Opinion | What’s Wrong With Our Hate Crime Laws?

Produced by ‘The Argument’

Strongly held opinions. Open-minded debates. Only occasional yelling. “The Argument” is a weekly ideas show, hosted by Jane Coaston.

This month a gunman killed eight people at three Atlanta-area spas, including six women of Asian descent. Authorities say it’s too early to declare the attacks a hate crime.

Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia have hate crime laws on the books, designed to add further penalties for perpetrators whose biases led to their crime. But the recent mass shooting has prompted the question of when a crime is called a hate crime and who decides.

It’s also unclear whether charging someone with a hate crime is the best answer we have as a society for punishing people who commit these kinds of crimes. On this episode of “The Argument,” we discuss whether hate crime laws are working and what our other options are, with Kevin Nadal, professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and Steven Freeman, vice president for civil rights at the Anti-Defamation League.

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Learn More

Anti-Defamation League’s “Introduction to Hate Crime Laws”

N.A.A.C.P.’s state-by-state database of hate crime laws

Sarah Lustbader’s article “More Hate Crime Laws Would Not Have Prevented the Monsey Hannukkah Attack” in The Appeal.

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“The Argument” is produced by Phoebe Lett, Elisa Gutierrez and Vishakha Darbha, and edited by Alison Bruzek and Paula Szuchman; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair; music and sound design by Isaac Jones. Special thanks to Shannon Busta.

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