Transgender murder victim stabbed in genitals and set on fire 'not a hate crime'

This adds special circumstances which leads to a harsher punishment. Yes, murder is murder, but killing someone because they are part of a vulnerable or protected group is worthy of additional punishment.

Seems reasonable to me.


I see a substantive difference between the cases you cite and so-called hate crimes. I know that puts me in a minority.

Hate crimes target not just the victim(s) directly affected, but the larger community which is being targeted/threatened through these victim(s).

They affect the (putative) community but I doubt that, when contemplated and when committed, they’re targeted at anyone but the victim, by and large. Yes, because of their status, but these are (IMO) not well-thought out with wider intimidation as a goal. Effect, not cause.


I see no problem with increasing punishment for the underlying crime based on degree. I do have a problem with creating a class of crimes that centers on thought.

Isn’t this often a huge failing of our criminal justice system? Context matters. Intent matters. Just focusing on outcomes doesn’t address the root causes of social injustice (and makes it harder to apply leniency when indicated).

So look, I’m biased. I admit it. But I truly believe the response to this horrific crime needs to address the real fear transgender people experience.


Adding hate means adding victims. Lots of them.


What does this even mean?


In the story we are discussing, how many victims were there? One? No. One person was murdered but there are thousands of additional victims, none of whom happened to be present during the murder.

There is a threat made to others. That in itself is a crime.


I can only repeat that I recognize the nature and root of the crimes and the instinct we have to punish behavior we find repellent. But emphasis on behavior please: I disagree that hate should be a crime in itself. The very notion of ‘hate crime’ reeks of ‘thought crime’.

Punishment is not the only or even the most useful part of hate crimes legislation.

They help bring resources to solve crimes. They most importantly allow higher levels of government to intervene when locals try to cover up or just don’t investigate these crimes because of the social animus towards a class of people.

And they send a strong educational message that violence that society accepts towards some is actually wrong and will actually be investigated and prosecuted.


Threatening a group with violence is not a thought. It’s an action.

Brandishing a weapon with the intention of making others fearful is itself a crime. You could say these kinds of murders are an extreme form of brandishing. One of their purposes is to make a population fearful.


You are conflating two very different things.

I hate when kids wear their pants at their knees. Drives me nuts. I keep thinking “do you know what a god damn belt is for?!” But I do not go around with my nail gun ensuring their pants are at the level where I want them to be.

In this case. Do you realize what the difference is between this young trans lady and every other non trans young lady? Here it is: .

THAT is why this is a hate crime and should be punishable accordingly.


Isn’t motive an intensifier? If someone commits a murder because they were paid to do so, or for sexual kicks, I’d expect them to be treated more severely than if they were motivated by fear or compassion.


"She was transiently living between friends’ couches in Texas County and her mother’s home about two hours north, in House Springs, since around the same time she came out, her mother said.

“(She) always had enough food and clothes and water, still safe, never in a bad environment,” Amber Steinfeld said. “Obviously until then.”"

This kid was 17 years old. I can’t help but note that even though LGBT kids are 7% of youth - they make up 40% of homeless youth- translids very likely a higher % than that. 90% of homeless transkids were kicked out by parents for coming out.

These kids are more often preyed upon / don’t go to school- aren’t well served in shelters and often end up in survival sex.

We need to change the worlds perceptions of transkids - provide better supports - and work to help families that can to accept them.



Yes, and I should have stated that more carefully. I do believe that motive (which unlike intent is not generally an element of proving a crime) matters and I do believe it can be a factor in punishment, for many of the reasons stated here.

What I find problematic is the creation of a separate class of crime, charged and prosecuted differently based on supposed motivation. This is, I have contended, tantamount to thought crime.

Prosecute the underlying crime, and intensify the punishment in whatever way satisfies the expressed will of the people. That’s it, that’s all. We don’t need to have ‘hate crimes’ to do that.

1 Like

IANAL and IANAA, but I don’t think it works that way, right? The exact same murder can be charged a different degree in the US based solely on intent (thoughts) of the murderer, right? (1st degree being premeditated, 2nd degree being not)? The “degree” is what you were thinking at the time, and in many places, “crimes of passion” are 2nd degree and nonlethal, while premeditation means capital punishment.

In many other categories of crimes, proving intent is the most important identifier of punishement, too: If you were willful, versus accidental in action often comes down to defining what you were thinking at the time.

Your argument that determining what you were thinking shouldn’t be part of the US legal system seems, at least to this outsider, to in fact be one of the key portions of almost every “severity based on degree” sentencing in the books, and therefore seems to utterly diminish the argument that hatred isn’t a good basis for punishing people.


maybe don’t think of hate as a required predicate to the crime, think of it as a force multiplier of the crime?

Punching down is, in actuality, worse than punching up. I don’t mind laws that reflect that. It’s the least that we the privileged can do with our broad shoulders, right?




It might help if you did just a little bit of research to understand why there is even any such thing as a ‘hate crime’.

Apart from that, here’s one thought experiment that might make racists and bigots out there ‘get it’: Do you think that the murder of cops should bring special, harsher charges? Think about it hard, and be honest with yourself. Remember, they are also of a special group.


Simply put, intent matters in defining and prosecuting crimes but motive doesn’t. Both can figure in the degree of punishment, but creating a crime class based on hate and prosecuting it on that basis is wrong-headed IMO. Punishing on that basis can be legitimate; prosecuting on that basis is not.

I do have sympathy for the view that the intent of the crime is to terrorize or intimidate the larger group (I doubt that but I concede the possibility), but still I don’t see how that justifies a separate class of crime. It can be dealt with in punishment.


I used to be conflicted about “hate crime” legislation for the same reason until it was explained to me that it’s not about punishing someone differently for their thoughts, it’s punishing them differently because their crimes have more than one victim.

The murder of Emmett Till (to cite just one well-known hate crime) wasn’t really motivated by the perpetrators’ hatred of an individual teen nor did the brutal nature of his death only traumatize those who knew him. His killing wasn’t a one-off crime, it was part of a generations-long campaign of terror designed to send the message "this is what happens to n------s who don’t stay in their place."

So the murder was not only a crime against Emmett Till, it was an act of terrorism and intimidation.