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Hate Crimes

October 04, 1994

Re "The Outer Limits of Prosecution," editorial, Sept. 21:

The Times stated that "(hate-crime) cases can be difficult to prove." Thank goodness they are difficult to prove. It should be difficult to read the mind of a criminal to determine his or her motivation for committing a crime. Under the current "hate-crime" laws, if the perpetrator is thinking incorrect thoughts, such as bigotry, while committing a crime, then he will receive a stiffer sentence than if he were thinking thoughts such as greed, or revenge.

"Hate-crime" laws don't punish the criminal act itself, as regular laws do. "Hate-crime" laws actually punish the motivation, the thought behind the crime. Therefore "hate crimes" are essentially "thought crimes." And it is frightening to think you can be prosecuted for not only the crime, but also your thoughts that were expressed during the crime. In other words, to kill for money is terrible, but to kill because of race or sexual preference is far worse.

We may abhor bigotry. We may believe it is dangerous, but the Constitution guarantees everyone the right to think the most hateful, bigoted thoughts imaginable for any reason, or no reason whatsoever. Those who would want to create their personal vision of tolerance at all costs have set themselves up as mind-readers, a lofty position for frail humans. All crimes committed against all people should be treated as equally deplorable, regardless of motivation.

MICHAEL ALLEN

North Hollywood

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