Hate Crimes: Criminal Law & Identity Politics

By James B. Jacobs; Kimberly Potter | Go to book overview
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4
Social Construction of a Hate Crime Epidemic

It has become nearly impossible to keep track of the shocking rise in brutal attacks directed against individuals because they are black, Latino, Asian, white, disabled, women, or gay. Almost daily, the newspapers report new and even more grotesque abominations. . . . As ugly as this situation is now, it is likely to worsen throughout the remainder of the decade and into the next century as the forces of bigotry continue to gain momentum. Jack Levin and Jack McDevitt, Hate Crimes. The Rising Tide of Bigotry and Bloodshed

IT IS WIDELY BELIEVED that since the mid- 1980s the United States has been experiencing a hate crime epidemic. This belief has been expressed over and over again by politicians, journalists, scholars, and spokespersons for racial, religious, gay and lesbian, and other advocacy groups. Leo McCarthy, lieutenant governor of California, declared that "[t]here is an epidemic of hate crimes and hate violence rising in California"; 1 Mississippi State Senator Bill Minor warned, "this is the type of crime that easily spreads like an epidemic."2 The District Attorney for St. Paul, Minnesota claimed that state and local governments faced a "massive increase in hate crimes." 3 A journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that "hate-motivated violence is spreading across the United States in 'epidemic' proportions."4 Dr. Arthur Caliandro, cochair of the religious group, Partnership of Faith, termed hate crimes "a virus that has turned into a disease that has grown into an epidemic." 5 A New York Times journalist characterized the incidence of hate crime

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