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Resolved: Hate crime enhancements are unjust in the United States

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Value Criterion

The main debate is centered upon hate crime, which would have lasting effects upon the victims psyche and would be violating there dignity. So, an obvious value criterion for both sides would be dignity or protecting human rights This could function on the affirmative by suggesting that violating one's liberty with extra punishment is unjust or on the negative, whereas if you don't condone hate crimes, you accept them.


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

Fairness: Hate crime enhancements do not treat citizens fairly or equally


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.


Hate crime enhancements are not unjust. Hate crimes should be given a more severe penalty because the harm done to the victim and society is greater. Given that hate crimes are generally perpetrated against minority groups, and because these minority groups are always in a state of social disenfranchisement; it could be argued that the US government is attempting to arbitrate equality to minorities by compensating them with laws that will better favor their interests, thus forcibly "balancing the scale" of social equity.

1st amendment: Enhancement violates the 1st Amendment


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


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.

The 1st Amendment is a part of the United States Constitution. The US Supreme Court alone has the authority to interpret the Constitution and have given their official position that hate crime enhancements are not in violation of the 1st Amendment (see Wisconsin v. Mitchell 1993)

Intent: Intent cannot be proven


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.


Intent can be proven. Intent needs to be punished because it is more important than the action. For example, murders are classified as premeditated, man-slaughter, or self-defense based solely upon the intent of the aggressor. Although the action is the same and the result is the same for all, intent is the basis for punishment in all the crimes. Given that the intent of a hate crime is more malicious than simple premeditative murder; it is just to enhance hate crime laws to reflect stronger punishment.

There is no denying Hitler's intent in killing six million Jews, and others. He was obviously targeting individuals based on uncontrollable traits and commiting real-world hate crimes. Anyone who denies his intent of racism is speaking against facts.

===Argument===Hate crime laws already exist and are efficient, therefore enhancements are unnecessary


Hate crime laws already exist. Laws recognize hate crimes as unique, different from murder (premediated, manslaughter, etc) and try/punish individuals within the category separately. This is fair and equal treatment. Enhancements to the punishments are unnecessary due to the fact that punishing individuals more would contradict current retributive justice as not enough.

Individuals have already been punished that have committed hate crimes; enhancements would make it necessary to retry and repunish those individuals according to higher enhancements and standards. This would be a waste of resources, time, and effort.

Punishments are based on two factors: intent--the planning of any action, and the action--the physically committing a crime. Hate crime laws respect this two-tier punishment currently; any enhancements made seek to punish motive.

Motivations are different from everything else. Motivation precedes intention (the planning). Motivation cannot be judged. Motivation is inherently present within the human soul and cannot be punished simply because it stimulated a person to intend or commit a crime. Motivations such as envy, lust, love, or hate should not be punished because they are inherent to human beings. Only the actions and the intentions that result from those motivations can be punished. Enhancements seek to punish motivation, therefore are unjust.


Hate crime enhancements are necessary because of several factors. First, each individual within society is due justice succeeding a crime. Current hate crime laws do not meet the bar of justice. Supreme Court ruled in Wisconsin v. Mitchell the necessity of hate crime enhancements due to the ineffiency of current hate crime laws.

Only increased punishment will ensure aggressors accurately what they are due. Aggressor is due, in any crime, rehabilition. Rehabilition, especially for cases motivated by deep hatred, spawn from increased time and increased effort. To make this lengthy rehabilition possible, justice system needs to incarcerate criminals longer to time and provide them with the correct focus and concentration. Anyone who argues hate cannot be erased is not providing any legitimate argument; hate is the product of ignorance, provincial thinking, and environmental factors. Hate is not an essential human trait, we are not born hating people, it is a learned factor that can be unlearned when correctly rehabilitated.

As a result, increased punishments would help the aggressor attain what they deserve. Current recidivism rates are extremely high amongst hate crime criminals. To decrease these rates, increased incarceration is necessary. It would provide society with the greatest justice, thus answering the resolution's question of justice.


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