Hate Crimes: Should They Be Prosecuted More Aggressively?

COMMENTARY Crime and Justice

Hate Crimes: Should They Be Prosecuted More Aggressively?

Aug 17th, 2021 1 min read

Commentary By

Hans A. von Spakovsky @HvonSpakovsky

Election Law Reform Initiative and Senior Legal Fellow

Sarah Parshall Perry @SarahPPerry

Legal Fellow, Meese Center

Whether the criminal committed his horrible act because he is vicious or because he is a vicious racist does not change the harm suffered by his victim. Guy Cali / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

Some claim that “racism is a white problem,” but 2019 statistics released by the FBI show that, unfortunately, no race has a monopoly on racist behavior.

Some want to increase such prosecutions by defining so-called “hate speech” as a hate crime. “Cancel culture” and “trigger warnings” are bad enough,

We should celebrate one of our most cherished rights now in jeopardy of being cast aside—Freedom of Speech.

Some claim that “racism is a white problem,” but 2019 statistics released by the FBI show that, unfortunately, no race has a monopoly on racist behavior.

The FBI reported more than 7,100 hate crimes in 2019. Of the 6,406 known offenders, 52.5 percent were white, 23.9 percent were black, 10 percent Hispanic. Other races and ethnicities accounted for the rest. Their crimes ranged from rape and murder to robbery and vandalism. But while one such crime is too many, the total number of hate crimes reported annually is small relative to the size of the U.S. population.

While we agree that a judge may consider the racist attitudes of a convicted person as a possible enhancement when determining an appropriate sentence (especially if it was a motivating factor behind the crime), America guarantees its citizens equal justice under the law. From our founding, we have worked to achieve a justice system that punishes criminals and protects victims, regardless of their identities.

If someone is raped, the perpetrator should be severely punished, regardless of the race of the victim and regardless of the perpetrator's motivation. Whether the criminal committed his horrible act because he is vicious or because he is a vicious racist does not change the harm suffered by his victim. Whether a crime is classified as a “hate crime” or not, it must be thoroughly investigated—something most state authorities are eminently capable of doing—and the perpetrator brought to justice.

The hate crimes that are occurring are currently being prosecuted. Some want to increase such prosecutions by defining so-called “hate speech” as a hate crime. “Cancel culture” and “trigger warnings” are bad enough, but criminalizing speech that some find offensive?

Yes, many countries criminalize hate speech. In some places, blasphemy convictions can result in a death sentence. Thank God, we have a First Amendment—although that, too, appears to be under assault. And who will decide what is racist “hate speech” that should be criminalized?

This is nothing more than an attempt to silence those who express views on illegal immigration, racial preferences, abortion and other issues that the Left disagrees with because they say it “marginalizes” social groups.

Having just commemorated Independence Day, we should celebrate one of our most cherished rights now in jeopardy of being cast aside—Freedom of Speech.

This piece originally appeared in the CQ Researcher