Monday, March 26, 2007

Carnival Time

Some blog carnivals are pointing their readers here, with links to my piece last week on the book events for Brian Doherty and Neal Boortz. (Note that I was finally able to add photos from both.)

Good Sense (with the Burkean motto, "Good order is the foundation for all things") hosts the Virginia Blog Carnival this week.

And The Richmond Democrat has some nice things to say in its new edition of the Virginia Blog Roundup:

If you are interested in learning more about Libertarianism, its history and its current status in academia, then pay a visit to Rick Sincere.
Principled Discovery is hosting the second edition of the "Carnival of Principled Government," which, amidst many references to Thomas Jefferson, finally gets around to my post on Boortz and Doherty. (I humbly accept the juxtaposition.)

While it's not a blog carnival, this seems as good a place as any to mention that I was recently quoted in a story about hate crimes in the New York-based publication, Gay City News.

In "A Hate Crime without Hate," reporter Duncan Osborne describes an odd case in Brooklyn:
At a February 7 bail hearing for Anthony Fortunato, one of four defendants charged in the killing of Michael J. Sandy, Gerald J. DiChiara, Fortunato's lawyer, challenged the use of the state hate crime statute in the case. "There was no hate," DiChiara said.

Charles J. Hynes, the Brooklyn district attorney, would agree.

"This section of the hate crimes law says that if you pick someone because they are a member of that class you can establish the hate crime," Hynes said last October. "You don't have to hate blacks or hate gays to be guilty under this statute. All you have to do is identify them as a class and victimize them because they come from that class."

While little of the evidence in the case is public, published reports have said that the defendants chose Sandy because he was gay and, they believed, less likely to fight back when they tried to rob him. Typically, hate crime prosecutions rely on evidence of prejudice as the motivation for the crime.

The law's use in this case is new, Hynes said.

"I think it's novel in the sense that there is no case law," he said. "We'll probably make new law... I'm comfortable with it."

Allegedly, one defendant posed as a gay man during an October 8, 2006, Internet chat and lured Sandy, a gay African American, to a rest stop in Brooklyn. The men allegedly tried to rob Sandy who was struck by a car when he fled onto the Belt Parkway. Sandy, 29, died on October 13.

Fortunato, 20, John Fox, 19, and Ilya Shurov, 20, are charged with second-degree murder, attempted robbery in the first degree, manslaughter, and assault, all as hate crimes.
As I understood the situation, the victim was not targeted so much for being gay as for being available -- a crime of opportunity.

What I concluded, from what little I knew about the case, is this: The perps didn't choose their victim because he was gay and they hate gay people. They chose him because they were able to use the medium of a gay chatroom to lure him to a place where they could commit a crime against him. Their motive was robbery; their means was the ruse that they wanted to meet the victim for a sexual liaison.

Still, I thought, it's very muddled.

If they had lured a heterosexual man through a dating site like Match.com by pretending to be a woman who wanted to meet him for sex, the "hate crime" element would not be a factor in the prosecution. But I can see such a scenario taking place.

This is how Osborne brought me in to the discussion, among others he identified as "experts":
In interviews, lawyers and activists cited crimes that could be prosecuted in this way, such as a mugger selecting Asian victims believing them to be passive and less likely to call police or a gay thief preying on other gay men because he knows that population well.

Are these hate crimes?

"I'm not so sure that the line dividing them is very wide," said Clarence Patton, executive director of the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project. "I don't know that it's very far or distant from someone who says I hate gay people to someone who says let's do this to a gay person because it will be fun or easier. I don't think there is that much daylight between one and the other."

Richard E. Sincere, president of Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty, a libertarian group, and an opponent of hate crime laws, said Hynes was wrong.

"This seems to be rather an odd use," he said. "Using the stereotype of a gay man as less likely to fight back seems to be a means to the crime and not so much a motivation... I don't think it falls within any scope of a hate crimes statute."

Abt Associates' Shively, a supporter of hate crime laws, wondered if using a statute in this way would harm such laws.

"This would worry me about weakening the core intent," he said. "The majority of crime is intra-race. All the racial groups tend to be victimized by people of their own racial groups... Is the fact that there is a tendency to pick these victims according to these characteristics - does that make them a hate crime? I think the answer is no."

I suspect this case will be fodder for law review articles for years to come.

1 comment:

Dana said...

Gee...the politics of putting together a carnival. I'll try to remember that for next time and put you higher up, especially since you were kind enough to link.

Or maybe I'll bury you somewhere just for spite.

Assuming you enter, of course.

And this is just me, but I never understood the hate crimes stuff, anyway. If you commit a crime, especially if it is of a violent nature, you should be prosecuted the fullest extent of the law. And the more forethought you put into it, the more that punishment should extend, I think.