Reading about the death of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado and the capture of his accused murderer here: http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/11/18/puerto.rico.gay.teen.slain/index.html
By the comments, many people do not understand the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and why it was passed. Premeditated murder is evil by itself, and the victim is dead, no matter how he arrived at that state. However, the perpetrator goes beyond the bounds when he (or she) uses the murder as a statement of terror against a group that happens to include the victim, especially when the murder was committed solely because of the victim's inclusion in that group. The Holocaust comes to mind, and the Trade Towers. When the message of the murder is not just to kill one individual, but to put terror in the hearts and minds of all members of the group to which the victim belongs, that act needs to be set apart and recognized as particularly heinous. I'm glad that our society has chosen to send a return message to all who contemplate such acts, and hope that it may prevent others. Does anyone think that prosecution of hate crimes will aid in prevention of such crimes?