Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Amending hate crime legislation to include 'sex'": Its A Terrible Idea

The Liberal Women's caucus wants to "Amend existing hate crime legislation to include “sex”, the legal description for gender."

The whole point of hate crime legislation is not to further punish any crime that is motivated by hate. That would be a long list indeed. No the point of such legislation is instrumental and not punitive. The purpose is to target organizations (e.g., the KKK) and segments of the population (e.g., young males who routinely beat up gay males for sport) who target identifiable groups (e.g, racial minorities) for no other reason than what members of these groups look like or what sex they sleep with. As women in Canada are not targeted by various fringe groups or targeted and beaten up by gangs of bored youth, there is no reason to include women in such at list.

It is only the instrumental function of such legislation that half way justifies such a policy. If it serves no instrumental purpose, handing out different sentences depending on who is victimized is a perversion of justice.

This is not to say that there might not be cause in the future. Take what has happened in France with regard to the hijab. Many French officials argued for a ban on religious symbols in schools because of the threat of violence many young French muslim women and girls felt if they did not don a hijab. If such a menace was to arise here in Canada, using hate crime legislation to target those, who use violence to enforce such a dress code, may be in order.

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