Hate Crimes: Criminal Law & Identity Politics

By James B. Jacobs; Kimberly Potter | Go to book overview
sumed mowing the lawn Mr. H. yelled at Kiley, "You cocksucker, I'm tired of your fucking games." Kiley interpreted this as harassment because of his sexual orientation. Later that day, Joshua, the H's son, asked Kiley to clean the grass off the driveway. Kiley agreed and swept the grass clippings into the street. Later in the day, Kiley discovered a pile of dirt and grass clippings on his front porch. When Mrs. H. saw Kiley throwing the clippings back in their driveway, Mrs. H. said that all she wanted was for him to be "a reasonable neighbor." Yelling ensued and Mr. H. called the police. Joshua H. started shouting at Kiley to clean up the grass, calling him a "faggot," a "queer," and a "punk." Joshua, with his fists in the air, challenged Kiley to "come on, let's get it on you faggot queer." When Kiley ordered Joshua to get off his property, Joshua hit him. In retaliation, Kiley squirted Joshua with a hose. Enraged, Joshua hit and kicked Kiley several times. Joshua was convicted of bias-motivated assault--a felony. 56
On December 23, 1993, the theft of a winter solstice banner depicting a yellow sun that said "Solstice is the reason for the season" was investigated by Wycoff, New Jersey police as a hate crime against atheists. The banner, erected by the New Jersey Chapter of American Atheists, was part of a holiday display open to all groups--Christian, Jewish, atheist, or any other group that wished to put up holiday decorations. A spokesperson for the American Atheists stated that the theft sends a message that "atheists will not be tolerated in Wycoff. It's like burning a cross on an African-American's lawn." 57 No anti-atheist graffiti or other evidence indicating prejudice accompanied the theft.

Conclusion

"Hate crime" is a social construct. It is a new term, which is neither familiar nor self-defining. Coined in the late 1980s to emphasize criminal conduct motivated by prejudice, it focuses on the psyche of the criminal rather than on the criminal's conduct. It attempts to extend the civil rights paradigm into the world of crime and criminal law.

How much hate crime there is and what the appropriate response should be depends upon how hate crime is conceptualized and defined. In constructing a definition of hate crime, choices must be made regarding the meaning of prejudice and the nature of the causal link between the offender's prejudice and criminal conduct.

"Prejudice" is an amorphous term. If prejudice is defined narrowly, to include only certain organized hate-based ideologies, there will be very

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Hate Crimes: Criminal Law & Identity Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • 1 - Introduction 3
  • 2 - What is Hate Crime? 11
  • Conclusion 27
  • 3 - Hate Crime Laws 29
  • Conclusion 42
  • 4 - Social Construction of a Hate Crime Epidemic 45
  • Conclusion 63
  • 5 - The Politics of Hate Crime Laws 65
  • Conclusion 77
  • 6 - Justification for Hate Crime Laws 79
  • Conclusion 90
  • 7 - Enforcing Hate Crime Laws 92
  • Conclusion 109
  • 8 - Hate Speech, Hate Crime, and the Constitution 111
  • Conclusion 128
  • 9 - Identity Politics and Hate Crimes 130
  • Conclusion 144
  • 10 - Policy Recommendations 145
  • Notes 155
  • Bibliography 187
  • Table of Cases 199
  • Index 201
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