Showing posts from February, 2021

Unintended Consequences of a Hate Crimes Law

  A hate crimes law enhances the penalty when a crime is committed for the purposes of hurting people of a class, not just a particular individual. The intent is to deter people from committing crimes because of prejudices against designated classes. For example, if I should cause harm to a person because I am angry at that person, then it would not be a hate crime, even if I hated him. But if I were to cause harm to someone because I hated his skin color, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or whatever other designated classes might be named in the law, then it would be a hate crime because the harm is directed towards every person of that class, and thus hurts many, not just one. The idea of increased penalties for crimes against people of color, for instance, sounds good. Previously I supported it, along with an organization where I worked. I believe the proponents of such a law mean well. It is viewed as one more tool to stop racism. But does it really? I now think t

Next Steps

The Riverton Peace Mission uses community organizing to move towards harmony to stand together in respectful relationship. The first steps in organizing are connecting and listening followed by naming priorities. Over the last year or so, we have been doing that. It does not mean that those steps are over, as we cast our net wider and wider, reflect, and tweak; but that we are at a place where we better inform ourselves through research, collecting data and deeper listening prior to action. If we act too swiftly, we risk false assumptions that create more problems than are solved. This past week I witnessed discussion of a book entitled  Indian No More  by Charlene Willing and Traci Sorell that tells a story of a Native American girl moving with her family from a reservation to a city under the Indian Relocation Act of 1956 for her father to get a job. One discussion participant shared her concern that the family had not been given more support in assimilating. My concern went back to