I Hate Crime
Many are calling this a hate crime. In fact, sexual orientation was added to the Colorado hate crimes statute a couple years ago. By this law, when a crime such as assault is committed against someone in one of the protected classes because of his or her membership in that class, an additional $100,000 fine and/or six year prison term can be added to the sentence. Of course, the motivation has to be proven in order to convict for this additional charge.
So, let me get this straight. If the woman were beaten up because she wouldn't sleep with a man because he's a jerk, no additional charge. If she tells him she's gay as an excuse but really isn't, still no hate crime. But if she says she won't sleep with him because she's gay, then he has committed a much worse crime. This seems to me to be unfair to all of the other women who may also have been brutally beaten, but for "legal" reasons.
We have a laws against assault for very good reasons. If someone commits this crime, he should be punished appropriately. However, I have a serious issue with punishing someone for his thoughts. First of all, there is no way to know what is going through somebody else's head. Second of all, all of us have terrible thoughts on occasion. If we don't act on them, it is good and appropriate self control. If we don't we should be held accountable. Third, how do we judge which motivation is worth extra punishment? If someone is beaten up for the color of his skin, it is legally worse than being beaten for the color of his eyes. And lastly, this is the United States. Freedom of speech is protected in our constitution, and freedom of thought is much more basic.
Anybody who reads my blog regularly knows that I am not anti-gay. I've written many times in favor of gay rights. That is not what this is about. This is about making people responsible for their actions.
Let's have the Boulder police concentrate on finding the men who committed/enabled this crime, and let's try them, convict them based on the evidence of illegal action, and punish them.
Here's another thought experiment. If someone commits an act of kindness (say, donates to a church program that helps needy people), with the motivation of hate against one of the protected classes, does that mean they should be punished?