Skip to main content

Tyler and Trayvon

IN 2009 President Obama signed a federal bias crimes law named for the victims of two gruesome 1998 atrocities: the young gay man who was tortured, lashed to a fence and left to die; and the black man chained to the back of a pickup by white supremacists and dragged until he was dismembered. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act joined a 40-year accumulation of statutes declaring that crimes committed with a mind full of racial spite or anti-Semitism or homophobic hatred should be punished more severely than identical crimes committed for greed or vengeance.

Today the notion is embedded in our culture. Almost every state has some variety of hate crime law. The most recent F.B.I. count, for 2010, reports 6,628 “criminal incidents” involving bias — instances where local authorities judged that the offender was motivated by hatred of a particular group. The Supreme Court unanimously upheld disparate penalties for bias crimes in 1993. The A.C.L.U., after years of resisting, endorsed a hate crime bill in 2005.

But the fact that it is constitutional and commonplace does not quiet the nagging sense that hate crime legislation resembles something from an Orwell dystopia. Horrific crimes deserve stern justice, but don’t we want to be careful about criminalizing a defect of character? Because our founders believed that democracy requires great latitude for dissent, America, virtually alone in the developed world, protects the right to speak or publish the most odious points of view. And yet the government is authorized to punish you for thinking those vile things, if you think them in the course of committing a crime.

Read on...

This is an New York Times op-ed. Tom

Comments

David Cohn said…
I think there should be criminal lawyer board in between, this will make decision making really fast.

Popular posts from this blog

Four Ways 3D Printing May Threaten Security
"3D printers already produce everything from prosthetic hands and engine parts to basketball shoes and fancy chocolates. But as with any technological advance, new possibilities come with new perils.​​​​​​​
A new RAND paper, Additive Manufacturing in 2040: Powerful Enabler, Disruptive Threat, explores how 3D printers will affect personal, national, and international security. The paper is part of RAND's Security 2040 initiative, which looks over the horizon to anticipate future threats.
The same technology that might one day custom-print heart valves can just as easily produce gun parts. The same machines that allow astronauts on the international space station to print their own tools might also help a state like North Korea print military or industrial equipment to get around international sanctions...."

They May Cause Harm

by digby



Here's a great article on the use of tasers and what's becoming an important part of the debate --- the fact that they are killing people with them:

On a balmy fall night, two police officers in a squad car in east Bradenton spotted a man on a bicycle without a headlight.

Derrick Humbert, 38, rode a bike around town because seizures from a head injury prevented him from driving. He worked odd jobs as a short-order cook and gardener. He took care of his three kids, 2, 8 and 11, while their mother worked the evening shift at a 7-Eleven.

On this Monday in late September, he was riding home from a convenience store just after midnight when police told him to stop.

Instead, he pedaled around a corner past three houses, jumped off the bike and ran into a yard, the two officers chasing him on foot.

Read on...

The Way of The Gun

Iconic characters from crime fiction's most popular writers reflect on their tools of the trade.



JOE PIKE, BusinessmanGUN: KIMBER CUSTOM II MODEL 1911 .45 ACP“The best semiautomatic combat pistol made. The lowered ejector port, full-length guide rail, beveled magazine well and superb tolerances give outstanding out-of-the-box accuracy and reliability. The big .45 ACP bullet is heavy and slow, but that’s what you want. A lighter, faster bullet will punch through a man, carrying its energy with it. A .45 hollowpoint flattens and dumps its energy into the target like a truck T-boning a Prius. You don’t need to double-tap with the .45. One shot will knock a big man off his feet. LAPD SWAT uses the Kimber. USMC Special Operations Command (Force Recon) uses it. I use it. That’s all you need to know.”WRITER: ROBERT CRAISRead on...