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View Full Version : Moral question. Racist v Non-racist murder.



Leslie Presley
06-03-2005, 23:58
Honest question.

Read in the paper yesterday that 4 murderers found guilty of commiting a racist murder learnt that they would be eligible for early parole, as the court of appeal decided in fact that the murder was not racist.

Can someone please explain the moral justification for this?

Why are 'racist' murders 'worse' than any other?

Does it help the victims family to know that little Johnny was killed not because he was black/white, but because he was an Arsenal supporter?

Of course, Johnny is still dead!

To me, it implies that the murder was 'more justified' because it wasn't 'racist.'

This is the logic of the IMO - and goes a long way in explaining why England is going downhill fast!

yankee@moscow
07-03-2005, 00:28
When someone is dead, they are dead. Murder is murder! What's the difference why? If someone kills me, do you think I'm going to be worried why? I'm still dead.

I think the reasoning is to stop racists from contemplating racial murder for fear of greater punishment? It's kind of a inane argument.

Filimon
07-03-2005, 00:29
Originally posted by Leslie Presley
Honest question.

Read in the paper yesterday that 4 murderers found guilty of commiting a racist murder learnt that they would be eligible for early parole, as the court of appeal decided in fact that the murder was not racist.

Can someone please explain the moral justification for this?

Why are 'racist' murders 'worse' than any other?

Does it help the victims family to know that little Johnny was killed not because he was black/white, but because he was an Arsenal supporter?

Of course, Johnny is still dead!

To me, it implies that the murder was 'more justified' because it wasn't 'racist.'

This is the logic of the IMO - and goes a long way in explaining why England is going downhill fast!

Nothing to do with "more justified", everything to do "aggravating circumstances". Racial abuse is an offence, murder coupled with racial abuse/motive is murder with aggravating circumstances.

Consider this: Johnny's murderer is convicted but it is proven in court that he acted in self-defence. Or he was provoked. These are mitigating circumstances. Johhny is still dead, but "there is a nuance" (do you know this joke?).

Crazyeelboy
07-03-2005, 02:08
Leslie:

This raises the old "hate crime" issue. having "hate crime" laws is a bad idea.

First off, a murder or other attack is equally horrible for the victim (and society) regardless of whether there was racist intent in the heart of the criminal. So, the hate crime aspect neither aggrivates the crime, nor does lack of racial hate mitigate the offence.

Second, making the same crime somehow worse because of the substantive and subjective thoughts of the criminal starts to open the door to institution of thought crimes and we don't even want to start down that road.

Mental state is a factor in mitigation or aggrivation, but the focus is not on substantive feelings about an issue (even racism), but rather about the mental state in relation to the act of the crime itself. For example, one difference between manslaughter and murder (in most US states) can be premeditation, or acting in "cold blood" planning the crime before the act. This is how a "crime of passion" can be manslaughter - no time or mental state to undertake planning and premeditation.

Also, as for self defence, in most US states, self defence is a defence rather than a mitigating circumstance.

Filimon
07-03-2005, 11:58
Originally posted by Crazyeelboy
Leslie:

This raises the old "hate crime" issue. having "hate crime" laws is a bad idea.

First off, a murder or other attack is equally horrible for the victim (and society) regardless of whether there was racist intent in the heart of the criminal. So, the hate crime aspect neither aggrivates the crime, nor does lack of racial hate mitigate the offence.

Second, making the same crime somehow worse because of the substantive and subjective thoughts of the criminal starts to open the door to institution of thought crimes and we don't even want to start down that road.

Mental state is a factor in mitigation or aggrivation, but the focus is not on substantive feelings about an issue (even racism), but rather about the mental state in relation to the act of the crime itself. For example, one difference between manslaughter and murder (in most US states) can be premeditation, or acting in "cold blood" planning the crime before the act. This is how a "crime of passion" can be manslaughter - no time or mental state to undertake planning and premeditation.

Also, as for self defence, in most US states, self defence is a defence rather than a mitigating circumstance.

Lack of racist aspect DOES NOT mitigate the crime. Its existence does aggravate it. Aggravating or mitigating circumstances do not influence the conviction itself, they only affect the severity of the sentence. That is why I said "IF Johhny's murderer is CONVICTED of murder, but acted in self-defence..." It's a hypothetical situation, ideally self defence is a defence.

Furthermore, the difference between the murder and manslaughter IS criminal intent. All crimes have two main components: criminal act (actus reus) and criminal mind (mens rea). Absence of actus reus negates a crime (merely thinking about murder isn't a crime). Absence of mens rea negates some crimes (such as theft: if you do not intend to steal, i.e. to permanently to deprive the owner of use, then it's not theft;), but it's not required for other crimes (manslaughter: killing by accident or without intent).

The person in question was convicted WITH aggravating circumstances, when it later transpired that such circumstances did not exist. Thus his crime was NOT mitigated, it's just that the aggravating factor was taken out. What's the problem? If you were convicted for causing death by dangerous driving with the aggravating factor of being drunk at the time, wouldn't you say it would have been fair that, if it later had transpired that you were sober as a judge, you sentence was cut?

Crazyeelboy
07-03-2005, 14:19
The difference in the mens rea for criminal intent and the mental state for a hate crime are critical. Mens rea for criminal intent to make something a crime essentially goes to whether the criminal intended to commit the crime or the, but does not go into WHY they might have intended to commit the wrongful act.

Going in for these hate crime things essentially provide for a greater punishment for someone based upon their attitude toward a race, not their mens rea creating criminal intent. Ultimtely, it makes it against the law to hate other races, and that is thought crime.

Filimon
07-03-2005, 15:51
Originally posted by Crazyeelboy
The difference in the mens rea for criminal intent and the mental state for a hate crime are critical. Mens rea for criminal intent to make something a crime essentially goes to whether the criminal intended to commit the crime or the, but does not go into WHY they might have intended to commit the wrongful act.

Going in for these hate crime things essentially provide for a greater punishment for someone based upon their attitude toward a race, not their mens rea creating criminal intent. Ultimtely, it makes it against the law to hate other races, and that is thought crime.

Erm... not strictly correct. Hating other races does make you a racist and a bigot. It doesn't make you a criminal. Inciting race hate does. Actus reus, remember?

As for racial factor, as I said, it is an aggravating component, not a component of the crime per se.

Crazyeelboy
07-03-2005, 17:33
I am fully aware of the need for the wrongful act in a crime (without an attack or other act creating a victim, there is no crime, unless the statute is drawn otherwise like it seems to be in Germany), but perhaps our diagreement here is that we are approaching this from different angles. You seem to be focused on how one might technically try to make punishment of hate crimes work, but I am focused on why it is wrong to even try.

By making one's beliefs about an issue either punishable in itself (making it the crime) or making it the basis for increasing punishment for an act (as an aggravating circumstance), one essentially establishes state sanctions against particular types of thought on issues.

Basically, under the aggravationg circumstances approach you describe, a guy gets 20 years for murder if he hates an individual, but he gets 40 years if he hates that person's race. Essentially, he gets an extra 20 years for his substantive attitudes and beliefs, not for his criminal intent (mens rea), and that is thought crime.

The whole mens rea thing goes to whether he had criminal intent in doing the murder. This mens rea should have nothing to do with his hate - the question is did the criminal intend and knowingly seek to cause the harm or death of the victim, not whether he hated that victim as a person or as a member of a race.

I know that several jurisdictions have passed hate law statutes, etc., but the question in this thread is about the morality of this policy. Punishing substantive attitudes and beliefs, either directly or as aggravating circumstances in determining punishment is thought crime and we should object whenever the state seeks to punish people for what they believe (no matter how repulsive or negative that belief is).

Filimon
07-03-2005, 17:53
Originally posted by Crazyeelboy
I am fully aware of the need for the wrongful act in a crime (without an attack or other act creating a victim, there is no crime, unless the statute is drawn otherwise like it seems to be in Germany), but perhaps our diagreement here is that we are approaching this from different angles. You seem to be focused on how one might technically try to make punishment of hate crimes work, but I am focused on why it is wrong to even try.

By making one's beliefs about an issue either punishable in itself (making it the crime) or making it the basis for increasing punishment for an act (as an aggravating circumstance), one essentially establishes state sanctions against particular types of thought on issues.

Basically, under the aggravationg circumstances approach you describe, a guy gets 20 years for murder if he hates an individual, but he gets 40 years if he hates that person's race. Essentially, he gets an extra 20 years for his substantive attitudes and beliefs, not for his criminal intent (mens rea), and that is thought crime.

The whole mens rea thing goes to whether he had criminal intent in doing the murder. This mens rea should have nothing to do with his hate - the question is did the criminal intend and knowingly seek to cause the harm or death of the victim, not whether he hated that victim as a person or as a member of a race.

I know that several jurisdictions have passed hate law statutes, etc., but the question in this thread is about the morality of this policy. Punishing substantive attitudes and beliefs, either directly or as aggravating circumstances in determining punishment is thought crime and we should object whenever the state seeks to punish people for what they believe (no matter how repulsive or negative that belief is).

Again, as I said, mens rea has NOTHING to do with hate. Hate is an aggravating factor. Without hate it would still be a crime. Without mens rea it would be totally different crime, or no crime at all.

As an aggravating factor, the only thing that race hate influences is the punishment. Punishment takes into account the likelihood of re-offending on release. If you murdered Joe Bloggs because he poisoned your cat, you must be punished. If you are released (leaving aside technicalities as to why you would be), then the possibility of you murdering someone would be quite low, since the object of your hate is gone.

If you killed Joe Bloggs because he was black on the other hand, then on your release you may go and shoot Joe Shloggs because he is black, then Mary Gloggs, because she is black and so on. The likelihood of re-offending is higher, because race hate is directed at a category of people, not just one person. So the punishment is more severe to take into account this factor.

It is a technical and fairly cynical view. Law is an **** as you know. However, there are formulae throughout the law, which must be used in order for the law to be effective.

Wikipedia Brown
07-03-2005, 19:24
If I murder someone, I get thrown in jail and they throw away the key.

If I'm a bigot and I murder someone, I get thrown in jail and they throw away the key, then they find it, then they throw it away again.

Is it me or are they being a little lax on murderers these days?

Zephyr
11-03-2005, 09:03
A human kills another human and the state comes down like a ton of bricks, The state murders millions and everything is cool.

koba65
11-03-2005, 09:55
Originally posted by Zephyr
A human kills another human and the state comes down like a ton of bricks, The state murders millions and everything is cool.

"One death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic." Io.V. Dzhugashvili

Zephyr
13-03-2005, 12:52
Abraham Lincoln is credited with having abolished slavery at a cost of 618,000 American lives, 2% of the entire population. (An equivalent death toll would wipe out 5 million Americans today). Everywhere else in the world, slavery was abolished at about the same time with hardly a single corpse. The Great Emancipator might better be cursed than praised.
So tell me about statitistics again.