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Eddie Bernice Johnson
Should attacks on the homeless be classified as hate crimes?
Should attacks on the homeless be classified as hate crimes?

In 2006, I wrote a column for The Times questioning the wisdom of hate-crime laws that provide additional punishment for acts of violence if they are motivated by racial animus or some other kind of bigotry. One of my arguments was that as the idea became entrenched that the worst crimes are hate crimes, other groups of victims would have to be added to the definition. I wrote: “Call it the Jimmy Durante factor. Durante was the 1940s comedian whose catchphrase was: ‘Everybody wants to get into the act!’ And once legislatures began to enact hate-crimes laws, everyone — that is every constituency with political clout — got into the act of agitating to be...

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