Similar religious vandalism in Jerusalem.
Photo: Associated Press
Vandals broke into the St. Rose of Lima parish school in LA County, stabbed a painting of the Virgin Mary, wrote "666" on the walls, and defecated in the auditorium, reported the California Catholic Daily Wednesday. The school was found completely ransacked, with drawers thrown about and food destroyed. Local police are calling the vandalism "consistent with a 'hate crime.'"
There is no doubt that this sort of vandalism is unacceptable, and that the perpetrators should be brought to justice. But is this a "hate crime"? Hate crime legislation seeks additional punishment for crimes perpetrated based on the victim's membership (or perceived membership) in a social group, whether racial, ethnic, gender-based or sexual orientation-based. The thinking usually goes that this kind of violence threatens not only the victim, but also other members of that group, who must live in fear of future similar violence. Are members of the Catholic Church entitled to these extra protections? Is there a difference between groups in which membership is not chosen (such as race and, yes, sexuality) and groups in which membership is both chosen and political (say, Green Party members, animal rights activists or members of a religious group)?
Is this a hate crime, and deserving of additional punishment, or should it be treated as we would any other breaking, entering and vandalism case? I want your opinion.