In an op-ed in today’s New York Daily News, I make the case for why Erika Menendez, the woman who allegedly pushed a Hindu man to his death in the subway, should NOT be charged with a hate crime:
It’s thus perplexing why, supposedly with the goal of rooting out bias within society in general, we would turn to a criminal justice system rife with prejudice. Enhanced sentencing under hate crime laws at best provides false comfort and at worst may compound injustice.
You can read the entire op-ed here.
In the wake of the sentencing of Dharun Ravi for alleged bias crimes leading to the death of Tyler Clemente, I wrote an essay for Fox News’ opinion page about why, as a progressive, I oppose enhanced sentencing hate crimes laws — and believe we all should.
I fundamentally believe that the way to root out bias crime in America and bias in general is by acknowledging all of our inherent prejudices and judgments and dealing with them openly.
In that case, hate crimes laws create a sort of false comfort that suggests we are not infected by nor furthering bias unless we’re blurting out epithets or scrawling hate screeds. That’s a dangerous and ultimately defeatist message to send to a society that has much work to do in rooting out discrimination from every crevice of our existence, not just in crime.
Back in the day, I wrote a piece for the NYU Review of Law and Social Change entitled “Greasing The Wheel: How the Criminal Justice System Hurts Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered People and Why Hate Crime Laws Won’t Save Them” It was provocative then, it’s provocative now. And apparently it’s online. Check it out.
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