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Defining Hate Crimes: Real or Imagined


 By: Maddie Jomolca

The topic of  “hate crimes” has slowly yet surely become one of great divisiveness and affliction across the globe, primarily because that which might be a defined as a hate crime or human rights issue to one individual, culture or community may be a moral issue to another set of individuals. This commonality does, in fact, make it more difficult to determine and/or “profile” the motives for such crimes, and those who commit them.

Let’s begin by first dissecting (or attempt to) define the term “hate crime”. A hate crime is considered a crime motivated by racial, sexual, or other prejudice, typically, those involving violence and acts of violence such as physical assault, lynchings, vandalizing property, shootings, and so on.  However, while the freedom of speech is protected by the United States Constitution and is not a hate crime, speech that carries a credible threat of violence against an individual or group of people is criminal… and this is, precisely where it gets “tricky”, as we’ve all witnessed first-hand how the mere expression of one’s opinion on any of the above-named groups, both verbally and written can and has been considered a “hate crime” in today’s society.  For example: Is the topic of ‘gay rights” a moral or a human rights issue? Well, evidently, it is both, for not only were we (man and woman) created with distinguished counter-parts (in case no one’s noticed!) for the purpose of reproducing, but it is also boldly suggested that marriage is and should remain between an man and a woman, yet today’s society has selectively decided to take one and leave the other .  Yet, ironically, when Christians and other faith-based groups are  faced with a morally-driven decision, to stand for their beliefs, they are inherently attacked and labeled ‘haters” . Should these attacks not also be condemned as a “hate crime”?                                                                                                                                                 (Harvey, 2013)

As such, many folks have come to deduce the term (specifically where the topic of homo-sexuality is concerned) to nothing more than the liberals’ political effort to infuse more of their agenda and create separatism rather than unity, whilst willingly deviating from the laws set forth in this country’s Constitution.  This, the term, subsequently, and evidently, in most cases, has been taken out of context and misused within today’s society primarily by minority groups on the premise of gaining leverage over any opposition.

In 1993, Jack Levin and Jack McDevitt, of Northeastern University, broke down and created a glossary of some of the hate crimes and motives as follows: “Defensive – aimed at “outsiders’ who appear to pose a threat to a community; Ethno-violence – contain an element of prejudice; Mission – committed as an act of war; Modern Racism– institutionalized form of bigotry based on race; and Retaliatory– hate offenses with the intension of ‘getting even” for other hate crimes or terrorism.”                                                                                                                                                                             (Academic Press, 2008)


Moreover, in an NCJRS  ( National Criminal Justice Reference Service) Report, Levine and McDevitt also noted that based on police interviews and interactions with hate crime offenders, that many of the “offenders who commit their crimes for the excitement or the thrill, offenders who view themselves as defending their turf, and a small group of offenders whose life’s mission is to rid the world of groups they consider evil or inferior.”                                          ( McDevitt, Levin, & Bennett 2002)

However, while some, of these crimes are evidently carried out by what can only be defined as irresponsible thrill-seekers, statics and other studies show that the common denominator is clearly that of learned behavior, and these common household teachings can either help to blanket our communities with a sense of compassion for one another, or by contrast, obscure and paralyze it with a sense of terror and bias. It is ones initial and immediate perception of the world and the people in it that will later define their actions (or lack thereof) throughout their lives, and thus, it has become increasingly important that parents not pass on their own sense prejudice’s and transgressions on to their children, but instead learn to love who they, as they are, so that, in turn they/we can extend that to our youth for generations to come.

In the end, no person or group of persons. despite. or in spite of their sexual/gender orientation, race, or religion should ever come under attack for their distinctions. If you or someone you know are a victim of such violence or potential violence acts, we encourage you to report it and find a local support group.


Madeleine “Maddie” Jomolca

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Harvey, L. (2013). [Web log message]. Retrieved from

McDewitt, J., Levin, J., & Bennett, S. (2002). Hate crimes offenders: An expanded typology. NCJRS, 58(2), 303-317. doi:



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