Hate crimes are,
basically, criminal acts motivated by bias. Such acts include, but are not exclusive to, murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, aggravated assault, simple assault, intimidation, robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, and destruction or vandalism.
The American Psychology Association defines a hate crime as a criminal offence motivated by a bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or gender identity, regardless of whether the offence was made unto a person or property.
In Europe, according to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), hate crimes are defined as criminal offences by the criminal law and are motivated by bias.
Hate crimes are on the rise
As the years go by, the number of hate crimes recorded are increasing.
In the U.S. they have seen an increase in reported hate crimes and in 2019 itself, they had a total of 7,314 hate crimes on record.
Why, for heaven sake?
According to Dr Phyllis B. Gerstenfeld in Hate crimes: Causes, controls, and controversies, people committing hate crimes are driven by three motivations:
Thrill-seeking is the most common motive according to a study by McDevitt, Levin & Bennett back in 2002.
In these cases, offenders are young and a part of a group that is bored and looking for some thrill.
The study found that in most cases, the rest of the group might not actually have any bias against the victim party but simply follow what their leaders want them to do.
2. A form of defensive action
This is motivated by the offenders’ perception of an intrusion which will ultimately trigger them to commit the acts.
It is also stated in the same study by McDevitt, Levin & Bennett that these triggers aren’t necessarily major things that happen.
For example, when a black man moves into an all-white residential area like in Bensonhurst in 1989 where 4 young black boys were chased by a small mob and where 16-year-old Yusuf Hawkins was shot to death.
3. The crusader
This form of motivation is seen as a close resemblance to terrorist attacks.
The offenders in this case made it their personal mission to wipe out a certain demographic off the world because of their personal views.
At the time McDevitt, Levin & Bennett published their findings, these cases were considered by them to be rare. However, global observations in today’s environment prove otherwise.
Some recent examples of horrific acts include the Charleston Church Shooting in South Carolina, USA and the Christchurch Mosque Shooting in New Zealand.
Whether the person or persons are simply acting out of boredom, twisted in the head, or are on a personal crusade, any hate crime act brings out psychological trauma.
Whether it was verbal abuse or a little more physical, hate crimes leave a big wound and can be difficult to recover from it.
Nothing justifies hate crimes.
Unfortunately, even though humankind has already achieved so much over the years with technological and scientific advancements we’ve never dreamed of having back then, there is still a number of the population that still stands with, supports or even partake in hate crimes all across the globe.
To some of them, they are delusionally under the impression that their actions are justifiable due to their feeling of superiority over a certain group that they target.
Nothing justifies hurting an innocent group of people.
Hate crimes should always be reported to the authorities and if you are a witness to it taking place, don’t turn a blind eye and ignore the voiceless.
Ending an issue such as this starts with all of us understanding and helping each other.
1) What is hate crime | OSCE – ODIHR. (n.d.). OSCE ODIHR Hate Crime Reporting. https://hatecrime.osce.org/what-hate-crime
2) Gerstenfeld, P. B. (2017). Hate Crimes: Causes, Controls, and Controversies (4th ed.). SAGE Publications, Inc.
3) American Psychological Association. (2017, August). The Psychology of Hate Crimes. https://www.apa.org/advocacy/interpersonal-violence/hate-crimes
4) Paterson, Jenny & Walters, Mark & Brown, Rupert & Fearn, Harriet. (2018). THE SUSSEX HATE CRIME PROJECT FINAL REPORT. 10.13140/RG.2.2.33903.94889.