A Horrible Crime -- A Worthless Law

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David Ritcheson, the victim of a horrible crime, has committed suicide.

He was clearly the victim of a hate crime:

Ritcheson's death comes less than three months after he testified before Congress about how two teens nearly killed him on April 23, 2006 by repeatedly kicking a patio umbrella stand into his rectum while shouting "white power!"

Tuck and Turner dragged Ritcheson, who was Hispanic, into the backyard, where they taunted him with racial slurs, punched and kicked him in the head and burned him 17 times with cigarettes. They tried to carve a swastika into his chest.

His attackers poured bleach on his face and body and left him for dead. No one called for an ambulance until well after daybreak.

The former Klein Collins High School running back and freshman homecoming prince spent three months and eight days in the hospital and endured more than 30 surgeries.

Ritcheson testified for new "Hate Crimes" legislation:

"I appear before you as a survivor," Ritcheson told members of a House Judiciary subcommittee April 17. "I am here before you today asking that our government take the lead in deterring individuals like those who attacked me from committing unthinkable and violent crimes against others because of where they are from, the color of their skin, the God they worship, the person they love, or the way they look, talk or act."

But the article states that, "A skinhead named David Tuck, 19, was sentenced to life in prison for his part in the attack. Keith Turner, 18, received a 90-year sentence."

What more could be done? If such sentences, without new hate crimes legislation, does not deter such beasts, what will?

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20 Comments

Kevin said:

What's the actual issue with the new hate crimes legislation? Is it really asking for stiffer penalties across the board or is it looking to include more crimes under the rubric of "hate"? Or both?

I think you're right on about stiffer penalties not acting as much of a deterrent (though you'd probably find that for most people SOME penalty acts as a deterrent but there will be SOME people for whom nothing is a deterrent). I assume you feel the same way about Capital Punishment, in terms of deterrence?

Jack said:

You assume I feel HOW about capital punishment?

Kevin said:

"What more could be done? If such sentences. . .does not deter such beasts, what will?"

That it isn't much of a deterrent? Mind answering the other questions too?

I for one think that the idea of a "hate crime" is superfluous in the extreme. I've not seen attempted murder out of love. Nobody commits assault and battery because they are overwhelmed with affection for a person.

It is not for man to judge the heart -- we cannot see it, and it is not appropriate to codify what cannot be proved. What is knowable is what a person does. It is enough that if a person assaults another than the crime is assault. The crime of malicious wounding does require that the person have attacked another, but then it is what the person has done (attacked the other person and wounded them). No sane person attacks people without hatred (and those that attack people without hatred are probably mentally incompetent to stand trial in the first place).

Another point: what justifies having a "hate crime" in the first place? How does one tell if an attack is a "hate crime" or just because one person hates another for "normal" reasons? Is it a hate crime if Ann does X to Bob, but not a hate crime if person Ann does the exact same thing to Chuck? Does that mean that Bob has better protection under law than Chuck? Does an attack actually have to occur, or is just saying something against Bob enough to charge Ann with a hate crime? While I decry and condemn those that would honor and glorify the Nazis of WWII in killing Jews, gypsies and anyone else they didn't like, I do not believe our constitution allows us to say someone cannot speak what they think (other than crying "fire" in a crowded building).

So why do I think a law that establishes "hate crimes" is folly? Because it violates the constitution, further promotes within the legal system the prosecution of those who have *done* nothing wrong, it has no basis in the moral law, it almost assuredly will be abused.

Kevin said:

Brian, I understand your argument. However, one difference I can think of is the chilling effect that a hate crime can have on a community, different than your average assault or murder. There seems to be a difference between a crime that seeks to send a prohibitive message to a certain group of people for the purpose of spreading fear/terror. The Klan seemed to capitalize on this kind of fear.

It seems to me that is much different than say, being drunk, driving, and accidentally killing someone. Or intentionally murdering someone.

Jack said:

Kevin:

"That it isn't much of a deterrent?"

I never said it wasn't much of a deterrent. I said that if life in prison will not deter these beasts, what will? I am sure that jail is a deterrent. But when the penalty is ALREADY life in prison, adding more time will not be more of a deterrent.

Yes, I feel the same way about capital punishment: it is definitely a deterrent ( http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,280215,00.html ), but sentencing people to multiple death sentences will not increase the deterrence.


"Mind answering the other questions too?"

Start by reading the bills yourself:
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:H.R.1592:
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:S.1105:

Antony said:

We need the Hate Crimes Bill because of situations like Aaron Hall. You can read his story here:

http://www.hatecrimesbill.org/aaron_hall/index.html

In his case the Feds need to step in.

Jack said:

I read it: "[The] Matthew Shepard Act could not have prevented Aaron's murder...."

AFF said:

"I for one think that the idea of a "hate crime" is superfluous in the extreme. I've not seen attempted murder out of love. Nobody commits assault and battery because they are overwhelmed with affection for a person."

Are you kidding? No assaults and murders are commited in the name of love?

Yes- many assaults and murders are committed by people overwelmed by their emotions and feeling towards their victims, hence the saying "a crime of passion".

What makes hate crime so aweful is the randomness of the act- most murder victims know their killers.

Hate crime is often committed on total strangers- Like the gay guy who was assualted in Georgetown by one of the Duke Rape defendants.

The victim looked (and was)gay- Lacross boy beat his ass for the fun of it and should pay an extra debt to society

Jack said:

So some victims are more worthy than others?

Bingo, Jack.

Ted said:

We all know that a white racist who murders a black man is worthy of more punishment than a black man who shoots a 13-year old black girl in the back while trying to rob her family's ice cream truck.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/01/AR2007070101511.html

Or than a couple of teenagers who rob and murder a 75 year old barber.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/21/AR2007062102035.html

Or a couple of other thugs in invade someone's house and kills one of residents.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/26/AR2007062601054.html

Right?

Kevin said:

"Start by reading the bills yourself:"

I'll take that to mean,"I don't know", first of all. You're the one making the argument, you answer the question!. . .I say like. . .who was that SPMM compared you to? I think it was Little Lord Fauntleroy.

Anyhow, you know by now, I'm too stupid to navigate the labyrinth of the internet to search for meaning in your links. Give me a couple of days, I might be able to suss it out and explain it to you (thanks for the links by the way). It is the eve of our fantastic country's independence day celebration after all.

Jack said:

How can we possibly have a discussion about the bill if you are too lazy read the bill?

Kevin said:

Geez, Jack, what a control freak. Like a good grasshopper I read your links. Now will you answer the questions?

AFF said:

"Some victims are more worthy than others?"

ughh- If you say so Jack but it is a stretch in some cases.

I don't the guy who kills a couple of 3 year old girls should do the same time as a guy who shot his wife and her lover when he found them in bed.

I don't think the guy who gets in a bar fight should do the same time as a guy who beats sleeping winos with baseball bats for fun

I think the general feeling is some CRIMES are worse than others and therefore deserving of a greater penalty.

I'll bet you guys didn't even know Lacross Boy had been previously arrested for assault of a gay man? -

Appearantly the guy was begging to be left alone "Yes I'm gay, yes I'm a faggot, please leave me alone. I don't want to fight you!"

Jack said:

"What's the actual issue with the new hate crimes legislation? Is it really asking for stiffer penalties across the board or is it looking to include more crimes under the rubric of "hate"? Or both?"

Those are your questions, Kevin. Since you read the bill (all 13 pages, double-spaced and with huge margins) you know the answers to your questions.

However, assuming there are other lazy people, I will still provide the answer: both.

jacob said:

AFF,
""Some victims are more worthy than others?"

ughh- If you say so Jack but it is a stretch in some cases."

Actually it is implicit in the idea of hate crimes legislation that some victims are more worthy than others. It is the very nature of the beast.

Kevin said:

Hmm. Maybe I clicked on the wrong links. I mean, read the bill that said it would grant money to States and the like in order to prosecute "hate" crimes when the expense of doing so goes outside of the budget of the State's normal prosecution allotment. I read a little about what classifies as a "hate" crime. And I read about what the penalties could be.

I guess I didn't click on the link that explained the history, why this bill was different than any other that had previously been passed. But thanks for answering cause that's sort of what I was politely inquiring about.

Jack said:

So why are victims of hate crimes more worthy than those of other crimes?

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