According to CNN, two separate hit-and-run deaths have spurred controversy in Mississippi about hate crime reports.
The victims in both accidents were African-American, and authorities did not investigate the possibility of hate crimes in either instance.
Civil rights groups and minorities are now questioning why hate crimes are not reported more often in Mississippi.
According to the FBI, no hate crimes were reported in Mississippi in 2005, 2006 or 2007. In contrast, other states like California reported thousands of hate crimes. Why does Mississippi, a state with a history of racial controversy, have a low rate of hate crimes?
Mississippi, along with three other states (Indiana, New Mexico and Ohio), doesn’t have a Uniform Crime Reporting program. Without uniform programs, these states are not required to report hate crimes.
According to Congress’ definition, a hate crime is a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.”
Much controversy has arisen from hate crime laws that carry harsher punishment for those who commit violent acts with biased intent. Criminals who are charged with a hate crime have extra punishment tacked on to their sentences.
But what does that imply about crimes committed without an apparent bias against a victim’s race or religion? Are those crimes “less hateful” than crimes committed against minorities?
Instead, all crime should be viewed as hateful and should carry consistent punishment.
A USA Today article cited Tom McClusky, vice president for government affairs at Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., as saying that all violent crimes are hate crimes.
“What drives an individual to commit a violent crime but hate for their victim?” McClusky asked.
Hate is inherent to crime. Murder, theft, sexual assault and arson are all products of man’s fallen nature and are rooted in hate of others, of oneself or of a situation. A crime is a crime, no matter against whom it may be committed.
While crimes that are committed with intent to harm a specific group of people are wrong and should receive retribution, should a crime like the random murder of an elderly man receive less of a penalty?
Crime underlines the truth that man is fundamentally sinful, so every victim of a crime is the recipient of hateful actions, not just victims of a minority group.