Hate Crimes Legislation is Not the Answer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, December 17, 2019

On Tuesday Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson released a statement renewing calls for Arkansas to pass hate crimes legislation.

In response, Family Council President Jerry Cox released a statement, saying, “Hate crimes laws don’t work. New Jersey has a hate crimes law like the one the governor is proposing, but it didn’t stop anti-Semitic violence from happening in that state last week. The FBI tracks hate crimes committed nationwide. According to the FBI, the five states with the highest number of hate crimes in 2018 were Washington, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Michigan. Every one of these states has a hate crimes law. Arkansas, on the other hand, has some of the fewest hate crimes of any state in America. Passing a hate crimes law isn’t going to do anything here.”

Cox said besides being ineffective, hate crimes laws give government the power to punish speech and beliefs. “Hate crimes laws give the government the power to punish thoughts as well as actions. When police investigate a possible hate crime, questions come up about what the suspect wrote or said. People ask questions about his religious beliefs or his friends and associates. These investigations stray into thought-policing and end up punishing criminals for what they believe in addition to what they did. Free countries don’t criminalize beliefs or thoughts.”

Cox said hate crimes laws promote unequal justice. “Hate crimes laws treat crimes and their victims unequally. Targeting anyone and committing a crime is wrong and currently illegal. When hate crimes laws levy harsher penalties for targeting some people but not others, the punishments can differ even if the crimes are the same. The penalty for murder or armed robbery should be the same no matter the victim’s race, religion, or sexual-orientation.”

Cox said Family Council will oppose any effort to pass hate crimes legislation in Arkansas. “We have opposed hate crimes laws every time they have been proposed at the Arkansas Legislature since the 1990s. This legislation was a bad idea 25 years ago, and it’s still a bad idea today.”

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