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Hate crime focus of debate

Feb. 9, 2001

By BJ GOERGEN

Staff writer

Should hate crimes legislation be strengthened or eliminated? The Association of Black Students debated this point against the Young Conservatives of Texas before a crowd of more than 150 people in Bennett Auditorium Thursday.

'A hate crime is any criminal act that is motivated by hate,' said John Drake, a LaMarque junior and president of ABS. He argued that the answer to hate crimes is improved legislation requiring tougher penalties.

'Hate crimes are not attacks on individuals,' Drake said. 'They are crimes against humanity.'

The YCTs countered that any violent crime has a negative effect on humanity. Hate crimes 'can't punish fairly and consistently,' Matt Griffin, a Plano law student, said. He also said that hate crimes ultimately would lead to the obstruction of freedom of speech. Even though hate crime legislation is supposed to protect minorities, minorities will end up facing the toughest consequences, Griffin said.

'You can't say what's inside someone's mind when they commit a crime,' David Schwarz, a Houston freshman, said.

Hate crimes create fear in people of color because white men generally commit them, Sherie Carr, a Marshall sophomore, said.

'These crimes affect everyone in this room,' Carr said. 'Hate crimes in no way affect freedom of speech.' She also said that people are separated into different groups and need laws to help bring those groups together.