Friday, October 12, 2007

Hate Crimes Update

As ridiculous as the concept of a "hate crime" is, here's evidence that hate crime laws are so poorly written that... get this... you don't even have to be a hater to get convicted of a hate crime. What?

In New York, Anthony Fortunato was just convicted of a hate crime against a gay man. That conjures up images of some homophobe violently attacking a homosexual, some old-fashioned gay-bashing, with a flurry of anti-gay epithets thrown in just to seal the deal. But is that what happened? Nope, not even close. Anthony Fortunato is himself gay, or at least bisexual.

He and some friends were low on money and dope and Fortunato had an idea to troll a gay chat room and find someone looking for a date. They lured Michael Sandy to some place and Fortunato's friends attacked him. He ran and as they chased him, he ran into the path of an oncoming car. Fortunato claims that he had no intention of beating the guy, only to try to get him to share some pot, and then maybe taking some money from him.

Well, here's the rub: Apparently in New York, you don't have to prove that the perpetrator hates gays, only that the victim was chosen based on his sexual orientation. So Fortunato was convicted of manslaughter as a hate crime.

So if you were thinking about stealing someones CD collection of show tunes, you may want to think twice. Could be a hate crime.

Logically, shouldn't this make all targeted robberies hate crimes? You might not hate old ladies, but you targeted one for purse-snatching because of her age and assumed frailty... You don't hate rich white folks leaving the opera, but you targeted them for their race and their assumed wealth...

It's bad enough we're creating thought police. If hate crimes laws are going to exist, the bar better be set pretty freakin' high - because the State is miraculously going to prosecute you for what they cannot know... what you are thinking. Merely "choosing a victim based on sexual preference" may involve stereotyping, but that hardly rises to the level of statutory "hate".