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Resolved: Hate crime enhancements are unjust in the United States

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Overview

Definitions

A hate crime is a crime, usually violent, motivated by prejudice or intolerance toward a member of a gender, racial, religious, or social group. In this resolution, hate crime "enhancements" refer to a heavier punishment if a crime had been committed out of racial hatred or other prejudices. For example, normal graffiti would not be punished so severely, but if a swastika was sprayed onto a Jewish temple, there is clear racial hatred behind the crime and the person would be punished much more severely. This pertains to all other aspects of crime, i.e. a lynching would be punished much more severely than a regular homicide. The United States justice system does recognize hate crimes and punishes them more severely.

See also Debate:Hate Crimes

Hate crime enhancements do not treat citizens fairly or equally

Affirmative

Hate crime enhancements are unjust because it punishes two equal results (i.e. assault vs. racial mugging) with different punishments. The judgment should be given from behind a "Veil of Ignorance"; we need to judge the concrete action of the aggressor rather than an assumed intent that cannot be proven.


Negative

Hate crimes enhancements are not unjust. Hate crimes should be given a more severe penalty because the harm done to the victim and society is greater.

Argument

Yes

Hate crimes are crimes that are based on an idea that the perpetrator had prior to the crime. The crime itself is no different from any other crime except that it is punished harder. Why is it punished harder? Because we are punishing an idea. This is unjust and our own constitution states this. In the 1st Amendment to the constitution we are granted the freedom of speech and thought among other freedoms. Our whole system of government is based on be able to think and speak freely without being coerced by any outside influence. That’s why the 1st Amendment was added.

Hate crime enhancements violate the 1st Amendment

No

As for the freedom of speech; hate crimes are a clear violation of this. A person does have the right to express themselves, but not in a way that would prevent others from exercising their own rights. A hate crime is the ultimate attempt to limit another's freedom of expression. A hate crime is an attempt to silence the very idea that a particular person has the right to exist or to live a particular lifestyle. The idea that a person has the right to violate another person's rights for the sake of their own free expression inherently contradicts itself. The freedom of expression can never extend to the point where you are allowed to silence opposing ideas and viewpoints. Therefore, in order to uphold the first amendment, hate crime enhancements are not only just, but are in fact necessary.


Argument

Yes

You can only justly punish crimes based on intent.

Every crime is punished based on intent. We can never justly define an act as right or wrong based on outcomes or even the nature of the act. This is true for several reasons. Firstly, two identical acts can be a crime or not a crime depending on intent. If a person cuts someone open to cause them harm they commit a crime. If a doctor cuts someone open to heal a hurt, they are not causing a crime. Secondly, even identical outcomes from the same act can be different based on intent. In the prior analogy, the victim and the patient may both die. The first is a crime and the second is not. We can never justly define an act as right or wrong based on outcomes or even the nature of the act. Thirdly, we can never actually predict the outcome of actions. If you base your judgments of right and wrong strictly on outcome, you would punish people who were doing moral acts and reward those who were committing immoral acts. For example, a disgruntled businessman might wish to destroy his company by investing larges sums of money in a risky investment. That investment could actually pay off for the company. His intent was to cause harm, but the result was something good. On the other hand, a person could wisely invest the money for the sake of helping the company and have the investment fail. This person was acting correctly. Finally, there are laws against intending to commit crimes and failing. Attempted murder is an example. We punish for attempted murder entirely on intent. This is Just because it is wrong to make an attempt on someone's life, not because of the act itself. There are times where seemingly benign acts can actually be intended to cause harm. These acts are wrong, regardless of outcome.

No

Argument

Yes

No

References:

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