At CT, J. Holbo kicks off a discussion of the moral and legal justifications for hate crimes legislation, and how calling it "thought crime" is basically ridiculous. Worth reading because (a) Holbo is uncharacteristically terse and (b) the comments thread's decent enough that I have little to add.
One can parse out a distinction between hate crimes legislation and other uses of mens rea in criminal law but, as the thread illustrates, it's an exceedingly fine line, and a much subtler one than is commonly supposed by the rhetoric of hate crimes legislation opponents. It's pretty clear, once you think this through, that the debate over hate crimes legislation is more "haggling over price" than some bright shining line of moral principle.
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