Taking the ‘hate’ out of crime
Last weekend, a gay guest of a Syracuse University student was beat up by someone believed to be an SU student himself. The attack brought almost 200 concerned individuals to Hendricks Chapel last week, but other than that, the campus has remained fairly quiet.
The main reason for the lack of uproar could be due to SU’s growing reputation for apathetic students. But the far more likely reason is that the facts of the case have yet to truly materialize.
We know that two groups crossed paths late at night on Comstock Avenue. One person, as reported by The Daily Orange, called another a ‘fag.’ That person was restrained and started beating up a member of the other group. The person who was assaulted suffered minor head injuries, and did not require hospital attention. The suspect is still at large.
The anatomy of a hate crime? Maybe, but not necessarily.
Public Safety Captain Drew Buske said the punishment for the attacker, if he is an SU student, could be expulsion from school. The criminal action, if pursued by the victim, could be jail time.
If Syracuse University did not consider this a hate crime, the punishment, according to the SU Student Handbook, would range from probation to suspension.
The discrepancy in punishments leads to one of the major divides in politics. Should the government, or in this case SU, have the right to say that the reason a crime was committed could override the crime itself?
Put more plainly – what if, hypothetically, two groups are walking on Comstock Avenue and one student sees another who has been sleeping with his girlfriend. That student yells ‘cheater’ and proceeds to inflict minor head injuries on that person.
That crime is no better than the possible ‘hate crime’ that happened last weekend. The punishment shouldn’t be lighter either.
When authority takes steps to figure out the ‘why’ in crimes, law becomes a slippery slope.
Instead of focusing on getting this possible ignorant individual out of SU, remedying his bigotry should outweigh more extreme punishments. The focus should not be on expelling or jailing a person who threw a few drunken punches and might or might not hate gay people. The focus should be on exposing his views, changing this intolerance and, instead, expelling the hate he harbors.
We’re months away from the conclusion to this story and hopefully the entire campus will learn something from this. Hopefully the attacker will have that opportunity, too.
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