Hate Crimes vs. Hate Speech


West 114 was filled with students and faculty listening to an informative speech about the ways and works of our government. On Nov. 10, Martin Margulies, a leading authority on Constitutional law in the state of Connecticut, spoke about the difference between hate crimes and hate speech by law standards.

Political Science Professor Steve Berizzi invited Margulies, who was his former teacher in law school, to explain the Constitutional law of hate crimes.

Margulies said there is a line that has to be drawn between some government cases for hate crimes and hate speech.

Margulies explained that the Constitution imposes limitations in the power of the government because hate crimes are essentially a Constitutional law but hate speech is not.

According to dictonary.com, hate crimes are the violation of a victim’s civil rights that can be motivated by hostility to the victim’s race, religion, creed, national origin, sexual orientation or even gender.

Hate crimes are described as physically assaulting a person, damaging their property, bullying and harassment because they are not of a certain group. In other words, hate motivated assault on another human being, is a hate crime.

The Constitution of the United States protects the people’s rights of freedom of assembly, the press,  petition, religion and speech which is what a victim of a hate crime falls under.

Margulies explained the difference in both hate speech as in hate crimes.  Hate speech is a verbal attack on a person or group of persons on the basis of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

Though hate speech consist of all the same things as a hate crime, it does not consist of violation and the motivation to hurt another, it is just words.

However, if someone grabs your arm and twists it to hurt you, that is an assault on a person and the  government then can step in because it is invading the victims right to be who they are, said Margulies as one of his many examples.

Margulies’ speech cleared up a lot of misinterpretation between hate crimes and hate speeches.

The government does not protect conduct which is what most hate speeches resort to, but it is free to prosecute for hate crimes.

Margulies went on about the government in his precise point of view, describing how speech can be conduct and vice versa, but the government cannot make a move because it is still considered as hate speech, not crime.

Like all things, the government can choose what to consider is hate crime and hate speech depending on the case at hand.  This means they are likely to twist it so that it may benefit them in one way or another, and that the government cannot  always be trusted to draw the lines between the two for civilians.

There are choices that people can make when it comes to the heart of our lives and the rulings of the government.

“Democracy thrives on debates,” said Margulies.

The government doesn’t like debates if it can’t take what want out of the situation and hate crimes or hate speech creates such lines.

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