Hate crime is defined as an offence in which a criminal identifies a victim at least in part because of animosity towards members of the group to which the victim belongs. Perpetrator’s intentions and relationship with the victim determine the nature and the extent of hate crimes. Since intention is relevant in providing the essential information on the crime, it is rarely looked into in details to reveal the magnitude of the crime.
Cases of hate crimes are familiar almost in all countries because of the weak justice systems that lack proper structures to deal with such behaviors. Unfortunately, it is hard to define hate crimes succinctly for it cuts across different fields from murder through assault, and including mere threats to intimidation among other criminal offences.
In other words, hate crime is a discourtesy without any particular judgment. Intolerance towards the victims of hate crime is the major single motivator of hate crimes. For these reasons, cases of hate crimes should be addressed promptly.
Rape and domestic battery are hate crimes because they psychologically torture and traumatize the victims causing more damages not only to the individuals but also to the families. Given that cases of hate crimes such as rape, domestic battery, murder, and human trafficking are increasing exponentially, the perpetrators of these violence acts need stricter penalties to deter them from perpetuating hate crimes in the society.
Just as previously mentioned, hate crimes are violent acts intended to hurt, intimidate or discriminate others on basis of gender, age, ethnicity or political affiliation. Rape and domestic battery are violent acts of hate crime that intimidate and discriminate women at home and in the society. Such cases of hate crime are exponentially increasing in the society because there are no provisions in the law, which ensure stricter penalties to men who are constantly intimidating and discriminating women.
Although the cases of rape and domestic battery are increasing, many cases go unreported because “…victims refuse to report such crimes so as to avoid the humiliation of recounting the event” (Gist 11). Since there are many unreported cases of rape and domestic battery that statistics have not revealed, perpetrators are continually committing more hate crimes while the victims continue to suffer without any justice.
Political affiliation and ethnicity contribute a lot to the hate crimes such as murder. Politicians misuse their political powers by inciting citizens to develop hatred towards each other basing on the political or ethnical orientation. For instance, the Rwandan genocide of April 1994 is still fresh in the minds of many people across the world.
The basis of this heinous act graduated from hate crimes because the majority Hutus felt superior to the minority Tutsis. The hate between the Hutus and the Tutsis did result from ethnic disparities, political incitement and support to one tribe.
Due to high rates of unemployment in most countries, human trafficking has increased to provide for the cheap labor, sexual pleasures or trafficking of illegal drugs. This constitutes hate crimes because it involves exploitation of the less privileged members of the society. Newton defines human trafficking as “the recruitment, transportation, harboring, or receipt of people for the purpose of exploitation” (43).
The most vulnerable to human trafficking are young energetic men, beautiful women and children. Human trafficking of young and energetic men provides cheap labor while women undergo sexual and labor exploitations. Exploitation of children in terms of labor denies them opportunity to continue with their education in order for them to become responsible members in the society. In addition, human trafficking provides an avenue of abusing and smuggling of drugs that have significantly affected the lives of youths in the world.
Now that the specific types of hate crimes have been examined thoroughly, what the government should do is definitely raise stricter rules to prevent these types of hate crimes from happening because perpetrators need to pay prices for what unlawfully they have done to society.
The judicial system should treat hate crimes cases differently because of their fatal consequences and their odious nature. According to scholars, among crimes of different natures the most destructive to the public safety and happiness should evoke severe punishment by the government.
Lieberman argues that, hate motivated crimes can result into deadly effects including riots (82). Cultural prejudices are widely accepted, shared, and endured in normal state of affairs in the communities in which they exist. People learn the cultural prejudices and stereotypes at tender age through the people close to them. If hate crimes are not condemned, they are likely to generate tensions, which can lead to community wide racial conflicts, civil unrest and deadly riots.
Even to date, the biggest question remains; what should be done to those individuals who acted on behalf of a group and led to the widespread killings just because the other individuals belonged to a different group? And which laws were they subjected ted to? It thus follows that, this was an extraordinary criminal act and therefore extraordinary process of punishment is vital.
In my own opinion, if those who fuelled the Rwandan genocide were heavily punished, crimes against humanity reported in other places like Darfur in Sudan could have been prevented.
Most of these crimes against humanity occur because most criminals fail to evaluate the value of damages they cause yet they gain so minimal in committing the hate crimes. According to McCain, the strong stand of the society should demonstrate that these types of behavior are intolerable; thus, the justification for increased penalties for the additional harm caused to the individual and the society at large.
Hate crimes are most likely to increase because the society condones and propagates favoritism against given groups. Thus, we need to treat the culprits of this social thorn like criminals and condemn their acts. However, they can be committed against members of larger communities even though it is the members of the most marginalized communities who suffer most. Hate crimes such as violence and murder are very detrimental to the economic and social status of a country.
They affect cities, counties and other economic productive areas thus putting the country at a serious risk of serious social and economical consequences. Levin and McDevitt assert that, “hate crimes might result to civil unrest, which in broad perspective can heighten the government expenditure by payment of overtime to medical personnel and police officers, loss of human capital through death or injuries, property loss and damage to property” (79).
In the long term, the economy suffers declines due to lack of contributive business environment which in turn leads to rise in economic hindrances like decline in tax income, increased insurance policy rates among other key economic factors. Moreover, residents and investors might abandon these environments and in addition, the quality of education declines due to the loss of extra revenue to fund education.
The city governments may have no choice but to cut the services they offer. Therefore, it is justifiable to enforce stricter penalties to the perpetrators of the hate crimes such as violence and murder because they affect the delivery of services by the government.
The law should warrant strict action against perpetrators of hate crimes with the intention of restoring the victim from the damages he/she suffers. This is because “unlike the ordinary law that penalizes the harm caused, hate crimes have a deeper impact on the victim than ordinary crimes and they affect others who are immediate members of a group” (Annual Reports: 2006, 2007).
My opinion is that, opportunistic preconception crimes justify additional punishment because such crimes hold the belief that some people are vulnerable to hate crime targets due to their affiliations which in most cases are groups that are disadvantaged.
In addition, penalties made by hate criminals should be made more substantial than that by ordinary crimes by the fact that they leave so much degradation in their wake (Wellman 65). Consequently, the law should use extraordinary means to punish the culprits and to restore the victims.
After hate crimes disintegrate into societal unrest, political leaders in their bid to secure public support might give speeches that incite people further. One might argue that the problem here is politicians not hate criminals; well, without the hate crimes, the politicians might lack a platform to promote their propaganda.
Moreover, such speeches pass for hate crimes in themselves. Therefore, if the concerned parties do not scrutinize the content of such speeches they tend to raise the political temperature in a society. This real problem happens at the expense of the economic development.
The political turmoil may further result into leadership wrangles within the political systems .The expansive result of this is that the citizens may fail to get services from the government because of the observed laxity in delivery of services resulting from political interference.
The heightened political tensions might also result to political rivalry with other nations and these will cost the country economically, because if the situation persists, willing foreign investors might not fill safe to invest or will not be ready to expand their investment that denies employment to the citizens.
In addition, tourist visiting the country would be concerned about their security. Such actions by the political leaders deny the country honor and dignity. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the law should ensure that such actions attract heavy penalties for the common good of all. The state should structure the laws such that, it tackles hate crimes at the very beginning before they reach a point of affecting the entire society.
To recap, hate crimes are vicious acts sprouting from preconceived motives. During the prosecution of criminal cases, the hate intention should be recognized and looked into from a different perspective given the harm they can cause in the society. Hate crimes are born when some people in society fears for their survival or feels more important than the others and to protect that which they assumes to rightfully belong to them, they resort to acrimonious acts to intimidate the victims of this social thorn.
Enforcing stiffer hate crime laws is one of the strategies that national governments should address to scrap hate crimes. State governments should facilitate this by preparing criminal justice force on diverse and effective ways on investigating offenses and how to efficaciously prosecute such cases coupled with working hand in hand with the victims for the realization of justice.
Moreover, policy makers should heighten precise data aggregation on hate-related crimes irrespective of whether it is a hate crime or not, establish anti-discriminatory body to support victims of hate discrimination, and educate communities on the relationship between law enforcement and community groups.
Subsequently, political instabilities, social degradation, economic slowdown and other adverse effects associated with hate crimes would be maintained if not scraped. In the light of what hate crimes can cause to the society, it is imperative to implement stricter penalties on hate crimes; genocide is not the real problem, it is only a product of unabated hate crimes in society.
Annual Reports 2006, 2007. “Hate Crimes in the OSCE Region: Incidents and Responses.” OSCE/ODIHR, 2007. Web. 8 Mar. 2011.
Federal Bureau of Investigations. Hate crimes, 2007. Web. 8 Mar. 2011.
Gist, Nancy. “Policymaker’s Guide to Hate Crimes.” Bureau of Justice Assistance (1999): 1-77
Levin, Jack, and McDevitt, Jack. Hates Crimes. Cambridge: Da Capo Press, 1993.
Lieberman, Michael. “Punishment to Fit the crime.”Dissent 57.3 (2010): 81-84.
McCain, John. ‘Stricter sensing’ On The Issues, 2000. Web. 8 Mar. 2011
Newton, Phyllis. “Finding Victims of Human Trafficking.” National Opinion Research Centre Journal (2008):1-93
Wellman, Heath. “The case for enhanced penalties of hate crimes.” A Defense of Stiffer Penalties for Hate Crimes 21.2 (2006):64-68.