Originally Posted by Fuuma
Do we agree what the accused was thinking is, generally speaking, a factor in, say, a murder case? Or maybe a self-defense (did I believe I was in danger etc.). If there is thought policing it is a basic component of the law and not something specific to hate crime laws, this is all I am saying.
Without getting into thought crimes/hate crimes per se, people are confusing how the law looks at intent with the idea of hate crimes. It is a different kind of analysis. This is simplifying a bit, but the kind of in-your-head analysis that criminal law focuses on is not why you did something, but whether or not you really intended to to do what you did. So if you gave your wife a glass of anti-freeze, the question is 1. did you mean to give her anti-freeze and 2. did you mean for it to kill her; rather than A. did you kill her because she was gay and black or B. did you kill her because the evil bitch gave away your star wars figurines. Even the "crime of passion" defense is not so much focused on the reason you did something, but whether or not you were reasonably inflamed such that you weren't acting with care or real intent, i.e., not whether or not she deleted your Pokemon account and so deserved to die, so much as whether or not you were so enraged about the loss of your Pokemon account that you couldn't think straight and poured anti-freeze down her throat. The general reason for this is that we assume that passionate responses to certain events are normal human behavior and we are less inclined to punish "normal" as severely, both out of fairness and also because the deterrent factor is lower (passionate people are going to passion). This is a qualitative difference from saying some motives are better or worse than others. While motive does get addressed sometimes in sentencing, I think, that is supposed to be rare and carefully applied, e.g., extenuating circumstances.