Hate Crimes Must Be Punished

Satisfactory Essays
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


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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