Argument: Hate crimes cannot be proven to harm communities

Issue Report: Hate crime laws


  • Michael S. Rozeff. “The Case Against Hate-Crime Laws”. LewRockwell. April 18th, 2006 – “Externality theory One theory behind hate crime legislation is that hatred harms others who are not direct victims of the criminal’s crime. There is an externality. If someone paints a swastika on a synagogue, if someone paints a corpse on an abortion clinic, or if someone shoots a Mexican immigrant, all synagogues, all abortion clinics, and all Mexican immigrants are said to be victimized. They are said to be intimidated. The crime is greater, and so the penalty should be greater. That’s the theory.
The state does not have to prove that the crime is greater in the sense of harming many others. It only has to prove that hatred is present. The law automatically assumes that many others have been harmed because it assumes there is an externality. There is no way to prove harm to others because there is no physical injury to them or their property. The extension of the crime to others is supposedly an implication of the fact that it was motivated by hatred.
The externality argument does not hold up. By this theory, an arsonist who sets fires is not presumed to scare other property owners that their property may be next to be burned. A robber who has held up 5 people in a neighborhood, motivated by the desire to get their cash, is not presumed to scare or intimidate anyone else in the neighborhood.”