|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.|
"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