An Introduction to
Hate and Bias Crimes
Nature of these Crimes
She was happy to have found a nice house to rent in
Holiday, Florida. It was in a good family
neighborhood, perfect for her children, who were
nine, six, and four years old. Shortly before they
were to move into the house, however, someone
broke in and scrawled messages on the freshly
painted walls. Among the messages were “KKK”
and “White Power Rules.” Although she was upset,
Williams, who is African American, declared that
she was determined that these acts would not send
her running away (see Samolinksi, 2001).
On September 2, 2002, Trev Broudy was hugging a
friend goodbye on a quiet street in West
Hollywood. Suddenly, two men began attacking
them with a bat and a metal pipe. Broudy was
beaten severely enough that he remained in a coma
for nine days; his friend, who was able to escape
into his parked car, was injured as well. An hour
later in the same neighborhood, another man was
beaten and suffered severe bruising. And a couple
of weeks afterward, a fourth man was also attacked
by two men wielding a bat and a pipe. All the
victims were gay (Edds, 2002). Two men were later
arrested for the beatings.
In January 2001, Kenneth Luker and two friends
drove a backhoe and lawnmower over the grounds
of two Jewish cemeteries in New Jersey, toppling
and damaging numerous headstones. Luker was
subsequently caught and sentenced to prison for
nine months. Four months after being paroled, he
again vandalized the same cemeteries, toppling
forty gravestones and causing tens of thousands of
dollars in damage. This time, he was sentenced for
up to five years.
Books and articles about hate crimes often start
with the stories of Matthew Shepard, the gay
University of Wyoming student who was
murdered in 1998, and James Byrd, Jr., the
black father of three who was dragged to death
behind a pickup truck in Texas that same year.
Horrible as those two cases were, however, they
represent only a tiny fraction of the hate crimes
that occurred in 1998; the stories of the other
victims are rarely heard.
Hate Crimes are Everywhere
Hate crimes happen in small towns and large
cities. They happen in every state: north, south,
east, and west.
They involve everything from simple graffiti to
They may be called hate crimes, bias crimes,
civil rights crimes, or ethnic intimidation.
Hate crimes are crimes committed
because of the race, religion, sexual
orientation, or other group membership
of the victim.
The precise groups that are included in
the definition of hate crime vary from
jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
Increasing Levels of
In recent decades, our society has
witnessed a significant increase in the
occurrence of hate crimes.
One of the main concerns related to this
unforeseen growth of hate crimes is that
the brutality and nature of these crimes
has intensified immensely.
Hate crimes are
Over the past few years, the number of
attacks against people because of their
race, religion, sexual orientation, or
ethnic origin has increased at an
The increase in anti-Semitic violence
in the 1990s is instructive of this trend.
Smith, who went on a
deadly killing spree in the
Midwest that targeted
minorities, is one of the
most recent hate-
whose acts have prompted
federal and local action.
A New Idea
Although bigotry is probably as old as
humanity, the term quot;hate crimequot; is a new one,
as is the idea of special treatment of these
The first hate crime law was passed around
1980, and two decades later, 43 states, the
District of Columbia, and the federal
government had all enacted some form of hate
crime legislation (Anti-Defamation League
The phrase has entered the popular vernacular,
and it is used frequently by the media.
Tracking Hate or Bias Crimes
In 1980 there were a total of 489 reports of
anti-Semitic vandalism, harassment, threats,
and assaults… But…
It is important to note that President George
H.W. Bush signed legislation to have the
FBI collect Hate Crime data through the
Uniform Crime Report in 1990.
In 1991 there were over 1, 879 reports
of anti-Semitic violence.
By 1993, the figure was well over 2,000
More Recent Statistics
The number of Hate Crimes in 2000 were over
By 2001, the figure continued to climb to 9,720.
More recent figures are still being calculated by
the FBI and reported figures for 2002 are
– in the first six months of 2002, the term hate crime
appeared 940 times in major newspapers alone.
A total of 11,987 law enforcement agencies in
49 states and the District of Columbia
collectively reported 9,730 bias-motivated
incidents during 2001.
The majority of these were single-bias
incidents, meaning that all offenses involved in
the incident resulted from the same bias
are those in which two
or more offenses were
committed as a result
of two or more bias
For 2001, participating
agencies reported 9,721
single-bias and 9
Hate Crimes Targeting
In the year 2000, there were 28 hate
crimes against Muslims in the United
One year later in 2001, there were over
500 hate crimes against Muslims!
Clearly 9/11 had an impact…
Trends and Reports
Since most of our figures are based on
individual reports, the Southern Poverty
Law Center claims that the actual
number of hate motivated attacks are
actually much higher.
Not a Separate Crime
Hate crimes are not separate, distinct crimes
but rather traditional offenses motivated by the
It is, therefore, unnecessary for law
enforcement to create a new crime category in
an effort to capture hate crime data.
Hate crime data are collected by capturing
additional information about offenses already
Limitations in the Study
of Hate Crimes
Hate crimes are violent acts against people,
property, or organizations because of the group
to which they belong or identify with.
The beginnings of the study of hate crimes can
only be traced back to the 1990s, so until
recently there has not been a lot of information
on the nature or repercussions of hate crimes.
of a Hate Crime
Hate crime data collected by the FBI include
criminal offenses committed against persons,
property, or society that are motivated, in whole or
in part, by the offender’s bias against a race,
religion, disability, sexual-orientation, or ethnicity/
In addition to the offense classification and bias
identification, a hate crime report provides
information about each hate crime incident
including the type and number of victims, the
location of the incident, the number of suspected
offenders, and the suspected offender’s race.
Recent Debates on Hate
See handouts from the National Gay and
Lesbian Task Force
THE LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT ENHANCEMENT
ACT: THE APPROPRIATE NEXT STEP IN FEDERAL
HATE CRIMES LAW
THE LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT ENHANCEMENT
ACT: AN IMPORTANT STEP IN COMBATING HATE
HATE CRIMES AGAINST GAY, LESBIAN, BISEXUAL,
AND TRANSGENDER AMERICANS
Ohio’s Ethnic Intimidation Law
The Ohio Ethnic Intimidation Law, for example,
– (A) No person shall [commit the crime of aggravated
– criminal damaging or endangering, criminal mischief
or telephone harassment].
– by reason of the race, color, religion, or national origin
of another person or groups of persons.
– (B) Whoever violates
this section is guilty of
ethnic intimidation. Ethnic
intimidation is an offense of the
next higher degree than the
offense the commission of
which is a necessary element of
ethnic intimidation (Ohio Rev.
Code Ann.-- 2927.12).
What is Penalty Enhancement
In 1981 The Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
introduced model hate crime legislation,
which included penalty enhancements (Anti-
Defamation League, 1991). Hate crime laws
utilizing penalty enhancements usually
involve two components.
– The first is a list of predicate offenses, which must
be violated to be eligible for enhancement, e.g., an
– The second is that the victim must have been
selected because of characteristics which match a
– Common protected statuses include race, religion,
nationality, and the particular focus of this paper,
– There are various forms that an enhancement may
take. One option involves upgrading the potential
punishment for an offense one level.
– Protected Status is controversial… who should be
Debates over Protected
During debates in the Kentucky Legislature
in 1998 discussion ranged over ninety
proposed amendments to an Omnibus
Crime Measure, one of which focused on a
hate crime in the bill.
Republican Senator Tim Philpot, a lawyer
from Lexington, who opposed all hate crime
proposals, singled out protecting
individuals based on sexual orientation
because “The real problem of violence in
the gay community is they are hurting each
Practical Example of P.E.
Typically, an individual who commits
telephone harassment, a first degree
misdemeanor in Ohio, could face a
maximum sentence of six months in jail and
a $1,000 fine;
however, if the victim was chosen because
they were Jewish -- a protected status of
ethnicity -- the offender could be punished
according to the sentencing guidelines for
the next highest level of offenses and thus
faces a sentence ranging from 18 months to
five years and a fine of up to $2,500.
Other options for
may include a more
such as doubling
(Vermont) or tripling
(Florida) the potential
What is a Hate Crime?
Although hate crime is not a specific
form of crime; hate crimes are unique.
Hate crimes are different.
Recent research strongly suggests that
hate crimes reported to the police have
certain characteristics that distinguish
them from other types of criminal
Characteristics of Hate Crimes
1. Severity of attack--most hate crimes are
Nature of attack--hatred is illustrated when
force is exercised beyond what may be
necessary to subdue victims, make them
comply, disarm them, or take goods from
them. 3/4 of all hate crime attacks involve
some physical injury.
Warning the next slide is
It is alright to avert your eyes…
Hate Crimes are Vicious
I show you that slide to demonstrate the
anger and hostility that accompany
violent hate assaults
Characteristics of Hate Crimes II
Randomness--hate crimes appear to be
irrational crimes perpetuated at random on
total strangers (85% of HC are committed by
strangers) victims rarely provoke their
Perpetuated by multiple offenders--unlike
most violent crimes, hate crimes are usually
committed by groups of people.
Dunbar Study 1996
Statistics gathered in a study conducted at the
University of California in 1996 by Dr. Edward
Dunbar concluded that:
• 30% of hate crimes are committed against property
(robbing, destroying, stealing, vandalizing, burning)
• while 70% of hate crimes are committed against an
Why we call them ‘Hate’
These attacks on individuals have raises serious
issues because these attacks leave not only physical
scars, but emotional ones as well, disrupting the
victim’s entire identity.
Studies have also shown that most hate crimes are
carried out by members of society who normally
obey laws, and who see little wrong with their
USA is Not Alone
How widespread is hatred and bias? Here are a few events featured in world news
Australia has raided several homes in hopes of finding the radical Muslims
responsible for a deadly bombing in Bali.
Canada has warned Canadian citizens who were born in the Middle-East to use
caution when traveling to the U.S., in case they are persecuted under new U.S. anti-
Explosions erupted in Soweto, South Africa, apparently caused by a right-wing
group attempting to destabilize the government.
Two Islamic militants were sentenced to life in prison in France for their role in
1995 subway bombings.
Leader of the Chechen rebellion was arrested in Denmark on charges he helped plan
a siege of a theater in Moscow in which 119 hostages died.
More International Examples
The Irish Republican Army broke off negotiations with an
international body charged with attempting disarmament in Northern
An Israeli coalition government collapsed, endangering the
possibility of peace talks with the Palestinians.
White farmers who were evicted from their farms in Zimbabwe have
been forbidden to take their farm equipment with them as they
attempt to relocate to Zambia.
Debate continues in Nigeria over whether a woman convicted of
having sex outside of marriage will be stoned to death.
The U.S. is not an Island
In the 1990’s, at approximately the same time
as the United States was experiencing an
increase in hate group membership and in
political conservatism in general, a parallel
movement was occurring in Europe.
In both areas, nationalism increased
dramatically, and the radical right gained new
Internationally and in
the United States, levels
and patterns of
immigration are tied to
the rise of Hate and Bias
See Handout for some
Hate Crime Legislation
RAV V. St. Paul
Debates in the courts
RAV v. St. Paul
Seventeen-year-old Robert Anthony Viktora, who
was white, burned a cross on a black family’s front
He was charged with a variety of offenses, but in
1992 (in R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul) the Supreme
Court found one of his convictions to be a violation
of the first amendment.
Mitchell v. Wisconsin
Nineteen-year-old Todd Mitchell, who was black,
urged his friends to “go get” a fourteen-year-old
white boy who happened to be walking by.
The friends beat the boy badly enough to put him in
a coma. Mitchell also faced a variety of charges,
but this time, only a year after Viktora’s case, the
Supreme Court upheld those convictions
(Wisconsin v. Mitchell, 1993).
What’s the Difference?
What distinguished Viktora’s case from Mitchell’s?
The former involved hate speech, whereas the
latter involved hate crime.
These terms are often used interchangeably by lay
people and the media, and the distinction may seem
In reality, however, hate crime and hate speech are
very different from legal, policy, and
Thin Line between Words &
Certainly, the outcomes
were very different for
these two young men.
The line between hate
speech and hate crime
may sometimes be very
thin, however, such as
when people make
general threats against
One of the most problematic aspects of hate
crimes is that they are the only crime that
requires proof of the offender’s motive.
This creates difficulties from the practical side:
Because the legal system does not employ
psychics, it is hard to determine what was going
through a defendant’s mind.
It also creates legal difficulties. One of the
strongest arguments against hate crime laws is
that they create thought crimes.
Should we call them “Hate
White racial extremist movements
represent arrays of groups, organizations,
and individuals that utilize various
means to suppress and oppress different
people, groups, and organizations on the
basis of race, ethnicity, political views,
sexual orientation, as well as other
reasons (i.e., disagreement).
All semester we have wondered how many
people are in these organizations.
According to various sources there are 10,000
to 20,000 members of hate movements.
One strategist for a well known white racial
extremist argued that for every hard core
supporter there are 10 passive supporters.
How Big? Indeed.
Former senator Bayh stated that quot;the
reason hate groups have enjoyed
of a revival beginning in the 1980s is
because Americans are not aware of
or their activities.quot;
Fighting Hate Crimes
This past electoral season I received a copy of a voter’s
pamphlet. Included within it were brief statements of
each party’s platform, and I was surprised, and
somewhat amused, to see that one party’s statement of
purpose included eradicating hate crimes.
Like the other position statements—those supporting
quality public education, good healthcare, and a strong
economy—this one makes good campaign fodder. After
all, how many voters are going to oppose it? What
seems absent, however, is any realistic plan for achieving
What will solve the Problem?
As you have probably concluded by now, hate
crimes legislation alone has not and will not
eliminate hate crimes.
In fact, human nature being as it is, it is
extremely unlikely that hate crimes can be
But this does not mean that we do nothing…
All is not gloom, however. Prejudice and
bias-motivated violence can be reduced.
There is scant evidence that such
reduction can be attained through hate
crimes laws, but those laws are not the
only method of fighting hate.
If we learn to hate…
“No baby is born with prejudices against other
people.” Each of us learned our biases from
family, friends, teachers, and society at large.
An optimistic corollary to this is that if
prejudice can be taught, so can tolerance.
Several decades of psychological research has
investigated the ways in which tolerance can be
encouraged and prejudice reduced.
Allport’s Contact Hypothesis
Allport was writing as racial segregation was
both legal and the norm in the United States.
He theorized that intergroup hostility could be
decreased if groups were brought into contact
with one another.
– Simply throwing them together, however, would not be
sufficient; in fact, there was some evidence to indicate
that prejudice between blacks and whites was greater
when the two groups lived in closer proximity to one
Sherif’s Study (1961)
Robber’s Cave Experiment
– In this experiment, Sherif and colleagues
created intense intergroup antagonism
among previously-friendly boys who were
attending a summer camp.
– Bringing the boys together for enjoyable,
non-competitive activities such as a
fireworks display not only did not decrease
tensions, but actually increased rivalry.
In the Robber’s Cave
The experimenters arranged for two serious
emergencies to occur (a stuck bus and a broken
– The camp counselors then encouraged the rival groups of
boys to work together to overcome these emergencies.
– The boys did so, and hostilities between the groups were
Brown gives a real-life example of the Contact
Hypothesis at work.
– In 1993, a huge earthquake occurred in central
– Tens of thousands of people died, and many more
people needed to be rescued.
– In the face of this enormous disaster, Hindus and
Muslims overcame their mutual animosity and
labored together to save their neighbors.
Aronson and colleagues (1978) also made use of
the Contact Hypothesis in an experiment they
entitled the Jigsaw Classroom.
Schoolchildren in a recently desegregated
school in Texas were placed into small, racially
– Each member of the group was given a unique set of
information (akin to a single piece of a puzzle), and
the students were told they would all be tested on all
of the information at the end.
Jigsaw Study Handout
Take a look at the
Here is how Aronson
and his colleagues
organized the study
Meaningful Contact Matters
Therefore, in order for students to do well on the test,
they had to rely on their classmates. The researchers
found that children in the experiment gradually
learned to work cooperatively.
– They also grew to like one another more and had
– Minority group children’s grades improved as well.
My Experience with
the Contact Thesis
Recently I attended a conference on diversity.
One of the speakers there, who was African
American, talked about a sudden change in the
race relations climate.
She said that in the previous month, she had
noticed that white strangers who might
previously have been hostile or at least
indifferent to her because of her race were
suddenly quite friendly.
One man on an airplane gave an indication of
the reasons for this when he made a comment
to her about the need for “we Americans” to
The borders between black and white were no
longer important, but had been replaced by the
categories of American and non-American.
Of course, this is not to say prejudice had
miraculously disappeared after 9/11. This
woman’s experiences would likely have been
radically different if she had appeared to be
Muslim or Arab.
American History X
Have you seen American History X?
– Meaningful Contact changed the course of
one racist’s history even given his family
– Let’s watch…
What do we learn from
Hate crime legislation then, could conceivably
reduce biased beliefs by first reducing biased
– The problem with this proposition is that there is no
evidence that these laws actually do reduce biased
actions, and therefore they are unlikely to affect
– As Allport (1954, p. 470) pointed out, there is a big
difference between a law on the books and a law in
Another way to try to change attitudes is
through changing perceived cultural norms.
– This could be done by using mass media. The largest
historical surge in Klan membership was spurred in
part by the media, specifically the film Birth of a
– But it is now nearly a century later, and we are
surrounded by persuasive messages to a much
greater extent than before.
– Amidst the daily barrage of propaganda about
everything from war to toothpaste, how much
attention will we pay to messages promoting
Hate and Bias Crimes
have been run on
Take a look at the list
on the handout
No One Likes to Be “Lectured”
Winkel (1997) briefly reviewed the literature on
reducing prejudice through propaganda
campaigns, and concluded that:
– Sometimes these campaigns are successful,
– Sometimes they are not,
– And sometimes they are even counterproductive.
Not Everyone Supports
Legislative Hate Crime Efforts
Some politically conservative
and religious groups consider
hate crime legislation to be
more about preventing speech
than preventing crimes