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A little more drama than strictly necessary - Input Junkie
September 19th, 2009
10:07 am

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A little more drama than strictly necessary
Last night, I heard a very loud "Whump!" and the sound of breaking glass.

It seems that someone had thrown a good-sized firework or somesuch at my next-door neighbor's house and broken the window. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

I've been living here since 1995. It's been a very safe and pretty quiet neighborhood.

Afaik, nothing is known about who did it or why. It could be a hate crime (the neighbors are Mexican), a personal grudge, or random destruction.

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From:madfilkentist
Date:September 19th, 2009 02:21 pm (UTC)
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The phrase "hate crime" is a very strange one. It contains the bizarre assumption that it's possible to hate only some groups of people (or to act on that hatred in a criminal way) but not others.

Regardless, that's scary to have happen so close to your home.
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From:nancylebov
Date:September 19th, 2009 03:11 pm (UTC)
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I think the idea of a hate crime is based on probability, not possibility.

If someone is killing people whose eyebrows meet in the middle, there's no history of such crimes, and when the unibrow killer is caught, there's no reason to think other people will take up that cause.

On the other hand, violence or serious threats directed at blacks, Jews [1], or homosexuals (as such-- not random killings or vandalism) in the US may well be part of a tendency towards more of the same.

[1] In the targeted killings of the past year or so, about as many Jews were killed as blacks. Violent anti-Semitism is on the fringe in this country, but it's definitely there.
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From:suecochran
Date:September 19th, 2009 04:08 pm (UTC)
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Hmm - I'm curious what you mean about the possibility of only hating some groups of people - why do you feel that it is a bizarre assumption? Do you think that in general people are only capable of hating everyone, and not just one group or groups? Just trying to understand what you mean. Please clarify if you can. Thanks.
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From:madfilkentist
Date:September 19th, 2009 04:30 pm (UTC)
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"Hate crime" laws specify classifications of people which are considered targets of such crimes, and the lists keep getting revised based on the winds of politics. The laws vary in what classifications are covered; race and ethnicity seem to be the most common, followed by religion, disability, and sexual orientation. This is a very rough guess; the ordering isn't really important, but the variability in the classifications covered shows the difficulty of objectively defining a "hate crime." I don't know of any case in which crimes committed against people based on their stated politics are "hate crimes." Gratuitous crimes committed because of really idiosyncratic hatreds (such as the example of eyebrows meeting in the middle) are never "hate crimes," even though the crime is just as bad, and just as much based on hatred, as one committed for any of the other reasons.
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From:madfilkentist
Date:September 19th, 2009 04:47 pm (UTC)
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I just thought of a better example. There have been a number of high-profile cases of students killing other students in the same school, apparently out a a generalized hatred of one's school environment. I don't think this is a "hate crime" under any existing laws.
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From:redbird
Date:September 19th, 2009 04:59 pm (UTC)
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Do you not see a difference between assaulting a stranger because of their (actual or perceived*) membership in a group that the criminal dislikes, and crimes committed for profit (e.g., mugging, or killing someone because you're named in the will) or personal animosity?

Or do you just think the law needs improvement? It may, as may other laws where intent is relevant to whether something is a crime, and if so, how serious a crime. But I haven't noticed people saying "'Depraved indifference' is a very strange phrase. What other kind of indifference to human life is there?" or "Why does it matter whether the person was shot in the course of an armed robbery?"

*A couple of years ago, gay-bashers murdered a straight man because he was walking down the street holding his brother's hand.
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From:nancylebov
Date:September 19th, 2009 06:22 pm (UTC)
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Do you not see a difference ....if he saw a difference, he'd agree with you. Treating a possible difference of perception as a failure doesn't strike me as a useful teaching method, and even if it were useful, I still detest it and would rather if you don't do it in comments here.

In re improving the law: I'm wondering if there could be a set of standards for amount of violence which would automatically establish groups as eligible for hate crime status. It would probably still end up with a political process-- especially since hate crimes seem to require a premise, and interpreting just what's going on in people's minds, especially when it affects punishment levels, is going to be a political process. On the other hand, it still might look and be more fair.
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From:redbird
Date:September 19th, 2009 06:36 pm (UTC)
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Sorry, that was meant as A or B: either he sees no difference (in which case he doesn't think there should be such laws), or he sees a difference but thinks current law is not a good way of addressing it.

And then there might be more than one reason he'd think that, including "mindset shouldn't be relevant," "we don't have a good way of finding state of mind," and "the categories are wrong."
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From:nancylebov
Date:September 19th, 2009 11:03 pm (UTC)
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It's ok.

One more example of the label being misleading: there's science fiction with no science-- van Vogt would be a good example and I think, so would Peter Hamilton.
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From:kgbooklog
Date:September 19th, 2009 07:07 pm (UTC)
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I'm wondering if there could be a set of standards for amount of violence which would automatically establish groups as eligible for hate crime status.

Current or historical amounts? Right now, I get the impression there is more violence directed towards abortionists than Jews, but that's a very recent phenomenon.
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From:nancylebov
Date:September 19th, 2009 07:20 pm (UTC)
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It would be complicated-- historical would count, but there would need to be some sort of rule for that fading with time.

There are at least two reasons for hate crime laws-- one is the sense of threat felt by the victims and members of the group the victim is in, and the other is that hate crimes make hate crimes seem normal to potential perpetrators.

The historical aspect is much more relevant for the first factor than the second.

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