The Utah Legislature won’t pass a good hate crimes bill. The usual excuse for not passing a real hate crimes law is that a hate crimes designation punishes someone’s state of mind, and how can we fairly do that?

News flash to the legislators: We do it all the time. The difference between a murder charge and a manslaughter charge is the state of mind of the perpetrator. The victim is exactly as dead in both cases.

Most criminal laws have various levels of severity based on the actions and statements of the criminal. A swastika painted on a synagogue door is a hate crime. Someone’s initials painted on a fence is not. It’s not that complicated.

If legislators don’t like the electorate doing their job for them via ballot propositions, they should do their job themselves. We hate doing it, it is a pain in the butt, and we’re not very good at it, but if they won’t do it, somebody has to.

Pass a real hate crimes bill. We don’t want to have to do your job for you. Again.

Gene Mahalko, Salt Lake City