December 04, 2008

Those 'ol "hate crimes" again

I've written about them so often I've lost track. (Feel free to search the Colossus archives on the topic -- search bar is at right.) I argue that the biggest joke about them is how they're so selectively enforced. For instance, an attack whereby, say, a white guy has his wallet taken by a black guy won't be dubbed a "hate crime" even if the epithet "cracker" was uttered at him because the motivation behind the crime was "economic," not "racial." This is a distinction with which I actually have little quibble; however, when a reverse situation occurs, the invocation of "hate crime" is more common. But on the whole in the US, mere verbal slurs by themselves and even those uttered during non-bias crimes [usually] aren't dubbed "hate crimes."

But now the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee has come out and essentially endorsed the notion that the mere utterance of a racial epithet should be a "hate crime" (and a "violent" one at that):

Hate crimes against Arab Americans have decreased steadily since the September 11 attacks but are still more common than they were before the hijackings, a civil rights group said on Thursday.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee said it received an average of 120 to 130 reports of ethnically motivated attacks or threats each year between 2003 and 2007, a sharp decrease from the 700 violent incidents (An ethnic threat is a VIOLENT act? -- Hube) it documented in the weeks following the 2001 attacks.

But that figure is still higher than the 80 to 90 reports it received in the late 1990s, the civil rights group said.

Incidents tended to increase after other terrorist attacks, such as the 2005 London subway bombings, the group said. Many incidents did not begin with a clear motivation of bias, but assailants would use racial or ethnic slurs as the situation intensified, the group said.

Got that? Even though "many incidents did not begin with a clear motivation of bias," since eventually a racial or ethnic slur was uttered, voilà -- instant hate crime, according to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Utilizing this "definition," my example from above has to be a "hate crime": The initial motivation may be economic, but if a racial epithet is spewed in the process of the mugging, it's now [also] a "hate crime."

(h/t to Warner Todd Huston.)

UPDATE: How predictable. I am a "racist" for making this post.

UPDATE 2: At the link above, one semi-rational "progressive" (LiberalGeek) criticizes me for not delving into the "realm of possibility." He wonders why I didn't ponder if, say, a guy breaks into a house and, upon realizing the ethnicity of the home's owners, shoots the family merely because of that. Is that a "hate crime?"

Well, duh. That's quite a far cry from what I addressed based on the original ARTICLE. (Now I have to conceive of every possible angle, apparently, to "justify" my non-racism, y'see.) As I noted in the comments there, I actually have come to see some rationale for hate crimes since pretty much every crime has a severity "test" based on motivation. I don't see why hate crimes couldn't be added into that equation. But in this article, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee makes the case that a mere racial/ethnic epithet -- even in the commission of a petty crime (or even a general scuffle) whose initial motivation was NOT racially/ethnically based -- should be a hate crime. I think this is plain silly. If a white man and a black man happen to get into an argument on, say, a bus over a seat or something, and in the course of the argument one (or both) utter a racial epithet, should there be a prosecution of a "hate crime?" Merely because two men were angry and upset? For me that is the proverbial "slippery slope" territory and the beginning of thoughts becoming crimes.

Posted by Hube at December 4, 2008 07:01 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

For what it's worth - though sometimes I think you're a jackass, you certainly don't strike me as a racist.

Posted by: JohnnyX at December 5, 2008 12:03 PM

Thanks, Johnny. I think.

Ditto, BTW. ;-)

Posted by: Hube at December 5, 2008 12:06 PM


I'm pretty certain that discussions of hate crimes is what first made me pay attention to you back at the Cube.

Complaining of Islamophobia is, of course, a red herring. CAIR was a lot more emphatic in condemning the Holy Land Foundation verdict as the result of Islamophobia than it was in condemning Mumbai terrorists.

You make an important point that shouting "raghead" might, by itself, constitute a hate crime - even if no other trespass was evident. But even with that, the 700 anti-Islam incidents is almost certainly an exagerration as it is out of line with the numbers counted by the FBI.

One final thing: There are roughly 6 times as many antisemitic incidents as counted by the FBI as anti-Islamic incidents. Yet that never seems to get reported.

Posted by: soccer dad at December 5, 2008 02:35 PM

You're absolutely right, SD (regarding antisemitic incidents). And my point, as you note, was that the AAADC has determined that mere epithets constitute "hate crimes" -- even if uttered in a confrontation that otherwise initially had nothing to do whatsoever with race/ethnicity!

Unbelievably (well, not really considering their intellectual level), nemski of Delaware Lunacy calls me "racist" by 1) claiming I omitted a part of the AAADC report that I clearly included in my post, and 2) outright and deliberately ignoring the precise thrust of the post.

Even when I pointed this out exactly over in the comments there, nemski's reply was -- no lie -- "blah, blah, blah" and then "you're a racist."

And they think I'm "mean" when I refer to them as "dumb!"

Posted by: Hube at December 5, 2008 03:30 PM

It sounds to me that the Islamic groups are trying the same stunts here that they are in Britian. I don't think they are going to find us as gullible in the name of peaceful relations.

Posted by: ShadowWing Tronix at December 5, 2008 08:44 PM

And nemski's conduct at DL explains why I no longer comment there and am considering dropping my link to the site.

Posted by: steve Newton at December 5, 2008 10:22 PM

I tried to warn 'ya Steve ...! ;-)

Posted by: Hube at December 6, 2008 10:23 AM

Here is a copy of what I just posted at the Delaware Liberal blog.

A racist: Someone who assumes that a person has certain traits just because the person in question has a given racial background. Examples: If you assume that someone who is white must be rich, or assume that someone who is of Asian ancestry must be good at math and bad at English, or assume that someone who is black must be a good basketball player.

A “hate crime”, conventional definition:
When a crime is committed because the victim is of a certain race, sexual orientation, or gender, such that the attacker feels the crime is “justified” due to wrongs committed by the victim’s group or due to the victim’s inherently “rich” or “sinful” or “ignorant” status. Basically, someone sees a person, judges that person based upon his ethnicity / sexual orientation / religion / gender, and comes to the conclusion that it is “okay” or even “correct” to commit a crime against that person.

Examples: Throwing bricks into the windows of someone’s house in order to say “we don’t want any [insert racial, gender, sexual orientation, or religion-based epithet here] in this neighborhood.”

Beating up or raping a person because they belong to a particlular group.

New definition of “hate crime”: If, during a crime, insults are exchanged which imply that one of the parties may be a racist person (or otherwise -ist, such as sexist), then that party may be charged with a hate crime.

Example: A man tries to grab a woman’s purse and nearly gets away with it, but she pulls her purse back at the last minute. In his anger, he calls her a “bitch” and a “ho”.

Two girls at a high school get into a fight over a boy they both fancy. One girl is black, the other is Hispanic. After nearly twenty seconds of exchanging words and blows, the black girl calls the Hispanic girl a “Mexican bitch.”

I believe the controvery, where it exists, focuses on three main areas. First, some ask, “Why should we expand the definition when the current working definition already covers the worst offenders?” Second, others ask, “Isn’t this new definition likely to mistakenly classify many more crimes as ‘hateful’ when racism may not actually have been a factor in the original conflict?” Third, many wonder, “Is this new classification likely to skew the numbers of racist and hate-motivated crimes?”

I submit under the name “Tired of Idiocy” because both parties are acting like very small children here. Hube at Colossus appears to have overgeneralized; he has assumed that prosecutors are likely to apply the “hate crime” label to altercations in which both parties were using the worst “bad names” they can think of, some of which are racial in nature. Meanwhile, Nemsky has fallen for the fallacy of “If someone overgeneralizes when writing about a race-related matter, then that person was subconsciously motivated by racism rather than human error.”

Neither of these are childlike. The fight afterwards is childlike. You’ve seen two dogs trying to fight through a fence? That’s a pretty good metaphor for this post and the subsequent commentary. What’s amusing is the disconnect between this and reality. Most people who trade insults online are quite polite in reality, and I see no reason not to assume that this is true of both Nemski and Hube.

Disclaimer: I do not regularly read either the Deleware Liberal blog nor the Colossus of Rhodey blog and have no particular reason to favor one writer over the other. I do, however, find it amusing that the first time I come here, I get to see two grown folks acting immature. Hopefully this is unusual. If it isn’t, well . . . I likely won’t return.

Posted by: Tired of Idiocy at December 10, 2008 03:36 PM

Sorry, but you're way off-base here. I didn't overgeneralize at all. All I did was pontificate on how the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee had "defined" hate crime, or, at least what it should be, and how idiotic it is. (I've written on hate crimes more times than I can count.) nemski over at DL decides that my post alone means I am a racist. Period. There was NO attempt at discussion (here), just a post at DL blatantly calling me a racist. Again, period.

When I logically and unemotionally point out what I ACTUALLY wrote here, what is nemski's reply? "Blah blah blah."

I'm sorry, but you're WAY obviously engaging in some sort of "moral equivalency" here when it's not even close. If you spend even a little time over at DL, you'd see that they are really a bunch of overly rabid partisans who have expressed at various times 1) All Republicans should be rounded up and shot, and 2) All Republicans are evil. Now we see nemski stating that anyone who questions the idiocy of a "new" definition of hate crime is a "racist." The DLers have pissed off people in the DE blogosphere from the right, middle AND LEFT with their childish antics and tantrums. For you to in any way equate what I wrote with what nemski wrote and then to call ME "childish" is, simply, beyond ridiculous. (Admittedly, some of my comments after my attempted [further] explanation of my post over at DL got silly; what do you expect based on the response[s] to my explanation?)

If you cannot see the plain-as-day difference between my post and nemski's, not to mention the tone and quality of this blog vs. DL, then please -- don't return. We don't care for your readership.

Posted by: Hube at December 10, 2008 06:15 PM

When liberals call someone a racist, nearly always what they are doing is merely trying to silence through intimidation those they disagree with. In other words, they are behaving like thugs.

Posted by: pst314 at December 11, 2008 01:39 PM

I'm not trying to rile you. There is such a thing as tact, after all. I have a report to write on radiation hormesis and am mildly pressed for time, so I decided to post the same comment here and at DL's site. As a result, given that he had the more immature response, my comment is skewed a bit to being less irritating for him to read.

Sir, this is also why I stated in my post that I am not very familiar with either your site or the other fellow's. You do seem to have the more well-reasoned site - but I haven't seen much of either site. Perhaps DL was simply having an unusually bad day. Maybe it's her time of the month. Or maybe she is simply immature. *shrug* I wouldn't know.

I do not think I was very far off in saying that you overgeneralized in this post. (Wait, don't get annoyed; hear me out, I'm not trying to be an arse here, and I don't have experience with your previous posts to fill the gaps in this one.)

The reason is that the Yahoo! News article does not give numbers for us to analyse. There are probably a fair number of fights that are racially motivated, but where it isn't obvious until late into the fight. Example: One man punches another fairly suddenly, not speaking; only after the other man has started to defend himself does the attacker start to use racial epithets.

This situation is, of course, very different from a fight in which insults of various kinds are used and it isn't at all clear that the participants are using the "racist" insults for any other reason than to annoy the other guy a little more.

Yahoo! News doesn't tell us how many of the incidents fit into each category. So it could be (though I find it unlikely) that 99% of the reported incidents were of the first kind, where it really was racially motivated but this wasn't obvious until later. I'd guess that the numbers might be more like 50-50. But Yahoo! doesn't tell us.

So you "overgeneralize" in that you assume a large number of the reported incidents are cases where there wasn't any racist motivation at all and the insults got out of hand. This isn't necessarily wrong. I'm just saying that we don't have the data to back this up because A) no numbers are given, and B) the line "Many incidents did not begin with a clear motivation of bias, but assailants would use racial or ethnic slurs as the situation intensified" could refer either to someone who didn't use racist remarks until several seconds into an attack or to someone who is innocent of racial motivation entirely but used a racist swear in front of witnesses.

This also doesn't stop your post from being very on the mark in other ways.

Posted by: Tired at December 11, 2008 02:14 PM

The police need to launch a hate-crime investigation against George W. Bush.

On balance, George W. Bush is a hate-crime criminal.


Submitted by Andrew Yu-Jen Wang
B.S., Summa Cum Laude, 1996
Messiah College, Grantham, PA
Lower Merion High School, Ardmore, PA, 1993

Posted by: Andrew Yu-Jen Wang at February 11, 2009 02:03 AM

Wow! It actually took a Summa Cum Laude to write something as ridiculously silly as THAT??

Just goes to show you how useless the modern college degree is.

Posted by: Hube at February 11, 2009 11:35 AM

It takes a special kind of genius to be really stupid.

Posted by: Paul Smith Jr at February 11, 2009 07:39 PM