The History Behind Hate Crime and the Existing Legislation

Powerful Essays
The History Behind Hate Crime and the Existing Legislation

Many political scientists and researchers to a number of policy arenas in the United States ranging from corporal punishment to the quality of urban life have applied Daniel Elazar’s concept of political cultures. For a vast majority of these policy programs, a considerable correlation has been found to exist between the region examined and its approach to a specific policy. Elazar focused on three primary political cultures: the Moralist political culture (MPC), the Individual political culture (IPC), and the Traditional political culture (TPC). These cultures have served as a basis for explaining the difference that exist in the political, social, and personal facets of each respective region. These ideas have been consistent throughout the course of this nation’s history, existing even in present times. I have chosen to focus on a policy program that has demanded a great deal of attention in more recent times, namely in the past few years: hate crime policy. With more widespread media coverage, hate crimes have become more prevalent and more publicized than ever before. The Benjamin Smith shootings and the murder of Matthew Shepard are only two examples of recent crimes, which have been considered hate crimes that have promoted politicians and legislators to address this ever-growing problem and formulate a solution. This paper will attempt to define and uncover the history behind hate crime and the existing legislation. Furthermore, I will explain my own hypothesis then examine regional difference in the approaches to hate crimes and compare and contrast them to Daniel Elazar’s idea of political cultures. My own hypothesis is that moralist cultures will have been the first to initiate hate crime policy and be most likely to have such policies followed by individualist, then traditionalist political cultures.

Hate Crime: Definition and History

Every since the body of James Byrd was found in pieces on a road in east Texas, the authorities have been struggling to bring charges to reflect the horror of the crime. “Murder seems too pat: Mr. Byrd was chained to a truck and dragged for almost three miles”. In Texas, simple murder does not carry the death penalty. But Mr. Byrd was black, apparently murdered by racists, so there is a call for this killing to be labeled a “hate crime”, for whi...

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...tiation of Hate Crime Law in the United States, 1978 to 1995: Innovation and Diffusion in the Criminalization of Bigotry.” American Sociological Review. April, 1998: 286-307.

4. Haider-Markel, Donald P. “The Politics of Social Regulatory Policy: State and Federal Hate Crime Policy and Implementation Effort.” Political Research Quarterly. March, 1998: 69-88.

5. “An Unwise Road in Texas.” The Economist. 20 June, 1998: 17.

6. “The Hate Debate.” The New Republic. 2 November, 1998: 7-8.

7. “1999 Hate Crime Laws: Anti-Defamation League.” URL:

8. “The White House Conference On Hate Crimes.” URL:

9. Elazar article

10. U.S. Census Bureau Statistical Abstracts of the United States: 1998. “No. 344- Hate Crimes- Number of Incidents, Offenses, Victims, and Offenders by Bias Motivation: 1996.” Statistical Abstract of the United States: 1998. 21 September, 1998: 215.

11. Wirt Lecture

12. Sharkansky article.

13. “Map of State Statutes: 1999 Hate Crime Laws.” URL:
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