Even though Hate Crimes have been around in the past, and have been most certainly been more violent in the past. Hate Crimes are most certainly still a problem in today’s society, but it is not dealt with the same violent manner as previously performed in the past. There are still violent acts done out of hate, but the battle has been a lot more words. Hate crimes are a serious problem in today’s society. In this paper, three topics will be discussed. (1) What are Hate Crimes, (2) Examples of Hate Crimes, and (3) Reasons for Hate Crimes.
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Hate Crimes are crimes done out of severe anger, ignorance, and lack of knowledge about other’s ideas and beliefs. Racism is a belief that one or more races is superior to others. Prejudice is prejudging others. “Gordon Alport, a professor at Emeritus of Psychology at Harvard University and an expert at prejudice defines prejudice as.. `a hostile attitude toward a person who belongs to a group, simply because he belong to that group, and therefore presumes to have the objectable qualities ascribed to that group'(Lang)23”
The most common way prejudice works is by stereotyping people, that is putting everyone from the same ethnic group together and assuming they all have the same negative characteristics or behave in the same way. This does not only apply to ethnic groups but also applies to race, religion, and other minorities. Hate crimes are so hard to count because it is not certain whether a crime is being committed out of hate.
In 1989-1991, a study done by Southern Poverty Law Center in Birmingham, Alabama, recorded an increase of hate crimes in those three years. The number of murders went up 100%, Cross burnings went up 200%, and vandalism went up 50%. These acts were said to be committed by a group of “skinheads” in the Ku Klux Klan. Ku Klux Klan started out as a secret club in 1866, just after the war, claiming “superiority of the southern white man.” (Lang)20
Basically the KKK is a group of extremist individuals stalking, intimidating, hanging, and hurting anyone that was not a straight puritan white male. Many of nowadays extremists stemmed from these “Knights” of white terror. (Lang)32.
Hate Crimes are not only against Races (Blacks, Whites, Hispanic, Chinese…) they are also against religious beliefs, sexual preferences, and other minorities in today’s society.
There are what they call far left extremists and far right extremists, and both have had their leaders. The far right extremists are the ones who want change and want it now. They want to have Black power. Not equal rights for all as preached by the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who was a minister that spoke out for the equal right of African Americans. Far left extremists want to rid the country of anything that is not “Pure” (the white Anglo/Saxon Puritan Male. [Lang]24)
Here are a few of the many examples of hate crimes. In 1980 a man shouted that he hated “fagots” and sprayed gunfire at a gay bar, killing two patrons (Out Now). In Maine, a gay man was thrown to his death off of a bridge by three teenagers, in 1984 (Out Now).
In June of 1982, Vincent Chin, a 27 year old Chinese/American was fatally beaten with a baseball bat outside of a Detroit bar by two white automobile factory workers who called him a “Jap” and blamed him for the loss of their job in the automobile industry (Jost)8.
There are also laws against hate crimes and punishments that are questionable. The question is “Should hate Crimes penalties be stiffened?” The yes side of this argument says “enhancing a criminal sentence for any hate crime in no way creates a thought crime or penalizes anyone’s conduct based upon a non-prescribable viewpoint or message that such conduct contains or expresses.” (Tribe)17
“In its present form HR 4797 (Hate Crime Penalty Enhancement Law) is unconstitutional has this both content based and view point based. It directly violates the First Amendment of the Constitution. It violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment , because it is impermissible vague in several respects giving inadequate notice of what it prohibits and inviting arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement”(Gellman)17.
About one half of all Americans(about 50 million to 60 million) own at least one gun. More than half a million subscribe to survival or pre-military magazines that are full of articles on survivalism, weapon use and guerilla tactics(lang(69). Meanwhile paranoia is growing as the Budget Deficit skyrockets, A.I.D.S epidemic threatens health and health care systems. These times can cause fear, insecurities, frustration, and anger which in turn inflames scapegoating and racial stereotyping and in turn results in resurgence of racism.
Freedom of Speech is one of the most significant rights given to all Americans but it is by far one of our biggest problems. The price we pay for Freedom of Speech and the ability to talk our mind is that we have to tolerate other person’s beliefs and opinions.
In the final analysis, one can frankly acknowledge that hate is taught. If each new generation were more tolerant of those who are different, perhaps hatred and prejudice would someday disappear from our world.(Lang)155.