Can you Help me revise my essay?
My professor said I should try to add more of my own opinion into it, but I seem stuck as to what I should cut out and what to add and where. The premise of this essay was to argue against an editorial and incorporate one of the readings from our class into our argument. But I just dont know which part I need to change or manipulate.
Not long ago, 89 year old James Von Brunn opened fire in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum of Washington, DC, shooting and killing an African American Security guard by the name of Stephen Tyrone Johns. Being a lifelong racist and anti-semite as well as a holocaust denier, Von Brunn’s message was very clear. We are as much a hate corrupt society as ever we were in the past. And indeed, hate is the most resilient parasite mankind has ever known. Hooked on to our core and ever chewing. But then again how do we, as a society, finally cure this infection, this disease?
After the many atrocious crimes committed in the name of hate, the United States government has authorized a legislation that punishes already punishable crimes more severely if they were motivated by hate. Thus we send a message to society that we will not stand for hate nor any violent demonstration of it. However, no matter how noble these laws seem to be, there are many arguments against this legislation. For one, can we really intensify the punishment for a crime, simply for what the perpetrator was thinking (Hennigan)? Is is constitutional to compensate the victim of a hate crime more than the victim of the same crime not motivated by hate (Hennigan)?
Richard Cohen, in an editorial of the Winchester Star, talks about the Von Brunn incident and how it apparently proves the "stupidity" of hate crime laws. In the hate crimes bill it is stated that “A prominent characteristic of a violent crime motivated by bias is that it devastates not just the actual victim...but frequently savages the community sharing the traits that caused the victim to be selected” (Winchester star, 4 august 2009, 1). Cohen refutes the logic of the bill, reasoning that every crime affects a community in one way or another. Moreover, in this particular case the community targeted is unclear, since it was a black man that was shot, albeit in a the Holocaust Memorial Museum. Therefore who exactly did the hate crime affect? Another problem in the system, argues Cohen, is that “the only real purpose of hate-crime laws is to reassure politically significant groups--blacks, Hispanics, Jews, gays, etc.--that someone cares about them,” meanwhile all the criminal
Although these arguments are convincing and seem reasonable, they fall short as Cohen construes the point of these hate crime laws. Addressing the first argument, that all crimes affect their respective communities, this may be true. However those crimes do not attack an identity or a race, and they are not intended to incite terror in a particular group of people. The initial motivation of any hate crime is to attack the identity of the victim and to devastate the group to which he or she belongs. Ultimately sending a message that the group is not welcome and is somehow not worthy of existence. And as for who the Holocaust museum shooting affected, would it not seem to have affected both the black and Jewish communities, seeing as Von brunn hated both?
In his essay, “Is Hate A Crime,” Jim Hennigan addresses some of the other issues, including those mentioned prior to Cohen, and quite eloquently tears them away. Regarding the argument that essentially we are punishing a person for thinking the wrong thing; it isn’t his thoughts we are punishing. We are punishing the person for his violent demonstration of what he was thinking. Writes Hennigan, “What people intend and what motivates them when they act criminally has, for ages, instructed judges and juries how they should mete out the most appropriate sentence for the crime committed” (Par. 12). That is, the very intention of sending a message of hate changes the ramifications of a crime, of the action not the thought, and thus his penalty. The same goes for the argument of unequal treatment of victims. The same crime in itself becomes a different crime based on who was attacked and why. And so, the consequences of the crime change (Par. 16).
As for the last argument; what we hope to change with these laws? Hennigan explains that that the main premise of these crimes is terrorism, not vandalism or murder (Par. 16). These crimes are intended to intimidate and instill fear in all people of that identity or race. And we, as a civil society, must show that we can not tolerate terrorism of any kind; be it 9/11 or simply vandalizing someone's property because of who he is or to what he belongs. We must show the minions of hate that, regardless of who someone is or what he believes, we do not accredit nor endorse terrorism.
Thank you for any help:)
- 8 years agoFavorite Answer
Your essay is thoughtful and well written. If your professor is looking for more of an opinion from you I would approach this by writing a response to Cohen, as though you were submitting a "Letter to the Editor" to the Winchester Star. In such a response you would not be quoting sources but making assertions regarding your beliefs. "Cohen is wrong because of A, B, and C".
Incorporate that into your essay just after your description of the Cohen editorial. Then go on to cite the sources supporting your argument.
Hope this helps.