8/30/2017 6:08:00 PM EDITORIAL: Indiana needs hate crimes bill
You can look at the most recent report on hate incidents in Bloomington as the glass half full.
The number of hate incidents documented by the Bloomington Human Rights Commission during the past year was one fewer than the year before.
Or you can look at it as the glass half empty.
There were 13 hate incidents documented by the Bloomington Human Rights Commission during the past year.
When it comes to hate, we take the negative view of things. It’s good that the numbers didn’t go up. It’s good the increase in hate incidents feared after the last election didn’t materialize here.
But it’s bad and worse that 13 incidents of hate were recorded in our community last year.
These incidents included slurs yelled from moving vehicles, racist fliers posted where people could see them, hate-filled vandalism painted in public places, verbal harassment and physical encounters. People were targeted because of race, sexual orientation, religion and nationality.
Thank goodness there weren’t more, but 13 is too many. Half that would be too many. One would be too many.
The Bloomington Human Rights Commission planned to discuss this week a hate crimes bill that is expected to be introduced in the 2018 Indiana General Assembly. If it’s like previous unsuccessful bills, it will impose tougher sentences for crimes motivated by race, religion, sex, disability, gender identity or sexual orientation.
Such a bill deserves to pass and be signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb.
That would mean Indiana would no longer be one of only five states in the nation that does not have a law criminalizing various types of bias-motivated violence or intimidation. It would allow Indiana to leave the company of Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina and Wyoming as states that do not recognize hatred of a whole group of people as an aggravating circumstance in crimes.
It’s past time Indiana joined the vast majority of states on the right side of this issue.