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Hate Crime

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2/18/2005

Hate Crime

Topic: Should Utah pass hate crime legislation?

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Representative LaVar Christensen (Member of Utah House of Representatives)

As our esteemed Attorney General states, the question is whether to independently enhance or increase the criminality of acting against specific classes of people with bias or prejudice and whether a separate enhancement statute is needed to accomplish that objective. I oppose that approach but emphasize that such does not mean that we sanction or condone the heinous acts of criminals that are typically cited as the type of "hate crimes" to be targeted and punished. Surely, we do not. Indeed, "heinous crimes" would likely be a more accurate title for the conduct we are seeking to address since it is society's outrage that is expressed through the proposed enhancement. Nonetheless, it must be convincingly demonstrated that justice is not served without it.

The Attorney General quotes Jefferson. I believe the more relevant citation from Jefferson is his warning regarding the folly of "creating crimes in order to punish them." I rely heavily on the "self evident truth" that "all men are created equal". I cannot accept the invitation to create a special class of persons with "enhanced" civil rights that rise to "enhanced" penalties when violated.

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