PM GMT
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    Nov 17, 2007 8:50 PM GMT
    Murder is murder - I don't see how "hate" makes it any worse than the fact that they killed him.
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    Nov 17, 2007 9:58 PM GMT
    I don't think the issue is so that these kinds of crimes are somehow described as "worse". I don't think that's the issue at all. People who kill or commit some violent act after engaging in conspiracy to do so are treated differently than those who kill with no prior planning. There's murder in the first, second and third degrees. There's manslaughter, voluntary and involuntary. If potential perpetrators of these kinds of crimes realized that they were facing far greater charges than had they engaged in a crime of passion (for example), they might think twice about how far they're willing to go in order to express their feelings.
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    Nov 18, 2007 3:42 AM GMT
    I think the varying degrees of murder are sufficient. If the thought of punishment even ran through the mind of criminals in the act of murder then capital punishment would be a deterrant, which we found it not to be.
  • MarkX

    Posts: 101

    Nov 18, 2007 6:47 AM GMT
    But maybe if the uncertainty was removed...

    McKinney and Henderson used "gay panic" as a defense, and it was accepted by the courts as a valid argument. Why should that even be an option?

    "Hey, I can get away with mutilating this sick fuck because he makes me want to puke by being who he is. The jury in my home county will understand that I'm really the victim here.

    "And even if they don't at least Dubya understands me, God bless America and my freedom to express my hate."
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    Nov 18, 2007 10:10 AM GMT
    Hate motivated murders do tend to be more violent, as are other hate motivated crimes.

    In many places in this country, including my home state, murderers who killed their victims simply because they were gay have a greater chance of the jury letting them off the hook. I've personally heard defense attorneys admonishing the jury to ignore the victim's sexual orientation... and I've also heard the "gay panic" defense... and watched the perp walk away scott free. And this happens in our courts because the current laws allow it to happen. The existing "degree system" of murder isn't always sufficient and it is full of legal loopholes that allow cold-blooded, hate-driven murderers to get away with their crimes and perhaps kill another gay man because he got away with it the first time.

    How stupid is that for the courts to allow a murderer to justify his actions because of "gay panic"? If we can't stop hate crimes from happening, then we need to at least make it as difficult as possible for the murderers to get away with it.

    If this law is on the books and specifies clearly what constitutes a hate crime and what groups of people it specifically protects, as well as specific punishments, there's a much greater chance of convicting the perps and seeing them actually do time in prison.
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    Nov 18, 2007 3:05 PM GMT
    In terms of importance, this is right up there with other hate crime laws (race, religion, sex).
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    Nov 18, 2007 4:01 PM GMT
    The importance of the legislation is to allow local law enforcement the tools and resources to prosecute the offenders (...that just sounded like the beginning of a new Law & Order spinoff).
    My side view for the importance of adding tougher penalties for hate crimes is that those crimes increase the likelihood of harm against specific, targeted people. We already apply harsher penalties when someone attacks the police, or any federal employee--mainly because they are more apt to be a target.
  • Warren

    Posts: 99

    Nov 18, 2007 4:16 PM GMT
    Hate crimes, as far as I'm concerned, are silly. Murder is wrong no matter who it is against. I find it ridiculous to say that murdering a gay man because you hate him is worse than murdering a straight white man cause you hate him. also, how can you prove or disprove "hate"? Punishments should be based on the offense, not on the motive.

    I think, if anything, the punishments for all murders should be increased. If you take a life for any reason, then you should get a harsh punishment.
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    Nov 18, 2007 4:30 PM GMT
    The breakdown of civility is criminal. Matthew Shepherd's death is a tragedy. The community mourns his death. The murderer has lost his freedom. The parent's of the murderer mourns his loss. The breakdown of civility is criminal.
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    Nov 18, 2007 7:49 PM GMT
    Something weird that I just realized is that The day Matthew Shepard was tortured and killed is on my birthday.... Although that year I was turning 11, so I dont remember it back then.icon_cry.gif
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    Nov 18, 2007 7:59 PM GMT
    We don't need hate crime legislation at all. A concealed carry law and a large caliber loaded pistol is what one needs. I'd rather have Smith&Wesson protecting me than some hate crime legislation. This legislation is all show and no substance.
  • DenveRyk

    Posts: 167

    Nov 18, 2007 8:24 PM GMT
    How sad that the reason for hate crimes legislation has to be explained over and over again.
    1. It is not because the murder of a gay man is "worse than" the murder of someone else.

    2. It does not have to do solely with the individual crime in question (eg, the murder of an individual).

    Hate crime legislation is intended to send a message to the community at large that it is not acceptable or appropriate to single out any identifiable group for violence because of their race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, sexual or gender identity or orientation.

    Those who commit hate crimes intend to send a message to the group they have singled out. For example, Gays/lesbians are singled out because the sick mind of the perps wants the gay/lesbian community to know that they are not safe in a given locale. Like spray-painting swastikas on a synagogue, it is a message that the people in this group need to be afraid, simply for the reason that they belong to this group. Spray-painting the swastikas is not treated as graffitti vandalism for the simple fact that it is so much more than that.

    Hate crimes are about intimidating and entire community of people.

    That's why society through its laws must send a strong message that this type of behavior is to be punished beyond the individual case at hand--for the protection of the group singled out for intimidation.
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    Nov 18, 2007 8:24 PM GMT
    IIRC, Matthew Shepherd met his killers in a bar. And, a lot of gay bashings occur late at night, outside bars. However, many of the concealed carry laws specifically prohibit carrying in an establishment that sells alcohol. IMO, the idea that all we need is CCWs and large caliber handguns is not a well thought out perspective.
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    Nov 18, 2007 9:06 PM GMT
    Well said, DenveRyk. The other thing about hate crime legislation is that, at least to some small degree, the spirit behind it filters down to other facets of life, not just violence. It leaks itself into areas where the sheer dumbness of a gun would never be present.
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    Nov 18, 2007 10:26 PM GMT
    Dear McGay: THANK YOU for this info.

    The death of these 2 individuals speaks to the deep -rooted ideology of SOME members of the HUMAN(?) race, that those of difference(s) - can be eliminated without JUSTICE as a consequence; THIS IS A DISGRACE. Once again, these acts speak to the distorted EVOLUTION of some, within the HUMAN race!

    To the family members of these 2 men my heart goes out to them allicon_cry.gif and the "LEADER" of the U.S.A., has a great opportunity to impact future JUSTICE within the great States.

    What SHOCKS the hell out of me, is that the leader of the U.S.A., may not fully support this presenting BILL - that would set BOUNDARIES regarding the need for civility TO ALL THE PEOPLE! WOW, - I'm lost for words in this regard - it is UNACCEPTABLE in 2007!

    I hope, that this BILL is passed and that ALL AMERICANS stand-up, BE REAL and take their right to be heard within the future of their Country!

    Signed - disgustedicon_cry.gif

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    Nov 19, 2007 5:56 PM GMT
    This is the headline today on MSNBC

    "FBI Report: Hate crimes rose by 8 percent in 2006"

    WASHINGTON - Hate crime incidents in the United States rose last year by nearly 8 percent, the FBI reported Monday, as racial prejudice continued to account for more than half the reported instances.

    Police across the nation reported 7,722 criminal incidents in 2006 targeting victims or property as a result of bias against a particular race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic or national origin or physical or mental disability. That was up 7.8 percent from the 7,163 incidents reported in 2005.

    Although the noose incidents and beatings among students at Jena, La., high school occurred in the last half of 2006, they were not included in the report. Only 12,600 of the nation’s more than 17,000 local, county, state and federal police agencies participated in the hate crime reporting program in 2006 and neither Jena nor LaSalle Parish, in which the town is located, were among the agencies reporting.

    Nevertheless, the Jena incidents, and a rash of subsequent noose incidents around the country, have spawned civil rights protests in Louisiana and last Friday at Justice Department headquarters here. The department said it investigated the incident but decided not to prosecute because the federal government does not typically bring hate crime charges against juveniles.

    The Jena case began in August 2006 after a black student sat under a tree known as a gathering spot for white students. Three white students later hung nooses from the tree. They were suspended by the school but not prosecuted. Six black teenagers, however, were charged by LaSalle Parish prosecutor Reed Walters with attempted second-degree murder of a white student who was beaten unconscious in December 2006. The charges have since been reduced to aggravated second-degree assault, but civil rights protesters have complained that no charges were filed against the white students who hung the nooses.

    "The FBI report confirms what we have been saying for many months about the severe increase in hate crimes," said the Rev. Al Sharpton, who organized Friday’s march. "What is not reported, however, is the lack of prosecution and serious investigation by the Justice Department to counter this increase in hate crimes." Sharpton called for Attorney General Michael Mukasey to meet with members of the Congressional Black Caucus and civil rights leaders to discuss this matter.

    Noose incidents investigated

    The Justice Department says it is actively investigating a number of noose incidents at schools, work places and neighborhoods around the country. It says “a noose is a powerful symbol of hate and racially motivated violence” recalling the days of lynchings of blacks and that it can constitute a federal civil rights offense under some circumstances.

    The FBI report does not break out the number of noose incidents but the two most frequent hate crimes in 2006 were property damage or vandalism, at 2,911 offenses, and intimidation, at 2,046 offenses. There were 860 aggravated assaults and 1,447 simple assaults. There were three murders, 6 rapes and 41 arsons. Other offenses included robbery, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft.

    The 7,722 criminal hate crime incidents involved 9,080 specific criminal offenses, include 5,449 against individuals, 3,593 against property and 38 classified as against society at large. An incident can involve attacks on both people and property.

    As has been the case since the FBI began collecting hate crime data in 1991, the most frequent motivation was racial bias, accounting for 51.8 percent of the incidents in 2006. That was down slightly from the 54.7 percent in 2005.

    Also in 2006, religious bias was blamed for 18.9 percent of the incidents; sexual orientation bias for 15.5 percent, and ethnic or national origin for 12.7 percent.

    58 percent of offenders were white

    Of the 7,330 offenders identified by police, 58.6 percent were white, 20.6 percent were black, 12.9 percent were of unknown racial background and other races accounted for the remainder.

    The greatest percentage of incidents, 31 percent, occurred near residences or homes. Another 18 percent occurred on highways or streets, 12.2 percent at colleges or schools, 6.1 percent in parking lots or garages, 3.9 percent at churches, synagogues or temples. The remainder occurred at other specific locations, multiple locations or unknown locations.

    Lack of full participation by the more than 17,000 police agencies around the nation somewhat undermines year-to-year comparisons.

    For instance, in 2004, 12,711 agencies reported 7,649 incidents. In 2005, only 12,417 agencies reported and incidents dropped 6 percent to 7,163. But in 2006, agencies reporting rose to 12,620 and incidents climbed 7.8 percent to 7,722.

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    Nov 19, 2007 6:27 PM GMT
    The obvious fault in that report is that it only considers crimes listed as bias crimes.

    In our ethnically sensitive nation if a white man strikes a black man there is a far higher chance of people calling it a hate crime, as opposed to a black man striking a white man.

    Setting hate crimes based on ethnicity apart from normal crimes defeats the purpose of what an american is. We are citizens of our own nation, we should call ourselves americans. Rather than further dividing the nation by lines we should put our effort into education so hopefully the next generation can see beyond the lines of race or color.
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    Nov 19, 2007 8:24 PM GMT
    There are more criteria that go into calling something a hate crime than simply the color of the criminal and the victim. If racial (or sexually oriented) slurs are used during an attack or commission of a crime, it can get labelled a hate crime as opposed to "give me your money". Hanging nooses defines some "americans" (yeah, we're all americans) as racists, wouldn't you say? A person like that has no place in civilized society, nor does one who beats a kid to a pulp and hangs him on a fence while calling him a faggot.

    Legislation speaks to the motive of a crime. Motive has always been considered when determining the severity of a crime. If the motive is sexually oriented bias or racial bias or religious bias, it's far worse than, for example, two men fighting over a woman and one breaks the other's neck, as they were participating equally in the battle.
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    Nov 23, 2007 9:31 PM GMT

    BTW, if an African American strikes a White and used racial slurs while doing so that is also a hate crime in my mind.

    Their is NO DISTINCTION! It's sadden me that there is not a national Hate Crime Law.


    You are as always a wealth of information! Hat's off to you!

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    Nov 23, 2007 9:43 PM GMT
    I bet you didn't even ACTUALLY have a hat on.
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    Nov 23, 2007 10:36 PM GMT
    "Setting hate crimes based on ethnicity apart from normal crimes defeats the purpose of what an american is."

    What an "american is" is constantly evolving. It used to mean owning a slave to be american. It used to be owning a wife to be american (yes, wives were considered property).
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    Nov 25, 2007 12:01 AM GMT
    What ever your rationalization is, Hate Crime Legislation still plays "pity poor me" to the audience, or the rest of the country.
    Paradox, you're right, even with concealed carry laws, one can not, nor should one carry a pistol into a bar.
    Like with a designated driver, have a designated shooter. Keep the pistol in the car and take it out if needed. It's time to make martyrs out of gay bashers, we need to stop being victims. Hate crime legislation will just play up our victim image.