By Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen
Lots of hate crimes now? There is a lot more reporting of things that could be hate crimes, that is for sure, but is there really more hate crimes? I agree there is more fear in the world and more fear translates into more distress. More distress means less tolerance generally, and less tolerance means more crime and violence, so I guess the answer is yes there are more crimes based on hate these days than in the past.
But, is a crime that is based on hate, a worse crime than one based on greed or perversion or jealousy? Is the harm greater because one person assaults another for fooling around with a spouse or because they want to steal, than if one person assaults another because of his race, religion, gender or other basis? There is certainly an argument that the injury to the victim is the same. Our various states have grappled with the issue when they have enacted hate crime laws and try to figure how they ought to be punished.