A reader points out that Fred Lawrence ’77 is the new dean at the The George Washington University Law School. Lawrence area of expertise is hate crimes. See here for an interesting background article.

But were the grisly killings worse because the perpetrators were motivated by the fact that Shepard was gay and Byrd was black?

Absolutely, according to LAW Professor Frederick Lawrence, who argues in a new book in favor of so-called hate crime laws, which mandate stiffer sentences for criminals who act out of bigotry. Punishing Hate: Bias Crimes Under American Law was recently published by Harvard University Press.

“A physical attack harms the body,” Lawrence says. “A bias crime harms the spirit and soul. Bias crimes are also worse than otherwise similar crimes because members of the target community are directly affected, and they often show a great sense of withdrawal and separation from society. And bias crimes impact society at large.”

Maybe. The article also notes that

James Jacobs, a law professor at New York University, thinks the cost of enforcing the proposed federal legislation would derail other federal priorities such as combating organized crime, terrorism, and counterfeiting.

Anyone wish that the federal government had put more emphasis on terrorism back in 1998?

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