There is an interesting claim in Massachusetts where three women are charged with a hate crime for allegedly beating a gay man at a train station. In their defense, lawyers are arguing that it is effectively impossible for the women to commit a hate crime because they are lesbians.
The arrest of Felicia Stroud, 18, her sister Erika Stroud, 21, of Dorchester, and Lydia Sanford, 20, of Dorchester has revised the ongoing controversy over hate crimes, which many question on free speech grounds. The laws are also controversial because they can be used to significantly increase sentencing based on allegations of a crime against a protected class.
The women are charged with assault and battery with intent to intimidate and face up to a 10 years.
The mother of the two Stroud defendants, Carolyn Euell, 38, insists that they “can’t be hateful” because they are lesbians.
The two sisters and one of their domestic partners, Lydia Sanford, are accused of viciously beating the man after he bumped them with his backpack on a stairwell. The victim said that they shouted anti-gay comments as they beat him — ultimately allegedly breaking his nose.
One comment on the case stood out. Civil-rights attorney Chester Darling is quoted as saying “[n]0 one should go to court. It’s knuckle justice. It’s a fair exchange.”
The issue of people in protect groups being charged under hate crimes has been raised before. Some people in the African-American community, for example, have argued that it is impossible for blacks to be racists. There is also the issue of whether screaming such slurs is evidence of a hate crime. Yet, there remains the question of how to treat other cases. If such comments are not enough to support a hate crime in this case, there remains the other cases involving defendants who insist that, while they may have used anti-gay or racist terms, their actions are not motivated by the status of the victims. What do you think?