Resolved: Hate crime enhancements are unjust in the United States.Another "In the United States" resolution--what's the deal, NFL? Maybe they're saving their cosmopolitanism for nationals.
Anyhow, watch this space for analysis, links, observations, contentions, and contentiousness over the coming days and weeks. Be sure to comment and ask plenty of good questions, too.
To get you going:
1. The core Aff value is probably going to be justice. Think back to a previous resolution concerning plea bargaining: what specific form of justice are we talking about? Does a "hate crime" enhancement throw off or ensure proportionality? Does it strengthen or weaken deterrence? How much do victim's rights matter when deciding a fitting punishment?
2. Why "in the United States?" Are there uniquely American styles or views of justice that we must consider? How does Constitutionality come into play?
3. On the Aff, do "hate crime" enhancements create a form of oppression--an Orwellian "thought crime?" Doesn't the First Amendment, at its core, allow people to believe bad things? Does it really matter why someone commits a crime, if they acted with intent? Will "hate crimes" enhancements lead to the very same discrimination they're intended to stop? Will it create a form of sadistic martyrdom?
4. On the Neg, what societal good do "hate crime" enhancements create?
More--much more--to come! (Still working on last month's nuclear weapons res.? Click here.)
For folks new to the concept: Wikipedia has a decent rundown on American hate crimes legislation. A "hate crimes enhancement," per US Sentencing Guidelines, allows prosecutors to seek stiffer penalties for crimes "because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person."
In other words, if you punch someone in the face, you could be guilty of assault, and serve, say, two years in prison. If you punch someone while yelling a racial slur, should the punishment be harsher? What might make a "hate crime" worse than a similar offense?
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.