Sweeping Hate Crimes Law Passes Senate
The hate crimes bill was offered as an amendment to a must-pass defense spending bill that the Senate is expected to finish some time next week. Several Republican amendments to the hate crimes legislation still could be considered on Monday, but Thursday's vote determined that it will be part of the defense bill when it passes.
Hate crimes laws come dangerously close to punishing thought, and freedom of thought is the foundation for all other freedoms. Change the civil laws if need be and make sure that police investigate and prosecutors charge crimes appropriately -- with financial assistance from the feds if need be. But there's no need for the Feds to get further involved in prosecuting state crimes and there's no need for increased penalties, especially when they are based on one's thought processes.
The bill is called The Matthew Shephard Hate Crimes Prevention Act. What happened to the defendants who murdered Matthew Shepard? One pleaded guilty and got life in prison without the possibility of parole -- no hate crime law needed.
The other, Aaron McKinney, went to trial and was convicted of second degree murder, felony murder, robbery and kidnapping. The robbery and kidnapping convictions enabled the prosecution to seek the death penalty. Before deliberations, Matthew Shephards' parents asked the prosecution to drop the death penalty in exchange for McKinney's agreement to two consecutive life sentences and a waiver of his right to appeal. No hate crime law needed there either.
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