Chicago Sun-Times, Ahmed Rehab: Hate crimes in a class of their own

In a recent column, Richard Roeper argued that pulling a Muslim woman’s headscarf may be mean, but it’s not a hate crime.

Fortunately, the law doesn’t criminalize being “mean” (how on Earth would that be defined anyway?)

What the law does do, however, is define a battery. Battery is intentional, unpermitted contact causing harm or offense by one person against another. That’s what Valerie Kenney did when she tried to pull off a Muslim woman’s headscarf at a Jewel in Tinley Park. Moreover, when a person commits such an offense because of hatred towards the victim because of their race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, etc., it becomes a hate crime. In other words, battery is one thing, battery based on bigotry is another.

Hate crimes are their own class of crime for a very good reason: The enhanced classification and punishment deters people from criminally acting out on their bigotry. It is the government’s obligation to its citizens to take a no-tolerance position on such crimes.

As for Kenney, I am confident that the justice system will determine the appropriate punishment for her. Though three years in jail and up to $25,000 is the maximum sentence, it’s not the only sentence option available. Our justice system entrusts judges and juries to make the fairest determination in light of the facts.

[Ahmed Rehab Chicago Sun-Times Original Link]

Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • email
  • Print
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Live-MSN
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
This entry was posted in Chicago Sun-Times, Published Articles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.