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The Contender
Pro (for)
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Hate Crime Laws: Are hate crime laws fair and judicially sound?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/26/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 320 times Debate No: 72420
Debate Rounds (2)
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Votes (1)




Absolutely not. No where else in our judicial system is motive for a crime a punishable offence. There is no proper way to regulate, or police it. Once thoughts on actions become punishable, our freedom to think is gone. Hate crime laws are an effort at thought control masquerading as legitimate criminal justice legislation. If two people commit the same crime, they deserve the same punishment. One should not be deemed greater than the other because of the thoughts that motivated the act or were expressed through it. If your loved one was killed by someone on a whim while someone else was killed for the terrible reason of hate, would you accept the killer of your loved one receiving a lesser charge? If your answer is no, you cannot in good conscience support these misbegotten laws.


In fact your initial claim, that "nowhere else in our judicial system is motive for a crime a punishable offence." is untrue. We differentiate between first and second degree murder, and manslaughter on the basis of the motivation and intent. No one is protesting that the legal system cannot factor in premeditation in a murder case; hate crimes are comparable.

Next, hate crimes are not thought control anymore than our laws regulating killing. No one would say that it is thought control to punish a man who shot his wife and her lover after walking in on them in the heat of the moment less harshly than a man who carefully planned the killing weeks in advance. Yet here the government is judging that the motive of heated and sudden rage is less blameworthy than a calculated decision, after weighing the odds and understanding that you're breaking the law.

Hate crimes make this addition to the criminal code: Desire to hurt someone because of the group they belong to is an additional offense beyond personal motives. It is a recognition that the moral system of the society has evolved to include strong condemnation of targeting some specific group.

I personally would not support the killer of my loved one receiving a lesser charge because I would in that situation care only for the loss I suffered. But if the society has chosen that course, then it is not for a lone individual to contradict it.

The interest of society to condemn racism is greater than my personal interest to receive revenge.
Debate Round No. 1


Your initial assertion is incorrect, Intention is the differentiation between involuntary manslaughter, 1st, and 2nd degree murder. If one did not intend to kill, it is involuntary manslaughter, if one did, it is murder. Both forms of murder are viewed as motivated. In the rare case of voluntary manslaughter, again, it is not the motive that is judged, but rather the circumstance of the action. Both 1st and 2nd degree murders are motivated, and intended. Only premeditation determines them.

Your second point is a gross misappropriation of my initial argument, and an irrational straw man argument to make. I've made no argument against punishing those who commit crimes, rather that they should only be punished for the crimes that they've committed. Now, by the assertion that hate motivated crimes should be punished more harshly, you are in fact promoting the idea that a crime of passion should be harsher than one of random violence, as hatred was involved. Unless, of course, you're suggesting this form of hate is acceptable. At which point I ask, where do you draw the line?

Hate crimes cause additional divisiveness in our society, as you so rigorously show in your third paragraph, it is up to the state to know the thoughts that went into the action of the crime. The moral system of our society should further evolve to make all people equal, and stop playing thought police on the populace.

The point I was making with the potential loss of your loved one, is no one would be ok with this, and because of this, society is, in fact, not in support of this type of additional punishment. Few will ever have to deal with this magnitude of a crime, and as such, it is just relegated to "a crime against racist acts".

Punishment for "hate crimes" has nothing to do with condemning racism, or any other form of bigotry. It is simply a way for thin-skinned individuals to feel better about themselves for thinking that they are condemning bigotry. Meanwhile, criminals have to serve more than their fare share of a penalty because the state felt the need to play god, and choose that the thoughts behind their crime were more incriminating that the thoughts of the same crime from someone else.

If hate crimes were abolished, humans could be punished for the basis of their crimes alone, all humans would be seen and treated as equals, and the big-brother-esque penal state would be more fair and balanced.


1. Intention is a subset of motivation. "Circumstance of the action" = motivation. You're obfuscating.

2. You have made an argument against punishing those who commit crimes: hate crimes. The motivation can affect the nature of the crime; I've demonstrated that clearly. Even were that not the case, society is free to change the law based on no precedent if it so chooses. Society is who determines what forms of hate are to be formally penalized when they lead to actions. You are free to hate so long as it doesn't lead to illegal actions.

3. Your point on additional divisiveness is pure speculation. I could say the opposite, equally unsupported, that hate and divisiveness will be reduced by penalizing it when it translates to actions. And I could also say that the moral system of our society will be evolved through the message sent by these laws.

4. Your remaining remarks are irrelevant as they depend on motivations not entering into the law. This is absurd, and I've disproven it. Another example where motivations enter into the law is divorce law, where judges make decisions about the welfare of the children based on subjective and objective factors both.
Debate Round No. 2
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1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by salam.morcos 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct and spelling/grammar was ok from both sides. No one provided sources. I think Pro would have done better if he suggested that hate is a form of opinion which is protected by the consititution. Pro would have been better by showing the impact of a hate message - a religious hate message can lead to atrocities (Rwanada, Islamic terrorism). But regarding the arguments today, I think Pro did a better job rebutting Con's arguments. He also showed how intent can be considered illegal (first degree murder...etc). He could have use the example of "conspiring to commit a crime" which is a crime for intent. My vote goes to Pro.