Our national legislators, in their infinite disregard for the will of the people, and the constraints of our Constitution, defined offenses against certain groups/classes as "hate crimes". To emphasize the importance of such acts, the Congress included additional penalties for these newly-defined crimes. The additional crime is now composed of thought, attitude and/or state of mind during the commission of the true criminal act. Hate crimes are crimes that are "motivated in whole or in part by a bias against the victim's perceived race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disability." Criminal acts are rarely committed out of love for the victim, and crimes against persons and property have always carried penalties.
When I say 'always,' I can only refer back as far as beginnings of recorded human history. Hammurabi, the ruler of Babylon from 1795-1750BC, was credited with the creation of the oldest known written set of laws. These laws were known as Hammurabi's Code or, alternatively, as the Code of Hammurabi (a rose by any other name, etc ...). Numbering a mere two hundred and eighty-two items, the Code was obviously written for much simpler times, and the punishments were also much simpler. Hammurabi's Code prescribed death as the preferred method of punishment for the majority of violations. Harsh? Perhaps by today's standards, but we must look at everything in its historical perspective. Life itself was harsh - from the beginning of time until the 19th century (for 'civilized' nations, anyway). Until the mid-1800s slavery was an accepted way of life throughout the world! Penalties have become much less draconian in the United States during the last 100 years ... which helps to explain our overcrowded prisons. I saw a statistic today claiming that the USA incarcerates 180,000 times the number of people that China does ... and if you think you know WHY, raise your hand. If you said, "China has a much, much higher execution rate than the USA", you are correct. And, if that statistic is accurate, it would mean that in the entire nation of China there are fewer than 16 people in prison (everybody who believes that, please leave the room!).
But, returning to my subject ... we, the people, are supposedly guaranteed "equal protection under the law", yet we have several classes of citizens who are more equal than most of us. Citizens with special protections. They are protected by crimes against race (unless that race is caucasian), religion (unless that religion is Christian), ethnicity (unless you are a WASP born in the United States), sexual orientation (unless your orientation is heterosexual), and disability (I hope that one, at least , cuts in all directions). Our liberal, activist judges have already marginalized freedom of speech by classifying the use of some words as hate crimes (whatever happened to "sticks and stones"?). I certainly don't encourage the use of those words, but they are just words! Can you call a 300 pound man "lard ass", but not call him a "lard ass faggot" if he's gay without going to jail? If the word is the only crime, then its use should carry no greater punishment than a jay-walking ticket ... "Twenty-five dollar fine for using an offensive word! Next case." If the crime is more serious, like murder, and the person was killed specifically for being a black, Jewish, wheel-chair bound, Malaysian lesbian, then prove 'the willful taking of a human life without just cause' in court. Then sentence the convict to die, and execute them. What will we do about the 'hate' part of the crime? Remove the TV from their cell? Take away their birthday? Execute them a second time? Serious crimes already provide for serious punishments! No matter how bad an attitude is, the attitude itself should not be a crime. It's the intentional physical act that may constitute a crime. It's not the word used, it's the deed carried out. Where will the dilution and erosion of our Constitution end ... before or after it no longer exists in any recognizable form?