I read this sad story in the Orange County Register this morning about a gay Huntington Beach couple whose home was recently tagged with anti-gay graffiti.
Huntington Beach Police are investigating the graffiti and are handling the case as a hate crime.
Conservatives in this country have often said that prosecuting someone for a hate crime is punishing that person for their thoughts, and that hate crime legislation is another Ã¢â‚¬Å“special rightÃ¢â‚¬Â that is awarded to the homosexual community.
In reality, hate crimes are much more than thought crimes, as Eric Zorn pointed out in the Chicago Tribune a couple of weeks ago. When one commits a crime based on hatred for a particular group or race, he is actually committing two crimes. One crime is the illegal offense (far too often a violent one) and the other is the threat that is made to the other members of that group or race.
So in the case of the Odoherty home getting vandalized in Huntington Beach last weekend, the crime is vandalism. Hate crime foes believe that it shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t matter if the vandal painted a smiley face, or if he painted a hostile, anti-gay slur.
I agree that graffiti is annoying no matter how you cut it, but the anti-gay slur is a threat to other homosexuals in the areaÃ¢â‚¬Â¦watch your back, you could be next.
Here is how the Human Rights Campaign words it:
Hate Crimes Affect More than Just the Individual Attacked. All violent crimes are reprehensible. But the damage done by hate crimes cannot be measured solely in terms of physical injury or dollars and cents. Hate crimes rend the fabric of our society and fragment communities because they target a whole group and not just the individual victim. Hate crimes are committed to cause fear to a whole community. A violent hate crime is intended to Ã¢â‚¬Å“send a messageÃ¢â‚¬Â that an individual and Ã¢â‚¬Å“their kindÃ¢â‚¬Â will not be tolerated, many times leaving the victim and others in their group feeling isolated, vulnerable and unprotected.
According to 2004 FBI statistics, hate crimes based on sexual orientation constituted the third highest category reported and made up 15.5 percent of all reported hate crimes. Only race-based and religion-based prejudice crimes were more prevalent than hate crimes based on sexual orientation.