Our penal system is out-of-whack. It’s evident by the fact that “sex crime” classifications vary widely by state, that heinous murderers have a better chance of dying of old age than by lethal injection and that owning an illegal silencer merits almost as hefty a jail sentence as manslaughter.
Perhaps nothing in our penal system more-dramatically underscores the absurdity of the system than “hate crime” laws.
Hate crime laws prioritize human lives. It creates a hierarchy of value on lives lost or of various crimes. Beat a white guy with a tire iron and call him an A-hole and it’s assault with a deadly weapon. Beat a black guy with a tire iron and shout a racial slur and it’s a hate crime and the assailant is punished to an infinitely harsher degree.
Of course, few should be willing to defend beating someone with a tire iron and few should be willing to defend shouting bigoted slurs. It’s not right and the crime should be punished absolutely. However, what conservatives often object to is not the punishment of crimes, but the focus on motivation of the assailant and the disparate treatment offered to victims of brutal attacks based on race, religion or sexual orientation.
However, if there is to be hate crime laws designed to prioritize life, Louisiana is considering the first of such legislation that makes sense: making targeting police officers a “hate crime.”
The bill, dubbed the “Blue Lives Matter” bill, would expand the state’s protection of certain classes to include police officers and other select uniformed emergency responders.
In Louisiana, committing an offense against a protected class generates a sentence with up to an additional five years imprisonment.
The bill passed both houses in Louisiana and is expected to be signed into law by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards who stated, “The members of the law enforcement community deserve these protections, and I look forward to signing this bill into law.”
Predictably, a number of people have lobbed criticism towards the law. The Anti-Defamation League maintained,
“Proving the bias intent for a hate crime for law enforcement or first responders is very different than proving it for someone who is Jewish or gay or black,” the Anti-Defamation League’s South Central regional director, Allison Padilla-Goodman said.
In truth, we should do-away entirely with hate crime legislation and it promotes the value of some lives over others.
However, if we are to have such laws, protecting the men and women who serve our communities with enhanced penalties is a great idea that is long overdue.