Has the president vetoed it yet? I'm not really up to speed on these things. Still, I've been thinking about why hate crimes deserve a harsher punishment. It's the sort of thing the president ought to understand, actually.
It's not because people deserve harsher penalties for "committing a crime and being homophobic at the same time." As one brought up in New Zealand's liberal-academic-middle-class, of course I understand the animosity people feel towards those who would deny civil liberties to others on trivial grounds such as race or sexual orientation. Still, the hatred that this can arouse in my own breast is just another indication of how easy it is for a child to hate those who break the moral ideals of her parents, and as such, should be resisted in favour of more logical thinking.
Look at it this way. Who deserves a harsher penalty? Someone who blows up a building, or someone who blows up a building under circumstances designed to strike fear into the hearts of those associated with something the building stands for?
I thought so.
Yes, that's right, folks, hate crimes are terrorism. A person who kills a man for being gay doesn't just commit a crime against that man and his family. A crime is also being committed against all gay people who live in that society, by informing them that they should be scared to be gay. A hate crime is simultaneously a crime and a threat -- just like terrorism.
So, should those who commit crimes of terror/hate face extra penalities? Should those who incite crimes of terror/hate also be punished? Of course they should.