Jackson Toby, a long-time NAS member and professor emeritus of sociology at Rutgers University, examines the recent "bias crimes" conviction Dharun Ravi, a former undergraduate at the university in this piece over at Minding the Campus.
The case attracted national attention: Ravi had posted a video of an encounter between his gay roommate and another man, after which the roommate committed suicide.
But tragic as that was, Toby examines how exactly "bias" fits into the case amid many other factors, and finds that it often adds needless layers of complexity and necessitates questionably harsher penalties. A major part of the problem, he concludes, is that "bias," like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. The penalty for it, on the other hand, is set in stone.
At the same time, Hans Bader of the Competitive Enterprise Institute argues that New Jersey's "hate crimes" law is of a piece with similar anti-bullying and anti-harassment legislation which is increasingly weighted against the accused.