Is Killing Liberals a Hate Crime?

Slate finds few states consider political violence a hate crime
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2008 5:45 PM CDT
Is Killing Liberals a Hate Crime?
People enter the Second Presbyterian Church Monday, July 28, 2008 in Knoxville, Tenn. as they attend a candlelight service for members of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.    (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

(Newser) – The suspect in last weekend’s Knoxville church shooting told police that “liberals should be killed because they were ruining the country.” But Tennessee, like the federal government and most states, doesn’t extend hate-crime law to political affiliation, explains Chris Wilson in Slate. In fact, legal experts say politically motivated hate crimes are rarely prosecuted.

Tennessee authorities are investigating the church shooting as a hate crime because the suspect also confessed to targeting gays, and state law only specifically mentions “race, religion, color, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, or gender.” But a few states—including West Virginia, Iowa, and Oregon, along with DC—consider political violence a hate crime. (Read more church shootings stories.)

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