Saturday, August 8, 2009

Hate Crimes and Dick Vitale

Why would anyone want to read a downer post about hate crimes? You must be bored. I try to keep my blog pretty neutral when it comes to politics or controversial issues, but this is a topic that drives me nuts each time I hear it being debated. It seems like such a no brainer. Do we really need the word hate on the front? It seems kind of obvious to me that if you stab someone you are probably leaning toward the hate side of the spectrum.

If you steal from someone because you hate them should you get a worse sentence than a person who steals from someone because they are crazy about them and have been stalking them for years? If someone mutters a racial slur or alludes to one's sexual orientation or religion as they are committing a crime is it really that much worse than the guy that does the same damage but keeps his mouth shut or simply whistles while committing a crime?

The problem I have with hate crimes is that someone is making a judgement call on the motivation and thoughts of the perpetrator instead of judging them for their actions. It kind of reminds me of Dick Vitale. Let me explain.

For those of you who may not know Dick Vitale, he is college basketballs most famous commentator. The problem is he really likes to comment and often does so in annoying fashion. If a player blocks another player's shot during a game, he won't just say "Morris just blocked Anderson" He has to interpret it and make a story out of it like:

"Oh baby! Morris just told Anderson No you don't, not in my house! Get that weak stuff out of here. I've worked two hard all these years to let someone score an easy layup on me like that on my home court and you're gonna start respecting me. There's more where that came from Baby!"

So Dick basically does the trash talking for the players and tells all the viewers what the athletes were thinking and how they felt during a play, kind of like a prosecutor might do during a hate crime trial. I don't care for it during a basketball game and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to see it in a court room either. That is unless someone committed a crime against me because they hated by blog. Then I would want the punishment to be twice as harsh for them.


Kristina P. said...

I have really mixed feelings on hate crimes. I was going to write something pithy and smart, but my mind went blank!

Eric said...

Yeah, I think you have it right.
It's wrong when they try to climb into someone's head to assign a more harsh sentance.

Criminals should go to jail, but when the court puts the burden of proof on a defendant to prove he wasn't jaywalking in a hateful way, they are really doing a number on due process. And we all lose.

Kimberly said...

(tapping fingers on desk...)

I don't think we really need the word hate on front of crime. It does go without saying, but it could be looked into further. Like say that I did like you, but not the subject matter in which you were talking about, so therefore, I made a concious desicion to say something hateful in the matter of the subject but not you, only in time it got twisted and ended that I hated you instead of the subject and then I would be thrown in jail because of the word "Hate" that I never really hated....

ANd oh never mind, I just went in circles...

Raine said...

I have been thinking about your post for a couple of days now. I knew that I disagreed with you, but could not think of why. Your argument that all crime is hate based is hard to discredit. In fact, I dont think you are wrong at all about this. I think what sets hate crimes apart from other crimes is the fact that this person is committing a crime against a whole group of people.

Let me give you an example. If a man beats his wife, he is committing a crime against her. Granted we can probably assume that he will beat other woman, but we don't know this. Maybe this woman just really pushed his buttons. On the other hand, if he beat this woman because she was black, then we can assume that he is a greater danger to society because he will obviously meet lots of black people everywhere. We can assume that he will indeed commit more crimes against people because they are black.

Does this make sense? I hope so.

Tom said...

Thanks for your comments. I know there is more to the issue than what I stated. My real objective was to write about Dick Vitale. Maybe next time I write a post about a controversial subject, I will try to find a way to tie it in to Dick Van Patten.