Hate crimes, also referred to as bias-motivated crimes, are any violent or felony crime on the basis of prejudice against a given group. Hate crimes are the most expression of prejudice. Hate crimes have a broader impact on the affected communities and victims as they affect a foundation feature of identity. For instance, on 14th November 2008, Marcelo Lucero, a 37-year-old immigrant was stabbed in the chest in what the authorities termed as a racially motivated attack by seven Long Island teenagers; most of them white (New York Times). Nassau police reported 35 similar incidents in 2008, while Suffolk authorities reported 23. The majority of those cases were race-based. Today, we can give hundreds of examples of hate-crimes just in Long Island. What fuels hate-crimes?
Hate crime is a form of deviance, which is a recognized violation of cultural norms (Macionis, p 172). In a sociologist’s point of view, deviance means two things: it is the violation of particular norms in the society or violation of norms of a particular group in the society. Deviance is anything that’s likely to generate a negative or punishing response. Being a Homosexual, single, criminal, drug addict, or a street person is a form of deviance. Some of the violent behaviors result to hate crimes. A hate crime is a hostility of an offence directed against the victim based on his/ her race, origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or disability state.
From social-conflict approach, the origin for hate crimes is a deviant behavior that results from social inequality. Norms, including laws, are a reflection of the interests of powerful members of a society. People with little power are at risk of being labeled deviant (Macionis, p185). We can ask ourselves; what causes hate crimes? Though the roots of hate crimes are wide, fear is the major cause of hate violence. Such fear is most often entrenched in ignorance. There is fear of the unknown, fear of the “other,” and the fear of perceived competitors. All of these hold the latent to produce a violent reaction under some circumstances.
Many theories explain how anger engenders and fuels hate crimes in a society:
One of the probable motives of getting involved in a hate crime is having a negative attitude towards a non-heterosexual manners and communities.
Peer dynamics can be a reason of one committing a hate crime against, for example, gay men. Peer dynamics can be explained by a situation where a man becomes aggressive towards people of color in order to prove his toughness to his friends.
This can also be a reason for one to take part in a hate crime. However, this is regularly a causative motive to either peer dynamics or sexual prejudice. Thrill-seeking can be explained by a situation where a person of different race and ethnicity simply out of boredom. According to Parrott and Peterson those who show hostility towards other individuals, pick people of different color and ethnicity as their victims because “they are easy targets” (Macionis, 2004). Violent crimes motivated by hate or anything else, maybe universally abusive deviance. There are vast differences between hate crimes from one society to another in both number and type of violence committed (The Way We Live). However, the US has a higher rate of hate crimes than other developing countries.