Monday, May 11, 2009

Hate Crime laws Hate the 1st Amendment

"Hate crime" laws are preposterous encroachments on free speech and an insult to the whole concept of blind justice and equal treatment. And the hits just keep on coming. 

Now Maryland becomes the first State to say the homeless are a special class of people who must be protected from.....home owners?

Maryland became the first state Thursday to cover homeless people in its hate crimes law.

Under the law, signed by Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley, an attack can result in a harsher penalty if evidence shows the attacker acted because the victim was homeless. The Maryland law also covers race, religious belief, national origin, disability, gender and sexual orientation.

"This is a very symbolic and practical step in addressing violence against homeless people," says Michael Stoops of the National Coalition for the Homeless. Similar bills are being considered in Washington, D.C., and California.

A few states have passed related measures. In 2006, Maine allowed judges to impose harsher sentences for crimes against the homeless. Last year, Alaska added them to its vulnerable-victims law, which allows for increased penalties.

The FBI tracks hate crimes, but because the homeless are not a protected class, it has no figures for attacks on them.