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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

HATE CRIMES: SHOULD MOB ATTACKS BE TREATED AS HATE CRIMES OR SOMETHING MORE?

WHEN HATE CRIMES CROSS THE LINE INTO ATTEMPTED MURDER
9/9/14

Over the past several months, we have all witnessed viral videos on popular video hosing / sharing websites that appear to show large mobs of (generally) younger males, who, in the videos we have seen at least, appear to be of black ethnicity (African-American for the politically correct police who for whatever reason seem to feel that the term "black" is inappropriate or derogatory).  It's a shame that this op-ed piece even needs to be written, for two reasons;  first, that anyone even needs to clarify that the term "black" is NOT a derogatory term, and in fact, is a well-accepted term within that specific ethnic community, and secondly, that these "viral videos" are even reaching "viral" popularity.  Let's take a look at both items, the first of which will only be addressed briefly, so that we can get to the main point, which is the gross violation of personal safety in public.

First, we as Americans, need to get off the "Crazy Train" of being so overly politically correct that by doing so, we actually create more confusion and insults than by keeping things simple.  Specifically, I am referring to my beautifully dark-skinned Black brothers and sisters who I call my friends.  Americans, being so fearful of insulting anyone, has taken political-correctness to the alternative universe by assigning a "label" to those who have dark skin, or who are Black, by calling those folks "African-Americans."  Sorry to burst this PC Bubble, but if you assign a label of "African-American" to someone who happens to be Black, but isn't from Africa, or American, you are actually insulting them twice!  What if that person who in all of your "Political Correctness" is actually a descendant of Jamaica and happens to be a citizen of Germany?  Why should anyone assume that simply because a person has dark skin, or is black, that they automatically genealogically hail from Africa?  And why would we further assume that they are American?  As we know, America is full of folks from all over the globe;  we have plenty of visitors from UK, Germany, Russia, Israel, Italy, Africa, Haiti, Jamaica, Caribbean, etc., at any given time.  

Also, why assign the "-American" tagline afterwards anyway?  I certainly don't want anyone calling me a "German-Russian-Irish-American" when describing me.  It's ridiculous.  It's time consuming.  And it takes into account a whole lot of assumptions that the vast majority of people, including many in my own family, likely wouldn't even know about my own heritage.  How about this;  if you happen to be Black, guess what, you're Black.  There's absolutely NOTHING wrong with being Black.  I happen to be White.  Guess what... you can call me White.  Like I stated in my recent video, my friends that just happen to be Black, I call by their NAMES!  Imagine that.  There's no need for a "label" and certainly no need to get into their personal ancestry history when describing them to someone else who may need a "physical description" of someone I may need to describe.  If they are Black, I am calling them Black.  And in taking a poll of my friends who are, that is the way they want it!  I'm done playing the PC game when it comes to races of all types.  Black, White, Latino/a, Asian, etc., you are what you are.  Embrace it... love it... we are all different, and in 2014, race just doesn't matter.  What is in a person's heart is what matters.  Labels that try to be overly correct, do more damage than any possible good.  

To the second point of this piece, which is the mob-attacks we've all been witnessing on video sharing sites.  This is pure and simple some of the most disturbing trends I have personally witnessed in the country I love so dearly.  There is no place for this kind of trash.  Once again, we are witnessing talking-heads dodge around the actual issue of the crime taking place over the dog-and-pony show of whether or not these are "Hate Crimes."  Let me be clear;  What we are witnessing, are plain and simple mob attacks with the intent to seriously injure or kill another human being.  By placing "race" into the equation, we are taking away from the actual crime witnessed.  Just because we witness a large group of Black youths attacking what appears to be a White victim, does not necessarily make it a "Hate Crime."  It could very well be that that particular victim was in the wrong place at the wrong time when a misguided gang of violent youths decided it would be a good idea to play the "knock-out" game.

Let's not tip-toe around the heart of the matter here;  the gang attack on an innocent victim, regardless of race, is outright dangerous and lethal.  The effects of such attacks can easily leave a victim with multiple injuries, not the least of which is internal bleeding secondary to multiple blunt-force trauma, major organ damage, bleeding in the brain or severe brain injury and obviously, death.  In such an attack, the intent is not to scare the victim or tease / taunt them into submission;  the point of an attack is to cause severe bodily harm to the point of unconsciousness.  That equates to "leaving a person for dead."

By partaking in such a heinous crime, the perpetrators know all too well what they are doing and why.  It's premeditated.  It is not in reaction to some emotional event.  It is not done as a harmless prank.  It is done with intent to severely injure or kill another person.  By attaching the label of "hate crime" onto the event, only blurs the lines of what it is, and what it is not.

In my opinion, this is a crime known as "Attempted Murder."  This is not opinion, but rather, is a fact based upon generally accepted State and Federal Statutes or Criminal Justice Codes.  Let's take a look at what is required for "Attempted Murder" to be a viable charge:

Elements of Attempted Murder
Attempted murder is a very serious criminal charge. To be convicted of attempted murder, prosecutors must be able to prove:
  • Deliberate or reckless behavior with extreme disregard for human life
  • An intention to actually kill someone
  • Substantial evidence that considerable steps were made to commit murder 
Following these general guidelines, pointing a gun at someone wouldn’t constitute attempted murder but firing the gun, even if you don’t hit them, would probably be attempted murder. Attempted murder can also be charged for trying to hit someone with your car or profoundly wounding someone and leaving them for dead so long as your intent was murder.  The same could easily hold true for a mob of persons joining in on a mass attack of one victim, or even two victims (if the mob was large enough) where the end result would be the repeated beating, stomping, and throwing of heavy objects onto the victim to the point where the person is unconscious and unable to defend themselves.

Degrees of Attempted Murder

Like murder, attempted murder can be separated in seriousness and penalties based upon certain factors. These factors are:
  • First Degree: the defendant planned to kill the victim or was lying in wait for the victim. Attempted murder on a police officer will also be first degree, regardless of planning.
  • Second Degree: the defendant didn’t plan on killing the victim. This typically includes attempted killings during a “heat of passion” or attempted killings while acting in a way which is seriously careless or negligent.
Now while I agree that "Hate Crimes" and their related sentencing has its place (often adding a few years onto a felony assault conviction) that is generally little deterrent for those that commit mob-type beatings of a defenseless person.  Certainly, penalties for Hate Crimes should be added on top of any charges filed, but I think its time our Prosecutors across the country took a harder look at these crimes, and try them for what they are;  Attempted Murder.  Attempted Murder (assuming the victim lives through the ordeal) carries generally a minimum of 10 years, with many states carrying a sentence of up to life in prison.  Anyone looking at these video recorded crimes should easily be able to see the difference between aggravated assault, and attempted murder.  That isn't to say the assault charges shouldn't be discarded;  in my opinion, every charge that can be levied against the accused should be.  But let's not let the blanket of "Hate Crimes" be the one at which Prosecutors stop at for a variety of reasons.

These victims didn't ask to be brutally beaten.  Let's not let them down by not pursuing the most severe charge possible under the guise of political correctness or pushback from bullhorn talking-heads that attempt to make these crimes be less than they actually are.

Addendum:  There have been many comments regarding my own opinion of the term "African Americans"... some of which have been positive and agree with what I have said, others that are of a dissenting opinion.  Here is the crux of what I meant, and why I said it:

"Do I consider myself an "expert" on the issues of black Americans?  Absolutely not.  That was never the intent of what I wrote, nor in my comments here.  The intent of my comments is simple:  Labels, of any kind, build barriers and enable division.  Listen, I wish that many things in American history were different... slavery being one of the major blotches in our history.  However, as I stated in an earlier comment, what I wrote was never meant to "erase" that part of history or re-write it... rather... people should embrace their heritage and ethnic backgrounds.  That being said, we are ALL AMERICANS... and race should NOT be a factor.  Call me an optimist... call me naive... call me ignorant.  I believe that in 2014, we should be moving past race and divisions based on ethnicity or heritage.  America has enough problems without this extra hurdle to climb over.  Being from the New York City area, we embrace all backgrounds.  I didn't grow up in an area where race or ethnicity was an issue.  In fact, its one of the reasons I would never live anywhere else.  It is the "melting pot" of America (yes, there are other areas that are just as diverse) and I couldn't imagine living in an area that is homogenous.  My friends, colleagues and family are all blended... my own family has inter-racial marriages.  My friends are for the most part blended families.  And we are all AMERICANS... black, white, Asian, Middle Eastern, European... it just isn't a factor.  I actually feel bad for those that have not had the opportunity to enjoy other cultures and the blessings that coexistence brings.  So am I glad that Raven spoke up and talked about breaking down the barriers of labels and race?  You bet I am.  As we approach 2020, the majority of Americans will be from blended backgrounds.  We all need to embrace that fact, because it is a fact.  I make ZERO apologies for failing to acknowledge racial barriers because in my opinion, they do nothing to foster the human experience.  Those that wish to continue to isolate themselves and wish to continue to live under a banner of a "label" that bears little resemblance to their actual lives, are doing so with the precognition that somehow that promotes their culture, when in reality, it only helps to build barriers.  I am sorry for those who just don't understand where I am coming from by my comments... but my comments are done so in the spirit of peace and love... not hate.  We are all people... we are all Americans... and we all just need to get along.  Hate, race, segregation, labels etc. have no place in America in 2014.  We need to rid ourselves of such negative energy and move forward towards inner peace, cohesiveness as a Nation and to promote fairness and justice among ALL Americans across the board.  Not just one race... not just one heritage, but ALL backgrounds.  Hope this makes sense... peace.. -SA"