Senate Bill Tracks Hate Crimes Against The Homeless
Helping the homeless is like fighting cancer. They're both noble goals that have been around forever, but as time goes by there are newer, trendier causes such as AIDS, global warming, H1N1 and elections in Iran that get the spotlight attention. Yet the homeless remain, right there, in the middle of the street, and we drive on by.
A bill in the Senate endorsed by Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) seeks to include attacks against the homeless in hate crime statistics. Currently the FBI tracks hate crime data based on violence prejudiced against race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and disability.
This bill would only include these attacks in federal statistics; it wouldn't actually make it a hate crime. But that seems to be the end goal, and some states are already considering it, with Cardin's home state of Maryland leading the way.
Sweet! Problem solved. Let's go back to our warm plush duplexes and ... wait, what?
Shannon Moriarty of the End Homelessness blog wonders if hate crime legislation is really the solution here:
The push for hate crime protection is valuable because it highlights yet another detrimental effect of living without a home. But hate crime legislation will do nothing to advance people's understanding of the root causes of homelessness or progress us towards any real solutions. The most effective way to fight hate crimes against the homeless is to remove "homeless" from the equation with housing.
It's a cheap stopgap by Congress. We can't give you a place to live, but if someone kills or maims you, well, at least the person who did it, if caught, will be going away for quite a while.
There can't be that many people that sincerely fall under the umbrella of "hating homeless people." If they do exist, then, well, they probably deserve to have some kind of extra punishment, because hurting homeless for fun? Well, that ain't right.
And per Newton's Third Law, the inverse would also true. The language of the law states that crimes based on one's "homeless status" would be included. So they would also track hate crimes that the homeless impose on people, simply because they have a house.