Hate Crimes Must Be Punished

531 Words3 Pages
Hate crimes are like messages to members of a certain group that they are unwelcome in a particular neighborhood, community, school, or workplace. Hate crimes are criminal offenses, usually involving violence, intimidation or vandalism, in which the victim is targeted because of race, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, sex or political affiliation. Hate crimes can occur at home, at school, at places of worship, at work, on the street - virtually anywhere. A hate crime has many victims as it not only victimizes the immediate victim, but also impacts the larger community by creating fear and insecurity among all members of the group that the victim represents. Many people perceive hate crime perpetrators as crazed hate-filled neo-Nazis or "skinheads". But research by the FBI, reveals that fewer than 5% of the offenders were members of organized hate groups. Otherwise law-abiding young people who see little wrong with their actions carry out most hate crimes. Alcohol and drugs sometimes help fuel these crimes, but the main determinant appears to be personal prejudice, a situation that colors people's judgment, blinding the aggressors to the immorality of what they are doing. Such prejudice is most likely rooted in an environment that disdains someone who is "different" or sees that difference as threatening. This is not to say that neo-Nazis or skinheads do not partake in criminal hate activities. By far the largest determinant of hate crimes is racial bias, with African Americans the group at greatest risk. In 1996, 60%, were promulgated because of race, with close to two-thirds (62%) targeting African Americans. Furthermore, the type of crime committed against this group has not changed much since the 19th century; it still includes bombing and vandalizing churches, burning crosses on home lawns, and murder. Ethnic minorities often become targets of hate crimes because they are perceived to be new to the country even if their families have been here for generations, or simply because they are seen as different from the mainstream population. The most socially acceptable, and probably the most widespread, form
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