I don’t know much about hate crimes or their legislation but I put together a few thoughts when I heard that Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (one note is that nothing has passed to make topics of speech hate crimes).
First, I think it points to some truths that are written on everyone’s heart. The motivation behind a crime is important. This is why the Lord gave Israel different consequences for intentional murder than for unintentional murder.
Second, a difference between hate crimes and intentional/unintentional murder is the defense’s ability to defend against hate crimes. One scenario would be a murder where a person of one race murders a person of another race. In this scenario the person did not hate the other person because of race but because he was from a different gang, an Asian gang. How would the defense attorney convince a jury that a hate crime should not be added to the sentence? It was murder so there was obviously hate there. It was also the murder of someone of a different race. And, on top of that, the murder probably wouldn’t have occurred if the person were not Asian. So if the murderer wouldn’t have killed the Asian women he saw in the store the day before, how does the defence prove that? So we need to be extremely thankful that God is just and will correct and sort out our miserable attempts at justice on earth.
Third, in our scenario, what are the chances of the same hate crime being added if that gang member murders a heterosexual white male in the prime of his life?
Fourth, isn’t there already a system by which the sentence can be extended because of the heinousness of the crime?
Fifth, we should be grateful that politicians are working to remove inequalities from laws that give protection for one group of people while excluding others.
In summary, today is a day to celebrate because our laws harbor less prejudice. But it is also a day for concern that some laws are created with a strong indication of being used in only some cases. But mostly it is a day for the praise of God, that He is sovereign and perfectly just to judge all circumstances, actions, and motivations.