I understand the sentiment behind hate crimes legislation: I understand the well-meaning people who want to end the continuation of hate crimes
I understand the seeming high-minded and noble belief that we, as a society, must combat despicable human attitudes like racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia.
Yet I cannot support hate crime legislation, despite the good intentions behind it.
Despite the good intentions, the "noble" idea of enacting hate crimes legislation, I believe the end result is not a solution of discrimination but rather a perpetuation of discrimination.
The most noblest, high-minded ideals, when enacted and legislated, can result in evil.
Now, it is not evil to combat racism and unfair discrimination.
I remember reading a counter-protest in Austin, TX against a Neo-Nazi Rally that far outnumbered the Nazis themselves; some 20 Nazis vs some several thousand counter-protesters.
What I like about that instance was the protests highlighted the mass opposition to the debunk ideology of Nazism and white supremacy by exercising their right of assembly, their right of free speech, and their right of protest. The counter-protest voiced its opposition to the racist wet dream of stripping the innate rights away from minorities (religious, sexual, racial, ethnic minorities).
And yet, despite the media narrative of" good counter-protesters fight the evil Nazis", we have to keep in mind that many of the protesters, while good-hearted, did not protest and voice their opinions against the Neo-Nazi's belief system, but rather the fact the Nazis were holding a rally in the steps of the state Capitol.
I agree that the scene of Nazis, in their quaint brown-shirts and flying the swastika on the steps of my state's Capitol is repulsive. But despite their flaws, these people are humans, and have the right to rally, not just in the state Capitol, but any where that other interest groups hold their rallies and marches. Free speech is an innate, unalienable human right. But this right applies to all people, even those we disagree with.
We cannot be hypocritical and agitate to restrict the speech of those who want to do the same to others. Why stoop to their level?
The crux of my argument is that if we expect the majority to respect and tolerate the minority, then the minority and its supporters can not then ask for preferential treatment and protection from the government. If the goal of the civil rights movement was to demand the equal protection of all citizens under the law, any hate crimes legislation is anathema to the ideals of civil rights.
I am of the opinion that the way our justice system should enforce criminal law is if someone commits the crime, not why they committed the crime.
If I assaulted a Mexican guy, I would be naturally charged with assault and be tried for that crime. It should not matter if I assaulted the person because I though he was a dick or if he ran over my dog, assault is assault and the crime was committed regardless of rationale.
On the other hand, I assaulted that same guy, and if I was White, then I would not only be charged with assault, but also of suspicion of committing a hate crime against a minority. Right there and then, there's a suspicion of committing another crime, even if I had the assault had nothing to do with the race of the assaulted individual. Such legislation would adversely affect the presumption of innocence on the part of the individual who had committed a crime against the affected minority.
Following up on my example, even if a white person assaulted the Mexican guy out of racial animosity, then it should not matter the rationale for the assault. The person who has committed a crime should only be tried for the crime. Nothing else, nothing more.
Oddly, enacting hate crimes legislation would bolster hatred by some members of the majority towards minority groups. If there is the sense that the majority is purposely prosecuted for crimes against a minority, even as crimes against the majority by minorities are treated by the justice system in a completely different manner, then it should not surprise anyone that animosity against the minority group will rise.
Ironically, hate crimes legislation will simply fuel the fires of bigotry.
The intentions of the supporters of hate crimes legislation are not rooted in evil or malice. I just think that if we are serious in achieving true equal rights for racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities, then the goal is to eliminate laws that discriminate (e.g. drug laws, same-sex marriage laws, religious laws) against minority groups and achieve true equal protection under the law.