When Spring vacation in the Deer Park Schools conveniently coincided with the Superior Court calendar, Edna decided to take a week’s vacation so she and the boys could go to the trial. It would be a worthwhile extracurricular field trip added to their education.
What it did do was entertain more questions.
As they drove away from the Courthouse, Sean started out with,
“I get what murder is but what exactly is a hate crime?”
“Good question.” agreed Randy.
“Look it up when we get home.”, Edna’s avoiding answer.
“I wonder if all this daily crap we put up with at school is hate stuff. It probably isn’t a crime but it oughta be.”
The drive back to Wellpinit was filled with more small talk revolving around the trial and how it might turn out. Edna tried to referee but without much success. Each time she said anything the boys just yelled louder. Getting back home Sean and Randy raced for the family PC. Randy won and jammed in hate crime in the search box.
The computer coughed up,
RCW 9A.36.080 Malicious harassment—Definition and criminal penalty.
A person is guilty of malicious harassment if he or she maliciously and intentionally commits one of the following acts because of his or her perception of the victim’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or mental, physical, or sensory handicap:
“Hey, Mom. What does perception mean?”
“That means what someone thinks is true of something or someone.”
“You mean if I think Sean is a bum then that’s my “perception “ of him?
“Right, and I ‘m sure that’s his perception of you, too under the same circumstances.”
“Well, this thing goes on and on and on, without saying hate even once. What’s that about?”
Over Randy’s shoulder, Sean tries to explain.
“Look Bro, lawyers get paid by the word and politicians get paid on how much time they spend writing laws and arguing about what they write and judges get paid to decide who wins.”
“What do the losers get, Sean?”
“The short end of the stick, Randy. The whole thing just keeps repeating itself, so they’re never out of work and still get paid.”
“Looking at this thing with all the ifs, thens and buts, somebody must be making a bunch of money on this one. Hell’s fire, they can’t even agree on what is what, who is who and why is why is important. Just look at all this crap.”
Randy printed out three copies and Edna and the boys struggled to make sense out of the RCW
(a) Causes physical injury to the victim or another person;
(b) Causes physical damage to or destruction of the property of the victim or another person; or
(c) Threatens a specific person or group of persons and places that person, or members of the specific group of persons, in reasonable fear of harm to person or property. The fear must be a fear that a reasonable person would have under all the circumstances. For purposes of this section, a “reasonable person” is a reasonable person who is a member of the victim’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, or sexual orientation, or who has the same mental, physical, or sensory handicap as the victim. Words alone do not constitute malicious harassment unless the context or circumstances surrounding the words indicate the words are a threat. Threatening words do not constitute malicious harassment if it is apparent to the victim that the person does not have the ability to carry out the threat.
(2) In any prosecution for malicious harassment, unless evidence exists which explains to the trier of fact’s satisfaction that the person did not intend to threaten the victim or victims, the trier of fact may infer that the person intended to threaten a specific victim or group of victims because of the person’s perception of the victim’s or victims’ race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or mental, physical, or sensory handicap if the person commits one of the following acts:
(a) Burns a cross on property of a victim who is or whom the actor perceives to be of African American heritage; or
(b) Defaces property of a victim who is or whom the actor perceives to be of Jewish heritage by defacing the property with a swastika.
This subsection only applies to the creation of a reasonable inference for evidentiary purposes. This subsection does not restrict the state’s ability to prosecute a person under subsection (1) of this section when the facts of a particular case do not fall within (a) or (b) of this subsection.
(3) It is not a defense that the accused was mistaken that the victim was a member of a certain race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, or sexual orientation, or had a mental, physical, or sensory handicap.
(4) Evidence of expressions or associations of the accused may not be I introduced as substantive evidence at trial unless the evidence specifically relates to the crime charged. Nothing in this chapter shall affect the rules of evidence governing impeachment of a witness.
(5) Every person who commits another crime during the commission of a crime under this section may be punished and prosecuted for the other crime separately.
(6) For the purposes of this section:
(a) “Sexual orientation” has the same meaning as in RCW 49.60.040.
(b) “Threat” means to communicate, directly or indirectly, the intent to:
(i) Cause bodily injury immediately or in the future to the person threatened or to any other person; or
(ii) Cause physical damage immediately or in the future to the property of a person threatened or that of any other person.
(7) Malicious harassment is a class C felony.
(8) The penalties provided in this section for malicious harassment do not preclude the victims from seeking any other remedies otherwise available under law.
(9) Nothing in this section confers or expands any civil rights or protections to any group or class identified under this section, beyond those rights or protections that exist under the federal or state Constitution or the civil laws of the state of Washington.
After they had all had a chance to read and try to understand the law, Edna’s responded with,
“That whole thing sounds like they’ve called it Malicious harassment instead of Hate crime and then made up ways on how to avoid getting prosecuted for it. Whatever it was to begin with.”