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New Low: 39% Favor Tougher Prosecution for Hate Crime Suspects

Most Americans continue to think the government is too worried about the concerns of minorities in this country, and support for so-called “hate crime” laws has fallen to its lowest level ever.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 53% of American Adults now believe the government is too sensitive to the concerns of racial, ethnic, religious and social minorities. Twenty-seven percent (27%) feel the government is not sensitive enough to the concerns of these groups, while 14% say the level of government sensitivity is about right. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

These findings are little changed from October of last year.

Sixty-one percent (61%) of blacks believe the government is not sensitive enough to minority concerns. Fifty-nine percent (59%) of whites and 51% of adults of other races disagree and think the government is too sensitive in this area.

Now just 39% of all adults feel criminals should be prosecuted more severely if it can be proved that their crime was motivated by the victim’s race, color, religion, national origin or sexual orientation. That’s down 10 points from 49% in November 2009 just after President Obama signed into law hate crime legislation that added sexual orientation to other protected categories.  A plurality (46%) of voters now opposes prosecuting criminals more severely if they were motivated by race, color, religion, national origin or sexual orientation. Sixteen percent (16%) are undecided.

As they have in all previous surveys, Americans overwhelmingly believe it is better to allow free speech without government interference than to let the government decide what types of hate speech should be banned – by a 76% to 13% margin.

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The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on October 29-30, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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