THW not give heavier punishment to hate crimes

Motion: THW not give heavier punishment to hate crimes.

Government Case:

House: 6 rational Australian citizens.

Case Statement: No heavier punishment for race related hate crimes. It is inherently difficult to establish racist ideology as a motive for crimes and even if it can be ascertained beyond reasonable doubt, it is principally wrong.

Status Quo:

-Spike in immigrant population.

-Immigrants replacing Australians’ jobs in the middle and lower classes.

-Growing resentment against the immigrant population and government for not regulating the immigrant population.

-Immigrants live in poorer neighbourhoods with inherently high crime rates. Plus opulent dressing and heavy jewellery make Indian origin immigrants easy targets. Thus, regular muggings can be misinterpreted as Race hate crimes.


1) Proximate Act:

An individual cannot be punished for more than the direct consequence of his action. Even then it must be established that the person had fair knowledge of the consequences of his act. Irrespective of the incentive for engaging in the criminal activity, the penalty can’t be based on the same.

All crimes must invite the same penalty based on the consequence and intent; irrespective of the motive. Therefore a race hate criminal must get the due penalty for the crime committed, not more.

Example: One can get life for murder, less for manslaughter (where intent may not be to cause the effect resulted); but committing a murder on the basis of race cannot invite more than the maximum penalty.

2) Failure of Deterrence Theory:

The criminal is aware of the penalty related to committing the crime and it doesn’t stop him from engaging in it anyways. Therefore, an increase in penalty will be ineffective as it is significant in status quo and yet fails the individual from having committed the crime in the first place.

Example: Despite the frequency of use of the death penalty in Texas, the crime rate is higher than most states.

3) Principal of reciprocity of equality:

Increased penalty suggested for the reason that the individual has violated the principle of equality of all people. Yet the government will be applying the same standard while increasing the penalty in favour of a specific segment of the society.

So now, assaulting a brown person in Australia will incur a heavier penalty than committing the same act against a Caucasian. This will perpetual the perceived inequality in the society.

4) Segregation versus Integration:

The long term objective of the Australian government is to integrate the society rather than segregate it. This move is inherently divisive in nature and will inherently perpetuate the societal differences.

5) Perception of Government and Public Resentment:

Public resentment will be alleviated by increased penalty as it will be perceived that the government is favouring with the immigrant population. This will compound the problem as the initial resentment was due to the immigrants replacing the average Australian in the job sector and the government’s perceived role in enabling this.

6) Inclusive Solution:

It is essential to eliminate the cause of resentment and strengthen law enforcement in order to solve the problem. Sending out a social message will be pointless as it will heighten the resentment thereby increasing the number of hate crimes.

Opposition Case:

Case Statement: Higher penalty essential for the purpose of sending out a social message.


1) Social Message:

The government needs to send out a strong message as these crimes are escalating and are creating deep rooted social issues.

The message will bolster the opinion of neutral Australians, thereby inciting a social rejection of such crimes. This will in turn deter people from engaging in such activities.

2) Chilling Effect:

As a result of these crimes, the coloured population in Australia is becoming increasingly insecure to an extent that they are now afraid of even leaving their homes. A strong social message will reinstate faith in the system and law.

Therefore, the punishment for a crime should factor in its consequences and thereby be proportional to it.

3) Nature of Hate Crimes:

These crimes do not result in individualistic crimes only but also have a larger social impact. The motive to commit such crimes is based on racist ideologies. Since the actual effect is more than individualistic harm, the crime should be punished with more than the standard penalty.

Hate crimes have a divisive effect on society.

Example: Terrorism

4) Nature of Penalty:

Since the crime committed violates the tenets of equality, the government wouldn’t be in violation of the same tenets by applying a higher penalty to such crimes. If an individual has harmed someone on the basis of inequality, he/she deserves to be punished unequally.

Courtesy: RVCE A vs. IITBDSM [Shobhit Singhal, Pranay Bhatia]

(NLSD 2010 Finals)

Contributions: Pranay Bhatia, Shobhit Singhal, Vaibhav Pittie (Opp Case)


Prabhat said…
Very nice idea to have a blog of this kind and you guys should keep this up. Just a few comments:

First off, change your background. While it looks really nice and all it makes it really difficult to read the material.

Secondly, a few comments on some of your constructive arguments

Argument 1: The argument is VERY hazy here. For instance, you say "All crimes must invite the same penalty based on the consequence and intent". First of all, this is confused because the intent and the consequence may not be the same thing. Thus if a pull the trigger of a gun and I miss (attempted murder), I get a much lower sentence then if I hit you (murder) though my intention is identical. In other words, intent(I want to kill you) and consequence (racial tension) really need to be separated here and more importantly they are not relevant. What is relevant is motive. This argument needs to be about- "I killed you because I want your money" versus "I killed you because you are an ugly brown choot" and why neither of these reasons is more or less acceptable than the other- murder is illegal because it violates the person's right to life and in that context, your reason for doing so is irrelevant.

Point 2: Is not a constructive argument (Reason to support case statement). This is a rebuttal to a potential argument which opp may make. I am not sure why many gov teams (including you) put it in their constructives.

Points 4,5 and 6 are all different ways of saying the same thing, in addition to which they come quite close to overlapping with Point 3.

I won't comment on the opp case, because it wasn't yours and because I am not generally of the points for and points against way of analyzing debates.
Firstly, thanks and do send in any case studies or others such you may have worked on...

On 1... The first argument is intended to indicate that the intent and consequence have varying degrees if dis-alignment. The latter part of your comment takes the argument to its logical conclusion.

The gov case hinges on the theories of crime and punishment and hence the deterrence theory constitutes the constructive case (or so it seemed to us).

4 observes the case from the State's perspective in terms of legislative measures for the greater good.
5 on the other hand dwells more in to the socio political outcome.
6 is a cost benefit between symbolism intended to suppress the crime (at the cost of backlash) and engaging with the root issues.

I strongly believe deliberating both sides of the coins is crucial for a debater as it enables you to exercise a greater degree of counter-intuitiveness in debates.

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