Note: I sent this to my local state legislators.
On September 21, 2011, white supremacist terrorist Lawrence Russell Brewer was put to death by the state of Texas for his role in the horrific torture-slaying of James Byrd. Another of the men who helped murder Byrd is awaiting execution while the third murderer is serving a life sentence. Texas does not have a hate crime law, and did not need one to bring justice in this case. Indiana does not need one either.
I encourage you to reject a proposal to make some citizens “more equal” than others, which is unconstitutional under a plain reading of the text of the Fourteenth Amendment. And we need to be clear here: Hate crime laws create a legal system under which some victims of crime are more valuable than others. When we punish identical crimes differently based on the motivation of the criminal and the victim’s minority status instead of punishing the act and the intent, we are setting up a two-tiered legal system that places a preferred class of citizens over everyone else.
This is simply wrong. If we want to discourage hate crimes, we should harshly punish all violent criminals. Someone who commits murder should be executed by the civil magistrate regardless of what his motivation for committing the murder may have been. The victim is every bit as dead in a “normal” crime as he is in a bias crime. The property damage done by an arsonist is just as real and just as expensive to fix whether the arsonist is a white supremacist or if he just enjoys destroying other people’s things.
The renewed interest in hate crime laws in Bloomington and Monroe County has been spurred by the despicable, depraved, perverted and cowardly actions of an enthusiastic Bernie Sanders supporter by the name of Triceten Bickford. But would Bickford’s actions have been any less severe if his motivation has been anything other than virulent anti-Muslim hatred? He violently attacked a woman in front of her young child. He should spend a very long time behind bars to protect our community, and he also needs treatment for a severe alcohol problem as seen by his .195 blood alcohol content at the time of his arrest.
We do not need new laws. The laws we have on the books right now are more than sufficient. What we need to do is enforce those laws and harshly punish all violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law, after they have been convicted by a jury of their peers in a fair trial that follows all due process protections mandated by the Constitution.