Thursday, May 22, 2008

Letter From Crown Heights: Bias Laws Reexamined
Citizens of Crown Heights and New Yoek City welcomed the news that two youths, 14 and 16 years old were apprehended in the brutal beating of Alon Sherman, age 16. It is likely that the 14 year old will be tried as an adult.
I have viewed with increasing frustration the debate over whether or not Sherman's attackers should be charged with a bias crime. As long as such laws exist, I feel that such charges should be considered against Sherman's attackers.
I feel that bias laws take the focus away from the brutality in crimes of violence. The classification of attacks as bias related has become highly politicised. Are whites who are disproportionately chosen in black areas as robbery victims targets of racial profiling? This question has not even been asked, let alone answered.
To be very blunt and even politically incorrect, blacks and Jews enjoy the most attention from the declaration of bias in crime classification. White people come in distant third place, although there is undoubtedly anti-white racism in American society.
It is very frightening to have a gun pointed in one' face or have the lives of one's children threatened. Like many of my African American neighbours, I have had this experience. Statistics prove them to be more likely to be victims of violent crimes. I feel that the focus in punishment should be on a combination of factors such as brutality, depravity, premeditation helplessness of the victim and motive, be it bias or otherwise. Bias should increase the severity of punishment, as should other factors. But bias is a state of mind and should not be subject to punishment as a separate statute. Bias laws do whites an injustice in their infrequent enforcement on their behalf. And they take needed attention away from the endemic brutality suffered by African Americans at the hands of other African Americans.
It is praiseworthy that racism and bigotry are condemned by the overwhelming majority of Americans. We should continue to protect the right of all citizens to be free from fear. But we need to re examine a set of well intentioned laws that have had unforseen results. A state of mind should not be a crime. There are enough laws on the books today to protect us. It is time to protect all Americans with laws that punish actions and not thoughts. Sphere: Related Content

No comments: