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Apr 30, 2009


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"Irks" isn't the right word. Foxx needs to resign. That's like calling M.L.K.- Hitler in my minds. It's not even in the same ball park. It's offensive, repulsive, and without a doubt astonishing that someone in a political position is as uneducated as she has indicated she is.


I prefer mine: Virginia Foxx Dishonors North Carolina

I'm also disturbed that the News & Record thinks this has to do with upsetting or "irking" gays, rather than Foxx re-writing history out of whole cloth. She should be ashamed of her performance.


One thing I've never understood:
What's the rationale for punishing the same crime differently based on someone's subjective opinion of the degree of liking or disliking of the person against whom the crime was committed?
Seems like it would make for some ridiculous courtroom theatrics: "Did you or did you not, sir, indeed hate that person when you killed him?"


The headline writer must have been referring to the last paragraph in the story, in which Matt Comer laments that most outrage would be limited to the gay community.

Matt's a sharp guy, but in this instance he's wrong.

Inexcusable headline, nonetheless.

Let's out Foxx.

Dave Dobson

Cheri -
We make those kind of distinctions all the time. Self defense, voluntary/involuntary, crime of passion, etc. Killing a person at random because you hate the group he's in is worse than killing a person because he beat up your wife, wouldn't you say?

The criminal code is meant to give disincentives to bad behavior. We trust juries to interpret it; if we give them a reasonable definition of "hate crime," I don't see the problem.

Oh, and Foxx is an idiot. Now, wasn't there another guy we don't like who we think is bad for denying the reality of loathsome crimes?


"Killing a person at random because you hate the group he's in is worse than killing a person because he beat up your wife, wouldn't you say?"

Assuming you are actually serious, no, I definitely wouldn't. Every individual's life has equal value, regardless of how someone else wants to lump them into groups and make judgements to the contrary..

Alan Bulluck

I get the feeling that Foxx just had her "Macaca" moment.


"Deeply ingrained in our legal tradition is the idea that the more purposeful is the criminal conduct, the more serious is the offense, and, therefore, the more severely it ought to be punished." Tison v. Arizona, 481 U.S. 137, 156 (1987)


There's an important distinction in international 'law' too.

If you kill someone that's murder, if you kill someone as part of the deliberate and systematic destruction of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group that's genocide.

Domestically, it is important to identify 'hate' as a motive because the criminal attacks the core of a person’s identity. This degrading and dehumanizing behavior sends the message to the less powerful groups that they are vulnerable. Society suffers from such intolerance.


Let me amend that as being for the same crime within the definition as first degree, second degree murder, etc. I guess most so-called hate crimes would by definition fall under the former.


Agreed CP. There will always be mitigating circumstances involved, and other than self defense, it is hard to justify the killing of any person in my mind. Maybe some of our legal experts could explain why equal protection under the 14th (?) amendment is not sufficient enough in these instances.


Prediction: this will be a 100+ comment thread.


Would Matthew Shepard's killers have received any harsher sentence under this new legislation than they did when convicted under Wyoming law?






CP: I'm inspired to comment on this thread because of your projection of 100, and i see hundreds of people wearing particle masks at ATL airport to keep the swine flu from going up their snoot.

If I was tortured into confessing to a hate crime, I would probably plea down to the "i just didn't like the guy" to keep it out of federal courts. My problem is the government defining hate. Lacking empathy is the trait needed to kill someone, not hate. We're still in the middle ages on some stuff. I have an 8 hr delay but a lot of free tickets. I just found out my guardian angel is on crack. Al Queerda will be all over this one.

Roger Greene

Does anyone remember particulars about the case? Did the perps seek this guy out and kill him while passing up the opportunity to kill others who weren't gay? Did they come upon this guy at random and then find out he was gay? Curious as to the background.


Equal Protection under the 14th Amendment was narrowly read by Mrs. Foxx's forbears in the Supreme Court.

Jonathan Jones


There were several stories at the trial about whether they sought out a gay man to rob, whether they were seeking a drug dealer to rip off or whether it was a crime of opportunity. The killers' girlfriends testified that the men had planned in advance to rob a gay man that night.

Only one of the two went on trial, the other accepted two life sentences in exchange for avoiding the death penalty and to testify against his accomplice (although he never did).

The one that went on trial attempted to use a "gay panic" defense in which he claimed that when Sheppard made a pass at him by putting his hand on the guy's leg, it triggered some emotional response because he had been the victim of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of another boy.

The judge wouldn't let them use the gay panic defense during the case in chief, only sentencing, and then it never came up because Shepards' parents struck a deal after the guy was convicted to have the death penalty taken off the table in exchange for two life sentences.

After the trial it came to light that Shepard never made a pass
at the guy in the first place. And they all knew each other, it was a small community and they ran in some of the same circles. They knew he was gay from the get-go.


"gay panic" must be what i get when i catch myself watching 2 or more beautiful women who know what love means. i don't to kill anyone, though. I don't won't even want to hit anything, except that zoom1 button.

Jeffrey Sykes

@Roger:"Does anyone remember particulars about the case?"

I remember that what they did to the young man's body was beyond hate.

It's too bad Mrs. Foxx doesn't recall that as well.


"If I was tortured into confessing to a hate crime, I would probably plea down to the "i just didn't like the guy" to keep it out of federal courts. My problem is the government defining hate. Lacking empathy is the trait needed to kill someone, not hate."

Maybe hate should be a separate crime to be prosecuted independently of its association with others: i.e. "You are charged with one count of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree hate. How do you plea?"

Enjoy your trip. I think Joe Biden is on your flight. Cough and sneeze a lot.


So these animals get life instead of the death penalty. Hate crime laws would have given them a harsher penalty-death sentence? I like to think a death sentence would be too kind. Let them suffer every day for the rest of their lives.


yeah...if you're going to be executioner in a hate crime case, you must sign a disclaimer, which reads that you don't hate the guy for what he did. if you hate the guy you execute, that may be a crime.

The other problem is that if you're one of those sillies who love to hate. How would you prosecute a person if hate were the secondary emotion. This Foxx bat has opened a can of legal worms.

The current homeland security alert level at orange. This has been a public service announcement.


Kim: "let them suffer every day" is mighty dadburned close to being a cyberhate infraction. Eyes are all over. "be verwy verwy careful" ~ Elmer Fudd


Beelze, you're one crazy wabbit.


The "harsher" nature of hate crime laws isn't simply a matter of tacking on additional punishment. It affects what resources are directed at the case, the path of the investigation and plea negotiations in addition to sentencing considerations.


I see, and I guess not every crime is a murder. Just another thought. You have one group of victims (meets hate crime criteia) getting preferential treatment over another group of victims (do not meet crteria). How will that stand up to Equal Protection. Now we want to expand the criteria to gender and sexual orientation, what group is not covered? Hetero white males. Put them in the mix and we are back to "every crime is a hate crime".


Granted, Sven, the federal law does offer more resources for prosecuting these crimes, but the notion that it creates harsher penalties (as has been asserted by both "sides") is not necessarily true. In Shepard's case, this law would have made no difference, except to have possibly removed the threat of the death penalty from consideration.

I've also seen it argued that this law sets up a situation where someone can be tried twice for the same crime if state prosecutors fail to get a conviction. I'm not clear on what that is based, I don't see it plainly stated in the bill, still, if that's accurate, that's not an insignificant fault.


Sorry for the off-topic spamming, but I wanted to make sure you all know you're invited to attend the BlueNC Blogger Blash on Saturday at my house.

Here's the scoop.


"Hetero white males."

Actually, because the legislation refers to race, gender and sexual orientation, it would be possible to get convicted of a hate crime against hetero white males if the criminal was motivated to commit the crime by the victim's race, gender or sexual orientation.


Thanks Roch, I guess that is self evident. Where have you been, you could have straightened me out long ago.


PS, I am not on any "side", just trying to understand the purpose of the legislation beyond mandatory sentencing and prosecuting to the full extent of the law.


Kim, I'm flattered, but it's okay if you are not straight.


Not that there's anything wrong wtih that. If it's do good legislation-great, if it's feel good-what's the point.

Jonathan Jones

Roch, the idea that they could be tried twice for the same crime isn't new based on this particular bill. The concept of dual sovereignty (state and federal) has been used to justify trying people twice for some time.

I can commit a single act and if it is both a state offense and a federal offense, both the state and federal governments can each prosecute. That does not violate double jeopardy, as the courts have interpreted it, because it is not the same sovereign authority attempting to try me twice on the same facts.

So the statute doesn't need to say anything to that effect. Essentially, by making a new federal crime that overlaps with existing state crimes, you've created more opportunity for people to be tried twice.


Thanks, Jonathan. "Dual sovereignty" does indeed seem to be where the "double jeopardy" objection comes from. You are right that there is nothing unique to this law, any federal law that criminalizes an act already outlawed by state law presents the same concern. Thanks again for the edufication.


"If it's do good legislation-great, if it's feel good-what's the point."

After round and round, I think we've arrived at the crux of the matter.


re: double jeopardy....a judge was hearing a case involving genetically improved legumes when the two parties, (Sipps Vs Chalsah) agreed to settle out of court. the judge was later appointed to federal court. The same parties showed up in his court a year later with the same dispute. He recused himself immediately saying he could not hear Sipps & Chalsa with re-tried beans.


Looks like the main federal hate crime law is pretty much all about different punishment for the same crime to me.


Hyperlink didn't work for some reason.

Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (Enrolled as Agreed to or Passed by Both House and Senate)



(a) DEFINITION- In this section, `hate crime' means a crime in which the defendant intentionally selects a victim, or in the case of a property crime, the property that is the object of the crime, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person.

(b) SENTENCING ENHANCEMENT- Pursuant to section 994 of title 28, United States Code, the United States Sentencing Commission shall promulgate guidelines or amend existing guidelines to provide sentencing enhancements of not less than 3 offense levels for offenses that the finder of fact at trial determines beyond a reasonable doubt are hate crimes. In carrying out this section, the United States Sentencing Commission shall ensure that there is reasonable consistency with other guidelines, avoid duplicative punishments for substantially the same offense, and take into account any mitigating circumstances that might justify exceptions.

Fred Gregory


You are on to something.

Sullivan 2009:

double jeopardy by another name

"Aside from the usual problems with hate crime laws, which punish people for their ideas by making sentences more severe when the offender harbors politically disfavored antipathies, this bill federalizes another huge swath of crimes that ought to be handled under state law, creating myriad opportunities for double jeopardy by another name. The changes would make it much easier for federal prosecutors who are displeased by an acquittal in state court to try, try again, as they did in the Rodney King and Crown Heights riot cases. They simply have to argue that the crime was committed "because of" the victim's membership in one of the listed groups. As four members of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission point out in a recent letter opposing the bill (noted by Hans Bader), that description could apply to a wide range of ordinary crimes"

Sullivan 1998:

Thought Crimes

"On the day Matthew Shepard died, Wyoming Governor Jim Geringer warned that 'we should not use Matt to further an agenda.' He quoted Shepard’s father as saying: 'Don’t rush into just passing all kinds of new hate-crimes laws. Be very careful of any changes and be sure you’re not taking away rights of others in the process.' "

Fred Gregory

errata: Sullum


Fast-forward from 1998 to 2009


Damn, why can't I hyperlink? Excerpts:

Beware of Federal Hate-Crime Proposal

Tuesday, April 28, 2009 11:42 AM

By: David Limbaugh

Homosexual activists aren't deterred easily. Unable to persuade even the people of California to change the definition of marriage to legitimize their lifestyle, they're resorting to a backdoor approach to accomplish the same thing: pushing federal hate-crime legislation while few are paying attention.

Well, people better wake up, because the House Judiciary Committee has approved Barney Frank's bill, H.R. 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The full House is expected to vote on the bill Wednesday, and various liberal groups, from gay activists to liberal religious organizations, are engaged in a full-court press to get this bill passed.

As others have noted, the bill, if enacted into law, also would violate the constitutional guarantee of equal protection by codifying the notion that certain groups of citizens, such as homosexuals, are entitled to greater legal protection than others, such as, say, older ladies.

Color me, also, alarmist, but I think the main purpose of this bill is to demonize and criminalize thought, especially the politically incorrect belief that homosexual behavior is either abnormal or sinful. It is to make an emphatic societal statement that this belief constitutes "hate" and possibly to lay the groundwork for outlawing speech expressing this belief, including from the pulpit.

Irrespective of your opinion on homosexual behavior, it is a distortion of the English language to say that it is hateful to believe it is somehow abnormal or even sinful. One can disapprove of behavior without hating those engaging in it; indeed, the Bible exhorts Christians to love, not hate. One can oppose hate-crime legislation or same-sex marriage without being a homophobe — another distortion of the language to paint the opposition as irrationally and immorally fearful of homosexuals.

If you want to witness a clinic in "hate," watch the YouTube video of homosexual celebrity blogger Perez Hilton excoriating Miss California, Carrie Prejean, for courageously offering her opinion under loaded questioning that marriage should be between a man and a woman, a belief that a clear majority of people in her state share.

This man proudly called Prejean vile names and might have single-handedly caused her to lose the Miss USA title. Now that's an example of direct harm inflicted on one because of her beliefs. Opinionated heterosexuals often are not the ones doing the hating, harassing, thought-control intimidation, and speech chilling these days, but instead, the militant homosexual activists are spewing the invectives.


The notion that this bill gives greater protection to certain groups is a canard -- sweets for the hypnotized. The bill does no such thing. It refers to sexual orientation, something that all people have. It no more creates special protections for homosexuals than it does for heterosexuals, who also have sexual orientation. So, CP, please stop posting misinformation.

Ed Cone

Please do not post extended excerpts of copyrighted material. Thanks.

That said, the comparison of a horrific murder to a video that says mean things about a beauty-pageant contestant was certainly a great moment in rhetoric.

Jeffrey Sykes

Picker: Lines 4,5 and 6 of text on this example show how to hyperlink.

You can practice on that page.



You can call US law and links to others' opinions misinformation if you choose. Do you want Ed to stop doing that, too?


"the comparison of a horrific murder to a video that says mean things about a beauty-pageant contestant was certainly a great moment in rhetoric."

Sorry Ed, it's just that if you had been following the discussion about legislation about hate crimes and hate speech , people on both sides found it helpful to expand it beyond the relatively narrow confines of murder, with which I had initially framed the discussion. I am perfectly happy to keep it there.

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