Because you can still kill a fag, AND taunt his corpse in a recorded voice mail, but just serve 8 months.
I'll post the link to the full story from Pam Spaulding, although this story is posted on several sites including www.q-notes.com. I won't post the background here. Follow the story and links at Pam's place.
Just across the state line, this killer was plea bargained down to an outrageous deal only some months ago, but is coming up for a possible parole hearing soon.
Why is this important? Because it shows the continuing need for "hate crimes" laws.
"Hate Crimes" is such an unfortunate term. Even some progressives cringe at the phrase. However, take a moment to get past the phrase and look and the what the bill actually DOES.
When a term like "Hate Crimes bill" is thrown around; it is shorthand. The shorthand phrase has no more meaning than "TARP" does for the "bailout bill" recently passed by Congress.
Just as the "Troubled Asset Relief Package" didn't buy any troubled assets, the federal "hate crimes bill" has nothing to do with criminalizing hate.
The federal "hate crimes bill" from last session was actually called the Local Law Enforcement Act (HR 1592). The bill did not criminalize thought. It provided for exactly the kind of case referenced above where a local prosecutor and/or judge engaged in a shameful miscarriage of justice.
This "hate crimes" bill simply provides authority and funding for the federal government to step in to aid or prosecute a case when a local agency is unable or unwilling to do so.
Still have questions about the need for the Local Law Enforcement Act (aka the Hate Crimes bill)? Ask away. I'll try to be nice.
While I disagree with him
this is Andrew Sullivan's (who is gay) take on the issue:
Sullivan is a little blurry here himself
"Government" is not a single entity. When one arm fails to protect or "stop violence" to use Sullivan's terminology, another arm must step in.
why hate crimes are different
Hate crimes aren't actually about punishing hate. People are free to hate as much as they want. The reason hate crime are different is because when someone is targeted for violence because they are gay/black/Jewish/etc. they are not the only victim. Hate crimes are intended to terrorize an entire population; an entire community is being told their not safe and not welcome when victims are targeted based on group identification.
This is an issue I struggle with, because I really don't want to have to deal with "thought police". You're right - the violence categorized as "hate crimes" are meant to terrorize certain populations, and they generally do. It's domestic terrorism.