The Electric Commentary

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Defining "Hate Crimes"

Owen at Boots and Sabers makes an excellent point about "hate crimes" in the context of Wisconsin politics. Two UW students were showing two out-of-town guests just how liberal Madison is (and it it pretty frickin liberal) by showing them the door of the LGBT liaison in one of the dorms. The four made some potentially offensive comments and tore down some signs and posters. They are facing felony charges of disorderly conduct and criminal damage to property as hate crimes. If convicted they could each face up to three years in prison and $20,000 in fines. Meanwhile in Milwaukee four men accused of slashing tires to curb the Republican "get-out-the-vote" effort accepted a plea bargain in which prosecutors would recommend probation. Granted, the four tire-slashers initially faced charges with similar maximum penalties to the poster-rippers. I suppose it is possible that a similar plea will be reached in this case. But my question is why isn't it a "hate crime" to vandalize because you hate Republicans just as it is when you vandalize because you hate gays?

(Full disclosure: I don't hate gays as a group at all. Not one iota. And I do kinda hate Republicans. At least in their current manifestation. So my take on this should count for something, right?)


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