The statement by the defense attorney frames the issue exactly right. Why not just charge people with assault and battery (or whatever crime they are accused of committing) if they deserve it? Three Massachusetts lesbians charged with hate crimes for beating up a gay man:
Here is a video of some New Zealand ladies taking on a guy who mouthed off to one of them on the sidewalk:Three women identified by their lawyers as lesbians were arraigned yesterday on a hate crime charge for allegedly beating a gay man at the Forest Hills T station in an unusual case that experts say exposes the law’s flawed logic.“My guess is that no sane jury would convict them under those circumstances, but what this really demonstrates is the idiocy of the hate-crime legislation,” said civil liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate. “If you beat someone up, you’re guilty of assault and battery of a human being. Period. The idea of trying to break down human beings into categories is doomed to failure.”
Here is a different story of some UK women who beat up the wrong man by mistake (they thought he "wolf whistled" them.
Update: The problem with hate crimes. Oh my. This is a great example. Thanks to The Other McCain.