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Hate Crime Laws are a Bad Idea

In this article, Charley Reese provides his opinion on the adoption of hate crime legislation. Reviewing the particularities of such laws, he identifies their possible consequences for society in general. The use of foreign countries with similar regulations already implemented demonstrates their pitfalls and substantiates his negative attitude towards it. Therefore, Reese views the adoption of such legislation as a definite step towards a totalitarian society.

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The author provides several valuable arguments supporting his disapproval of hate crime laws. First, Reese (2006) suggests that their adoption would constitute discrimination for the victims of other crimes (p. 137). Using motive as an aggravating factor would violate the principle of equal punishment for similar offenses. Second, Reese (2006) emphasizes the insignificant share of hate crimes in the total number of felonies committed in the United States (p. 137). Developing specific legislation for them would be an exaggeration of an issue, which does not deserve such attention. Therefore, such a move is more politically oriented, which leads to the third and most convincing argument. Reese (2006) notes that adopting such laws is a first step towards the introduction of censorship under the guise of prohibiting hate speech (p. 137). This directly contradicts the essence of the First Amendment aimed at protecting the freedom of ideas regardless of their possible offensive character for some groups. These arguments substantiate the author’s negative attitude towards the distinction of hate crimes.

As the discussion above shows, Reese indicates the unfavorable impacts of such legislation on the American law enforcement system and society in general. Besides, he uses the examples of other countries to show its inherent ties to an overall totalitarian community. Reese (2006) indicates that simply raising such topics as the Holocaust in Germany is a criminal offense (p. 138). Turning dissident views into a felony and providing the authorities with immunity from any criticism is a path taken by all dictatorships. Therefore, the distinction of hate crimes and the possible censorship it can lead to are entirely incompatible with the American ideals of liberty.


Reese, C. (2006). Hate crime laws are a bad idea. In W. Vesterman (Ed.), Reading and writing short arguments (pp. 137–148). McGraw-Hill.

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