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On the plus side, it looks like the Denver victim beat up his attacker pretty handily.

Posted by flamingbanjo | September 15, 2008 11:38 AM

And even if you, by some stroke of luck, have the CELL PHONE of one of the guys who beat the living piss out of you, in Washington, D.C., the police won't finish the investigation and make an arrest:

Posted by Rebecca | September 15, 2008 11:42 AM

Can someone explain to me the rational behind hate crime legislation? Throwing a brick at someone is already a crime, so why should the penalties be different if the motivation is “I hate gays” or “I want to steal his wallet”? Not trying to be a troll here, I just don’t understand the reasoning.

Posted by winna | September 15, 2008 11:58 AM

But let's keep in mind: Good Job Des Moines!

Posted by Look on the bright side. | September 15, 2008 11:58 AM
5 Denver it's okay to walk up to the complete stranger and punch them in the head? No matter what the motivation for the attack, the instigator should've been arrested. There's absolutely no excuse for refusing to prosecute unprovoked acts of violence. Way to demonstrate gross incompetence, Denver PD!

Posted by Hernandez | September 15, 2008 12:04 PM

@3, just in case you're not being disingenuous:
Hate crimes are intended to intimidate an entire class of people beyond the victim of the attack. Hate crimes make people afraid to live openly.

And of course there's also the fact that bigots are fucking scum and why would you want to defend them in the first place?

Posted by James Probis | September 15, 2008 12:07 PM

One more reason to HATE DENVER...Check out and sign the Spend NO Dollars In Denver petition.
They have THE most f-ed up legal system.

Posted by Julie Russell | September 15, 2008 12:19 PM

a boxer / attorney in skin-tight white pants and snakeskin shoes? he's kind of sounds like my hero.

Posted by thickturd | September 15, 2008 12:30 PM

There's nothing halfway about the Iowa way they treat you.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | September 15, 2008 12:40 PM

Uhh. I'm sorry, I read the Denver article, and what does the fact that the guy was gay have to do with any of this? A man walked up and randomly attacked him and the police did nothing?

Even if this was not a 'hate crime' (which it sounds like it was), it's still a fucking crime. Which requires, you know, action, on the part of the police.

But, yeah, the guy that was attacked sounds like a bit of a badass. He has some great quotes in that article...

Posted by Julie in Chicago | September 15, 2008 12:44 PM

@6 yes, I was being sincere, thanks for the answer. If I understand it, you’re saying a hate based motivation is a more grievous crime than a robbery based motivation and is therefore deserving of a greater punishment, just like stealing a car garners a greater punishment than stealing a pack of gum, right?

The thing I keep stumbling over is that all hate crimes are already crimes. If some guy hits me with a brick, I don’t much care what his motivation was, I want him punished for assaulting me. In theory people will curb their brick throwing urges because they don’t want to be punished. So, do hate crime laws actually deter anyone more than other laws?

@10 – like you said, the police should be pursuing this. What gives?

Posted by winna | September 15, 2008 1:11 PM

A hate crime is not just a crime against a single individual. The criminal intends to send a message to an entire community; that all [blacks, gays, muslims, whites, straights, christians] are unwelcome here and unsafe and are potential targets for violence.

Hate crimes laws take motive into account. They bring an added penalty based on motive and the impact the crime—the intended impact—has on a larger group. They don't make it extra illegal to beat up one type of person or another. They don't create an aura of protection for minorities.

When you burn a cross on the lawn of an African American family, it's not just a crime against that family. It's not just arson. It's a crime against all African American families in that community. Hate crimes statutes recognize that and punish the guilty accordingly.

Posted by Dan Savage | September 15, 2008 1:28 PM

@10 What the victim being gay has to do with it is the fact that nothing happened to the perpetrator: gays aren't people, therefore a crime against a gay is not a crime. If this had happened to someone who was clearly heterosexual, the perp would have been arrested. That's the point. If the cops won't acknowledge a crime has occurred, that tells everyone that a whole class of people is fair game.

I lived in Denver for 4 years. That was 3 years and 8 months too long. This was in the early 90's, when Amendment 2 was passed but before it was overturned by the Supreme Court. It blew my mind that people I had considered my friends who knew I was gay were explaining to my how they were going to vote to REMOVE my right not to be fired for being gay, or thrown out of my apartment for being gay, and they honestly saw nothing wrong with it, nor could they understand why I was upset. You truly can't understand the mentality of the place until you've lived there. Total crapper.

Posted by Spanky MacFarland | September 15, 2008 1:40 PM

@12 - OK, it's getting clearer now. Motive is important for the same reason motive affects murder charges, with premeditated being worse than accidental.

Thank you for answering my questions factually. Any time I try to discuss this with family/friends the conversation gets emtional/reactional and I've never understood the underlying principles.

Posted by winna | September 15, 2008 1:43 PM

@13 - I get all of that... I just meant, what does being gay have to do with it in the sense that the guy was still attacked. Whether the attacker was charged for a regular-old-crime or a hate-crime, a crime still occurred and should be punished. The police didn't even meet the minimal standards of dealing with the person as a regular-old-criminal...

Posted by Julie in Chicago | September 15, 2008 1:57 PM

I was JUST getting over my irrational hatred for everything Colorado. I'm now convinced, once again, that this place is filled with walking trash.

Posted by Nick | September 15, 2008 1:59 PM

Hate crimes are essentially punishment of thoughts. A savage hipocrisy indeed. If he had punched that guy because he wanted his wallet, it would still be a threat to gay people everywhere, assuming gays have wallets.

Posted by MBI | September 15, 2008 2:02 PM

The Blazing Saddle is a great name for a Gay bar. Yay Iowa, boo Denver.

Posted by inkweary | September 15, 2008 2:19 PM

dan's answer @12 was great. but if that's not enough for you, sometimes extra legislation is necessary when a current law is not being followed. hate crimes make it very specific that, for instance, beating a gay man will be punished. if people think -- as they apparently do -- that beating up a gay man is okay despite the current set of laws, then you need a new law to protect people.

Posted by infrequent | September 15, 2008 2:21 PM

@17: Hate crimes are essentially punishment of thoughts.

No, they aren't. When you commit an act of violence against someone because of their membership in a certain group, you are in essence committing two crimes: the actual act of violence against that individual, and the threat of future violence against the group.

Posted by Darcy | September 15, 2008 2:27 PM

Dumb it down. Hate crimes are terrorism.

Posted by Cat in Chicago | September 15, 2008 2:32 PM


You know the punishment for shooting someone is less severe if you knew the gun was loaded instead of thinking it was harmless, right? It's called intent. Or punishment for thoughts, as you call it. It's hard to think of any case where the guilty party's thoughts aren't likely to critical in determining whether and how much they will be punished.

So yes, thoughts matter when you break the law. Get over it already. It gets really old having some High Schooler go OMG! Thought crime! every single time anybody mentions hate crimes.

Posted by elenchos | September 15, 2008 2:32 PM

Julie @15 re-read my first sentence in @13. YOU see a crime, *I* see a crime, but the cop doesn't seen a crime, because it happened to a "faggot". So, no crime was committed in the cops eyes. If no 'crime' was committed, then certainly no 'hate crime' was committed. The entire 'hate crime' argument clouds the core issue. If you can't get the cops to accept that a crime has taken place, then it's just pointless to even talk about 'hate crime' status.

Posted by Spanky MacFarland | September 15, 2008 3:07 PM

"When you commit an act of violence against someone because of their membership in a certain group, you are in essence committing two crimes: the actual act of violence against that individual, and the threat of future violence against the group."

That's really what we're going with, huh? So hate crimes are punishable not only for the violence for the implied threat of violence against others.

I think that's stupid; like I said earlier, EVERY violent act is an implied threat against other people. More importantly (and please, put me in my place if I'm wrong about this) doesn't freedom of speech say you're allowed to make implied threats against other people assuming you're not rushing at them with a knife while you say it? The KKK and other hate groups hate hate-crime laws because they say it makes one man's life more important than another's. They're right. They should be angry that they would go to jail for more time if they killed a black guy than if a black guy killed them for similar reasons. For these laws to be perfectly fair, hate crimes against whitey or straight people should be MORE punishable, as logically, they threaten more people. Hate crime punishes people for two things: the actual act, and the message it sends. Remove the hate crime laws and you won't play into homophobes' persecution complexes.

Posted by MBI | September 15, 2008 3:51 PM

Probably about 80% the time when a guy punches another guy outside a bar he calls the guy faggot first (the other 20% of the time he calls him a bitch).

Why should it matter that the guy who was punched was in fact gay? Straight guys get called faggots and punched literally thousands of times a night. Are those hate crimes as well, or does it just depend on the actual sexuality of the victim?

Posted by Jim | September 15, 2008 4:27 PM


Yeah, and I'm sure you lose a lot of sleep over the added penalties for murdering a police officer over an ordinary person. As if their lives were worth more!

There are centuries of legal tradition that take into account who the victim is, what the accused was thinking, and what effect the crime had beyond the victim. This is not new. It is very, very old and well-established.

It's just that certain types of people such as yourself never took any notice until certain minorities (that you have a problem with) started getting legal recognition.

So what does that say about you?

Posted by elenchos | September 15, 2008 4:42 PM

@ 21: Ten out of ten for style. XD

Posted by vitupera | September 15, 2008 5:48 PM

"It's just that certain types of people such as yourself never took any notice until certain minorities (that you have a problem with) started getting legal recognition."

I *am* a racial minority. OH YES THAT'S RIGHT, I WENT THERE. I'm actually half minority, and I don't think it matters anymore that someone attacks my dad for racial reasons than it does my mom. And no, I don't think harsher penalties for killing a police officer is the same thing as harsher penalties for killing a racial minority. Killing an officer is a bigger crime because it makes everyone a little less safe, not because it sends an ugly message. As I said earlier, it punishes people for a message, not the violence, and messages are something you're supposed to be allowed to send freely.

Not that race particularly matters, because as you imply, I'm clearly a homophobe. I obviously don't support gay marriage, and I'm clearly voting for McCain too. Hey hey hey: Fuck you.

Posted by MBI | September 15, 2008 8:30 PM

Gee, you are sensitive about this.

Look, if this matters to you, go learn about it. Don't believe me; get educated. A crime is not just an act. It is an act plus the thoughts in the mind of the actor. That's how we punish people, based both on what they did and what they were thinking when they did it.

Breaking into a house where you think someone is trapped in a fire is different than breaking into a house you think has easily lifted valuables. There are a million examples like this. Intent. The thought behind the act.

And communities take offense at certain acts. Hate crime law is exactly like terrorism law. Hate crimes are identical to terrorism, in fact. Both function to do far more than the immediate damage of the crime itself.

A lot of people who want torture and death without trial for terrorism are aghast at hate crime protection for gays. A lot of the same people would demand extra punishment for a church arson than a warehouse arson. But nothing special for the gays. Why is that?

Posted by elenchos | September 15, 2008 9:26 PM

@16 Don't be a hater! Boulder is in Colorado too. My daughter and her friend went to the Pride event in downtown Boulder last weekend and had a great time.

Does Denver have a reputation for not prosecuting hate crimes against gay people? I guess I need to get out of my cocoon more often.

Posted by snoozn | September 16, 2008 9:55 AM

Why go all the way to Colorado? Try Olympia, Washington, where last week a small, frail, disabled (recovering from brain surgery) woman was beaten, kicked violently skin-head style, by a HUGE female yahoo who bellowed "FUCKING DYKE!" at her before and throughout the attack. The victim was unarmed and had tried to get away.

Olympia cops refuse to classify this as a "hate crime." Let's see. The she-yahoo pursued the victim in a car shouting anti-gay insults, tracked her to her home and attacked her addressing her as a "FUCKING DYKE." Olympia police HAVE THE LICENCE NUMBER and a FULL DESCRIPTION of the assailant and the attack.

And they don't consider it gay-bashing?

This would not be the first time Washington cops were in bed with skinheads and other violent right-wing bigots.

This stuff may be on the upswing as the Bigoted Right flexes its protected muscles.

What are we gonna do about it?

Posted by Seren | September 18, 2008 6:48 PM

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