Hate crimes legislation is once again before the Utah State Legislature. It is high time to approve it.
House Bill 85 would give law enforcement and prosecutors the tools they need to combat an insidious and constant problem. Each year, scores of crimes are committed in Utah because of an offender’s bias against race, religion, national origin or sexual orientation. Such attacks are not merely against an individual, but are directed toward an entire group of people.
Now, more than ever, all Americans should know how that feels. Remember September 11 and the collective feelings of vulnerability many experienced. The nation and her people were attacked by individuals filled with incomprehensible hatred for America and all it stands for.
The proposed legislation doesn’t make hatred, per se, a crime. In this nation people are free to openly express their views, even hatred of others. But the right to harbor those sorry attitudes stops when feelings turn to criminal actions.
Those convicted of committing such crimes ought to receive stiffer sentences. That’s what the proposed legislation would bring about. KSL believes it is entirely appropriate to punish more severely those criminals who perpetrate their hateful deeds primarily because of bias or prejudice toward others.