Hate Crimes: Criminal Law & Identity Politics

By James B. Jacobs; Kimberly Potter | Go to book overview

9
Identity Politics and Hate Crimes

If any problem unites gay people with non- gay people, it is crime. If any issue does not call for special interest pleading, this is it. Minority advocates, including gay ones, have blundered insensitively by trying to carve out hate crime statutes and other special interest crime laws instead of focusing on tougher measures against violence of all kinds. In trying to sensitize people to crimes aimed specifically at minorities, they are inadvertently desensitizing them to the vastly greater threat of crimes against everyone.

Jonathan Rauch, gay journalist and scholar

IT HARDLY NEEDS SAYING that we share with the proponents of hate crime laws the goal of a tolerant society, in which people are judged by "the content of their character," not by their race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender. 1 We differ over the means for achieving that goal. The proponents believe that the message-sending potential and the deterrent power of criminal law will deter or persuade criminals and would- be criminals to desist from hate crimes and perhaps to hold fewer and less virulent prejudices. We find this implausible. The conduct which hate crime laws aim at is already criminal. Given that criminals ignore existing criminal laws and punishment threats, we doubt that the additional threat promised by hate crime laws adds much, if any, marginal deterrence; this is especially true for the most serious offenses. In any event, a highly bigoted offender can probably avoid the hate crime tariff by committing his crime silently. It is possible that the mere promulgation

-130-

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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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