Three women identified by their lawyers as lesbians were arraigned yesterday on a hate crime charge for allegedly beating a gay man at the Forest Hills T station in an unusual case that experts say exposes the law’s flawed logic.
“My guess is that no sane jury would convict them under those circumstances, but what this really demonstrates is the idiocy of the hate-crime legislation,” said civil liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate. “If you beat someone up, you’re guilty of assault and battery of a human being. Period. The idea of trying to break down human beings into categories is doomed to failure.”
Prosecutors and the ACLU of Massachusetts said no matter the defendants’ sexual orientation, they can still face the crime of assault and battery with intent to intimidate, which carries up to a 10-year prison sentence, by using hateful language.
“Someone who is Jewish can be anti-Semitic,” said ACLU staff attorney Sarah Wunsch. “The mere fact that someone is a member of the same class doesn’t mean they could not be motivated by hatred for their very own group.”
But Carolyn Euell, 38, mother of two of the defendants, Erika Stroud, 21, of Dorchester and Felicia Stroud, 18, West Roxbury, told reporters the alleged attack “can’t be hateful” because both her daughters are lesbians.
Prosecutor Lindsey Weinstein said the two sisters and one of their domestic partners, Lydia Sanford, also a defendant, viciously beat the man Sunday, repeatedly punching and kicking him after he bumped them with his backpack on a stairwell.
She said the victim, who suffered a broken nose, told cops he believed the attack was “motivated as a crime because of his sexual orientation” since the three women “called him insulting homophobic slurs.”
But attorney Helene Tomlinson, who represented Sanford, told the judge her client is “openly identified as a lesbian … so any homophobic (conduct) is unwarranted.” She said the alleged victim was the aggressor and used racial slurs: “He provoked them.”
Take it away, Don Surber:
What are the odds of getting a sane jury in Massachusetts? This is a state that regularly crooks and acts surprised when they go to jail. Is it the last three or four of the Speakers of the House in Massachusetts that have gone to prison? I lost count.
I seldom use the word Orwellian, but if I did I would apply the word to this statement from ACLU staff attorney Sarah Wunsch: “Someone who is Jewish can be anti-Semitic. The mere fact that someone is a member of the same class doesn’t mean they could not be motivated by hatred for their very own group.”
Pardon me but lesbians are not quite in the same group as gay men. In our insane insistence in labeling everyone as a member of some oppressed demographic group, we have drawn a distinction between lesbians and gays, segregating homosexuals by gender.
This case is proof that conservatives were right when they opposed this hate crimes nonsense. All violent crimes are hate. An additional 10 years in prison for saying a magic word while you are beating the crap out of someone is chilling. Like it or lump it, the Constitution protects bullies from reprisal for calling someone the N-word or other slur. Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me. Let’s go after the sticks and stones and leave the name-calling alone.
Not only that, but why should the exact same crime be punished differently depending on the race/sex/orientation of the victim and the perp?? I got into a debate with a liberal on this years ago and he actually told me, in a hypothetical sense, that a gang of white guys who raped a black woman should get longer punishment than a gang of white guys who raped a white woman because the black woman was more “targeted” than a white woman would be. I would think that the more random the crime the scarier? I mean, if you’re in a so-called “targeted group”, generall speaking it’s likely you’re going to be more on guard for the possibility of attack versus someone who isn’t part of a so-called “minority group” – - – right?