Nicole Franklin is accused of running over a Mexican girl who was walking on the sidewalk. Franklin is now being charged with attempted murder. Franklin admitted to doing so because she thought the victim was of Mexican nationality. A number of groups want to charge Franklin with a Hate Crime in addition to attempted murder but Polk County Attorney John Sarcone is resisting such efforts. Good for him I say.
I wrote about my objection to hate crimes not long ago but this gives me an opportunity to reexamine the situation. What Sarcone says is very instructive in this regard. A hate crime charge enhances other charges, such as arson and assault, but doesn’t apply to attempted murder. The gist is the idea we should punish people extra for crimes based on the criminal’s motivation.
Sarcone argues that attempted murder is a heinous crime and the charge stands alone. That enhancing that charge is useless. I agree with Sarcone in regards to attempted murder but I disagree in regards to arson or assault. Both of those crimes also should stand alone. Running over a Mexican girl is plenty of reason to put someone in jail. We don’t need to know what was Franklin’s motivation in order to charge her appropriately. Is running over a Mexican girl more of a crime because Franklin hated Mexicans? I hardly think so. What if Franklin ran her over because she was wearing a dress purchased at Walmart and Franklin was once fired from a Walmart?
This illustrates the problem with the very idea of a hate crime. It gives our government, and their law enforcement arm, a way to punish particular members of our society differently depending on their mindset. Everyone who intentionally drives their vehicle onto a sidewalk and attempts to run over a Mexican girl, or anyone else for that matter, is equally guilty. The police must not be allowed to take our thoughts into account, even if we admit to them.
Is Franklin a vile human being? Certainly. Did she allow political rhetoric to destroy her own life and almost murder an innocent? Yes, and yes again. Are there others out there like Franklin? Absolutely. The question is if we serve society by giving Franklin a bigger penalty because of her hatred of Mexicans. There I must answer a resounding no. We actually harm society.
If authorities can charge Franklin with a more serious crime because she hates a group of people, we are giving the government a power they should not, must not have.
Let’s imagine the government decides it has a vested interest in putting Anarchists in jail. They can now charge someone with a more serious crime, say jaywalking while an Anarchist, than they can any other jaywalker. Anarchist hate laws, Anarchist commit crimes more heinously than others. This allows the government to favor one group over another simply because of their mindset or the organization to which they belong.
This is a road, pardon the pun, that leads to very bad places and I understand such, I hope you do as well. Charge Franklin with attempted murder for running over a Mexican girl, that is what she did, and that is what she should be charged with doing. Nothing more or less.