[Marxism] Transgender statement opposing New York hate crimes legislation

David Thorstad binesi at gvtel.com
Mon Apr 20 08:36:24 MDT 2009

Here is a cogent argument against New York's "hate crimes" legislation by the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. Most liberals, and many leftists, uncritically support "hate crimes" laws, which punish what is in people's heads rather than their actions, based on the identity of their victim. This transgender statement offers a welcome contrary view.


  It pains us that we nevertheless cannot support the current GENDA bill,
because we cannot and will not support hate crimes legislation. Rather than
serving as protection for oppressed people, the hate crimes portion of this
law may expose our communities to more danger—from prejudiced institutions
far more powerful and pervasive than individual bigots. In New York, the
hate crimes portion of the penal code adds automatic penalty enhancements to
certain crimes that are deemed to be hate crimes: crimes based on a person’s
race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, religious practice, age,
disability, or sexual orientation.

  If a particular crime is deemed a hate crime by the state, the supposed
perpetrator is automatically subject to a higher mandatory minimum sentence.
For example, a crime that would carry a sentence of five years can be
“enhanced” to eight years. As GENDA is currently written, if passed it would
further expand this law, providing additional grounds for penalty
  As a nation, we lock up more people per capita than any other country in
the world; one in one hundred adults are behind bars in the U.S. Our
penalties are harsher and sentences longer than they are anywhere else on
the planet, and hate crime laws with sentencing enhancements make them
harsher and longer. By supporting longer periods of incarceration and
putting a more threatening weapon in the state’s hands, this kind of
legislation places an enormous amount of faith in our deeply flawed,
transphobic, and racist criminal legal system. The application of this
increased power and extended punishment is entirely at to the discretion of
a system riddled with prejudice, institutional bias, economic motives, and
corruption. [. . .] 

Because of the way this legislation has been turned against the communities
they were intended to protect, we regard “sentence  enhancement” hate crime
laws as one of the greatest follies of late-20th-century liberal politics.

The full text is here: http://www.srlp.org/node/301


April 6, 2009

Sylvia Rivera Law Project
Queers for Economic Justice
Peter Cicchino Youth Project
Audre Lorde Project

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