Feb 1, 2008

hate crime enhancements are unjust in the United States

A compendium of links and resources for the March / April LD resolution...
Resolved: Hate crime enhancements are unjust in the United States.
is found here.


Update: It might be philosophically justifiable, but what if hate crime legislation has an unanticipated--and unjust--result?

Update 2/6: Enforcement, as an empirical matter, is considered.

Update 2/7: I look at US Sentencing Guidelines as a clear way to define hate crime enhancements, and consider a couple resulting arguments.

Update 2/10: I examine whether hate crimes are qualitatively unique.

Update 2/11: Further problems in enforcement are noted.

Update 2/17: I consider a second definition of hate crime enhancements, and potential consequences for the affirmative.

Update 2/18: Hey, Negatives. How about 6 reasons why hate crime enhancements are, in fact, just?

Update 2/21: Casting aside my initial skepticism, I show how a Rawlsian can approach the resolution.

Update 2/22: Retributivism, it is claimed, comes in two forms. How do they relate to the resolution?

Update 2/23: Hate crime enhancements can influence the plea bargaining process. Might this lead to injustice?

Update 2/24: I show how much hate crime enhancements vary from state to state.

Update 2/29 Looking for evidence that HCEs deter crime? Me, too.

Update 3/8: With a reader's help, I consider some ideas for Aff cases, as well as sample Neg cases.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

can someone please reword this? im not too sure on what its really asking...

Little Lotte! said...

Do you mean what he said? Or the resolution? He said he has a bunch of links to help out with research on the resolution. The RESOLUTION states that it's unjust to prosecute hate crimes on different levels based on the the intent of the criminal(if they attacked because the attacked is a member of a certain racial or ethnic group, etc).
Sorry if that didn't make much sense...I've taken this moment to realize that I don't excell at clarifying things...

Anonymous said...

are you sure that it is prosecuting on different levels? the "enhancement" part has got me confused, and I guess that works...at first i thought anything that enhanced hate crimes... could someone expain?

Anonymous said...

i as well need clarification for "enhancement".

Anonymous said...

enhancement entails making a sentence greater. thus, the resolution states that the act of lengthening sentences given to those who commit hate crimes is unjust.

Jim Anderson said...

And do be sure to click through to the link, above, where there's much more analysis, and even more to come.

Anonymous said...

"Hate crime enhancements" is term of art; if you take it out of context, it does sound like the phrase means to enhance hate crimes, ie encourage more hate crimes. But when its taken together as a phrase, it refers to increasing the sentence of the committers of hate crimes.

Anonymous said...

the enhancement part means that, say someone was going to be sentenced to 2 years in jail. but if the jury decides that the crime is considered a 'hate crime' then automatically X amount of years are added on to the original punishment.

Luana said...

ok let me see if i can help you guys out....
REsolution : it is saying that a person whom commites a crime because of racial, religious ect.. reasson that the sentece has to increase...
enchancement: means to INCREASE PUNISHMENT in this case

AFF: reasearch to see if hate crimes are usually more violent

NEG: the reason why some one is dead should not effect the punishment. NO one is MORE DEAD because it was a rusult of a hate crime.

any more question just post

tiff_rockout said...

Hey im a varsity member my 2nd year doing this and anderson guy you seem ery smart so i am adressing my question to you if thats alright?


i am going to run the aff value as justice but im not exactly sure the criteron i could use!?


btw i hate the whole unjust part.
haha

thank you
=]

tiff_rockout said...

Current legislation allows federal prosecution of a hate crime only if the crime was motivated by race, religion, national origin, or color. In addition, the assailant must intend to prevent the victim from exercising a federally protected right. The Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 1999, passed by the Senate in July 1999, seeks to expand federal jurisdiction over these crimes





i like this on the aff side becaise those are the only rights we should protect because they are gaurenteed to us but i dont know ho wthat could be a criteron

Jim Anderson said...

(I deleted Luana's superfluous posts, if anyone was wondering.)

tiff_rockout, there are so many criteria for justice, it's tough to know where to begin. I'll post something more detailed later, but for now, consider a few: retribution, due process, equal treatment under the law, the rule of law, utilitarianism (punishment as a deterrent or for societal benefit), victim's rights, Kantian deontology, Constitutionality, morality... one of those might work for you.

Jim Anderson said...

tiff_rockout, also, note that under current sentencing guidelines, even more classes are protected, and that even a perceived bias counts. (In other words, if someone attacks a person they think is gay, even if the victim is straight, it's still a hate crime.)

Those classes: "race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation."

Anonymous said...

thanks jim anderson
=D


i think equal treatment under the law is a good one
=]

Anonymous said...

Also one more thing sorry, to ask but ive been looking up equal treatment under the law, but i havent come into any good stuff really, do u know of any where where i could get some good, concrete easy to understand eviden or info, on that for a critereon


thank you

Jim Anderson said...

anonymous, the Wikipedia summary of the 14th Amendment's "Equal Protection Clause" is a decent place to start.

Anonymous said...

hi, i'm a fourth year high school debater, just wanted to get an opinion. thinking on the neg. about running something like justice involves truly getting the retribution you deserve. when determining this, the only thing that is relevant is the intent. the action doesn't matter. for example, a murderer can shoot somebody to kill them, whereas, an officer shoots somebody to protect someone else. ends based reasoning cannot evaluate justice because it doesn't let you tell the difference between two actions that have the same outcome (like killing for murder and killing for self-defense). so like, the moral reprehensibility/badness of a crime depends on the intent, so hate crimes should be punished more harshly. but the problem is differentiating between which intent is worse. like, why is it worse for a murderer to target African Americans than it is for him to target his wife because she cheated. any thoughts?

Jim Anderson said...

anonymous, you don't want to use absolutist language like "the action doesn't matter"--clearly it does, since shooting someone gets you a worse punishment than slapping them.

Intent, as you point out, matters a great deal between otherwise equivalent actions. But the resolution goes beyond intent, to motive. If the criminal purposefully targets victims of a particular ethnicity, for example, they can be classified as more dangerous because they do not have a specific, localized motive, but a general "animus" that makes them a threat to other members of that same ethnicity. To compare, spousal murder is localized--the person who kills their spouse out of vengeance presumably has no other targets in mind. (They're not a serial killer.)

Jim Anderson said...

(There are other reasons, too--I'll address them in an upcoming post.)

Anonymous said...

Okay, so I was going to say for my contentions that:
hate crime enhancements violate the constitution and hate crime enhancements divide people into different groups
Do you think these are very good?
and if no what should i change
also if you could help me find some info on these

Anonymous said...

Hi, I’m a first time LD debater, and I want to have someone’s opinion on these. I mainly have trouble with the Aff, just like everyone else.
For one of my argument, I said that hate crime enhancement would polarize different groups of society, and thus create social instability and the purpose of HCE would backfire. By responding to a crime that treats certain groups differently with this HCE, society’s responses to hate crime similarly highlight social divisions along inter-group lines. It would also fragment the community because HCE would be saying that the loss of person A is greater than that of person B. almost like saying one group is better than the other.
I’m not quite sure if this makes sense.
Another one of my argument is that (I’m really not sure about this one—it looks a little on the side of extreme) censorship of our speech is dehumanizing (i.e. the USSR censoring). And also HCE is somewhat imposing moral beliefs on everyone, which the first amendment vowed not to do?
please tell me if those are okay. Oh, and by the way, this website really helps:]

Jim Anderson said...

anonymous 1 and 2, on the polarization argument, Carol Streiker, in the Michigan Law Review article "Punishing hateful motives: Old wine in a new bottle revives calls for prohibition," May 1999, critiques James Jacobs' and Kimberly Potter's Hate Crimes. She writes:

They define "identity politics" as "a politics whereby individuals relate to one another as members of competing groups based upon characteristics like race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation" (p. 5). This definition reveals its clearly pejorative nature in the use of the word "competing" - to Jacobs and Potter, strong identification with an identity group implies a kind of zero-sum game. They go on to explain how such "identity politics" create perverse incentives: "According to the logic of identity politics, it is strategically advantageous to be recognized as disadvantaged and victimized.... The ironic consequence is that minority groups no longer boast about successes for fear that success will make them unworthy of political attention" (p. 5). What Jacobs and Potter fear most is that the recognition and deployment of group identities through law will ultimately serve to "harden and exacerbate social divisions" (p. 10).

She also summarizes Jacobs and Potter on the 1st amendment implications:

Sentence enhancements for other motives often do not have the same free speech implications. Unlike greed, jealousy, or simple coldbloodedness, bigotry is often connected to a system of political beliefs and is never content neutral. The concepts of prejudice and bigotry are political to the core. Hate crime laws explicitly seek to punish people for having bigoted beliefs. The Supreme Court did not even begin to grapple with this issue.

If you can find a direct cite from the book, that'd be ideal.

HELP!!! said...

i need help with my second contention
im writing an aff: hate crime enhancements divide the U.S. into diverse groups which leads to injustice

Jim Anderson said...

It might help if you explained, briefly, why you think that's unjust, and then we can see what might clarify your thinking.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jim,
I would like to write several good cases on this topic since I'm going to be at some pretty good tournaments. Do you think that reducing arbitrary government would be an effective criterion for the AFF? I could say HCE increases arbitrary government because the increase in the sentence is determined at the jury's/judge's discretion.

Any help would be appreciated.

Jim Anderson said...

That actually might help reduce the arbitrariness, since it has to be determined unanimously by a jury (whenever a case goes to trial) or by a judge (whenever there's a plea bargain, which is often). The arbitrariness is probably more due to the differences in enforcement across districts and states (see some of the links above) and in the prosecutor's power to levy a hate crime enhancement in order to force a plea.

I definitely think the libertarian stance favors the affirmative, and might ground your argument. Either that or an "equal protection of the laws" style case. Arbitrariness would be not only generically unjust, but unconstitutional.

Anonymous said...

Hey, how about a checks and balances type of deal? Although the court will decide the final punishment, congress actually sets the guidelines like minimum sentences for hate crimes and harsher punishment in general. So, since congress is making these laws, could it be said to violate checks and balances of the three branches? Almost like a reverse of the judicial activism resolution we had a while back?

Jim Anderson said...

anonymous, I don't see how a legislature crafting the laws of punishment would be a violation of "checks and balances," since it purposefully separates the law-making and law-enforcing components. The legislature can check police and judicial power by crafting different punitive schemes.

Anonymous said...

would it be possible to say that by imporisoning these people for hate crimes and that by becoming so judgemental on people's views we're actualy contradicting ourselves and doing exactly what we're punishing ?
It seems safe enough seeing as if you do this the neg case will in all probability agree with you on key points.

Chei said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Raishin said...

I'm so grateful for your blog right about now. In fact, it's been a helpful resource for LD for me over the entire school year. Thanks for taking some time out of your day to blog about things like this. :)