Monday, April 1, 2019
Taylor Hennington Junior Staff Reporter (2018 – 2019)
There is not one face of America. Its faces are white, black, gay, straight, Christian, Muslim, and so forth. Whatever racial, cultural, or religious groups exist in the world, they also exist here in America. In fact, America markets itself as a “melting pot,” accepting of people’s differences.¹ But is this becoming America’s greatest myth?
In recent years, America has battled the rise of hate-based crimes.² To combat these crimes, Congress passed the Hate Crimes Act (“HCA”) in 2009.3 The HCA defines a hate crime as one based on the victim’s actual or perceived race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.⁴ The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (“FBI”) latest statistics show that more than half of the 6,063 single-bias hate crime incidents reported in 2016 were based on race or religion.⁵
Courts, in turn, handed out harsh punishments to hate crime offenders. For example, in King v. State, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals upheld life sentences where three white men beat a black man, chained him to the back of a truck, dragged him down a street for miles, and cut his body into pieces.⁶ In State v. McKinney, the Wyoming Supreme Court also upheld life sentences where men with anti-gay sentiments beat an openly gay man to death with a pistol and tied him to a fence.⁷ And in United States v. Randolph Linn, a United States District Court sentenced an Indiana truck driver, and former Marine, to 20 years in prison and ordered him to pay a $1.4 million dollar fine for setting fire to a Toledo mosque.⁸
Even after passing laws to severely punish hate crimes, these types of cases are becoming common occurrences on American court dockets. While the FBI has yet to publish its 2017 hate crime statistics, data suggests that hate crimes are still on the rise.⁹ There may never be a clear explanation as to why there is a spark in hate-motivated violence, but the question still remains: what does America do next?
Sources ¹ Gerard V. Mantese, Verkhovsky, Diversity in the Law Theme Introduction, 96 Mich. B.J. 21, 21 (2017) (“The United States of America is known as a melting pot of peoples. And that pot sometimes boils over with emotions, distrust, and frustrations. But more often, our diversity strengthens and energizes us.”). ² See Federal Bureau of Investigations, Hate Crime Statistics, http://www.fbi.gov/investigate/civil-rights/hate-crimes. ³ 18 U.S.C. § 249 (2009). ⁴ Id. at § 249(2). ⁵ Federal Bureau of Investigations, 2016 Hate Crime Statistics, https://ucr.fbi.gov/hate-crime/2016/topic-pages/incidentsandoffenses. ⁶ King v. State, 29 S.W.3d 556 (Tex. Crim. App. 2000) ⁷ Angela D. Moore, Method of Attack: A Supplemental Model for Hate Crime Analysis, 90 Ind. LJ. 1707, 1719 (2015). ⁸ David Yonke, Mosque arsonist Randolph Linn sentenced to 20 years, Washington Post (April 17, 2013), https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/mosque-arsonist-randolph-linn-sentenced-to-20-years/2013/04/17/e66b70f2-a796-11e2-9e1c-bb0fb0c2edd9_story.html?utm_term=.9a54383bf49d. ⁹ Brian Levin James, Nolan, Reitzel, New data shows U.S. hate crimes continue to rise in 2017, CBS News (June 26, 2018), https://www.cbsnews.com/news/new-data-shows-us-hate-crimes-continued-to-rise-in-2017/.