Hate Crime Laws: Dangerous and Divisive

20 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2015

See all articles by David B. Kopel

David B. Kopel

Independence Institute; Denver University - Sturm College of Law; Cato Institute

Date Written: January 15, 2003

Abstract

The great promise of American law is Equal Protection: everyone is equal before the law. Colorado’s Ethnic Intimidation statute runs contrary to this promise, by creating preferred classes of victims. Proposed “hate crimes” laws would make the problem even worse. Different groups should not be contending for special status in our criminal law. Identity politics strikes at the heart of the American motto of e pluribus unum, and encourages people to think of themselves as members of particular groups -- rather than as, most of all, Americans first. Laws based on identity politics lead to skewed prioritization of law enforcement resources, and impinge on values of free speech, which includes the freedom to hold and express the most odious ideas. Until Colorado’s statute is repealed, it should be improved by stronger penalties for the creation of hoaxes.

Keywords: hates crimes, ethnic intimidation, First Amendment, Equal Protection, hoaxes

JEL Classification: K14, K42

Suggested Citation

Kopel, David B., Hate Crime Laws: Dangerous and Divisive (January 15, 2003). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2588074 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2588074

David B. Kopel (Contact Author)

Independence Institute ( email )

727 East 16th Ave
Denver, CO 80203
United States
303-279-6536 (Phone)
303-279-4176 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.davekopel.org

Denver University - Sturm College of Law

2255 E. Evans Avenue
Denver, CO 80208
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.davekopel.org

Cato Institute ( email )

1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001-5403
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.cato.org/people/david-kopel

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