The new TV show Life on Mars features a cop thrown back in time to 1973. On a recent episode, the cop from 2008 calls an assault a "hate crime." His buddy, a cop from 1973, retorts, "As opposed to an "I really, really like you crime?""
His witty comeback points out the commonsense response to the idea of a "hate crime:" all violence comes from evil emotions. We should not classify some rapes as more hateful or some assaults as more biased. This belittles individual survivors; it categorizes them based on their group identity, not their personal rights as a human being.
In New York State, seven teens have been accused of a "hate crime" after a 38-year-old immigrant from Ecuador, Marcello Lucero, was attacked and stabbed to death. The assistant district attorney claims that the teens said, "Let's go find some Mexicans to -- -- up." She accuses them of a "well thought out crime targeting Hispanic males."
Say she's right. Say these seven teens murdered Marcello Lucero because he was the first Latin-looking man they saw and their agenda was to kill a Hispanic. That's appalling. But would Marcello's death be less horrible if the boys killed him because they wanted to gang-rape his wife? Would it be less hateful if they'd stabbed him to death so they could have a joy ride in his car? If they hadn't hated his race but had hated his wealth or his job or his resemblance to a man who had molested one of them-would the crime have been less evil?