Previous studies into the cause of hate crime offending have for the most part been cross-sectional in nature, emphasizing ecological factors associated with higher rates of offending. Lyons’ (2007) study into Chicago neighbourhoods along with Green et al.’s (1998) investigation into communities in New York argued persuasively that demographic change in an area, usually an influx of immigrants or an ethnic minority, is a crucial explanatory factor when investigating why certain regions experience more hate crimes than others. These studies are remarkably consistent in their findings; suggesting that many hate crimes result from group concerns, usually amongst a minority, about minority group ...view middle of the document...
An anecdotal example of this comes from a subject in Pinderhughes’ (1993) research on prejudice that informed researchers: “My father told me that [as a result of the new black mayor] they are going to fire all the white construction workers in the city and hire all black guys” (p. 489). Abrupt and drastic change in society can be perceived by a majority grouping as adversely affecting them. This can incite emotions of anger and perhaps calls for revenge (King, Deloughery and Asal, 2012).
Secondly, works on hate crime offending suggest that many hate crimes are prompted by an antecedent event, such as a terror attack (McDevitt, Levin, & Bennett, 2002) and hence are a form of retaliation. This proposition fits with two theoretical approaches that form the bulk of the present research on hate crimes namely, Black’s (1983) theory of crime as social control and Lickel et al.’s (2006) discussion of vicarious retribution.
Black’s (1983) theory of crime as social control posited that many criminal offenses were forms of “self help” defined as “the expression of a grievance by unilateral aggression such as personal violence or property destruction” (p. 34). Black depicted many crimes as fulfilling a desire for justice, particularly among those who cannot turn easily to law enforcement agencies, an example being a drug dealer whose supply was stolen. They may “take the law into their own hands” as it was to ensure that justice in some form is met. A salient proposition extending from Black’s work is the idea that parts of a population will rely on crime to vent a grievance when the law is less accessible to them. A small proportion of the population is willing to “take the law into their own hands” to achieve a sense of justice or otherwise attain a feeling of catharsis. Relative to this paper, members of groups may crave retaliation in the wake of a domestic terrorist attack. Although in some cases such as the suicide attacks in New York, the perpetrators cannot be punished, legally or otherwise. Suicide attacks are particularly important as the number of suicide attacks grew significantly in the past two decades, from an average of less than five a year in the 1980s to 180 a year in 2001-2005 (The Moral Logic and Growth of Suicide Terrorism figure 2, p.129). This scenario is minimally discussed in work following Black’s theory, although theory and research of a more psychological bent offers a related concept for thinking about reactions to terrorist attacks—vicarious retribution.
In their work on intergroup aggression, Lickel et al. (2006) highlighted the role of vicarious retribution, a form of aggression that transpires when
“A member of a group commits an act of aggression toward members of an out-group for an assault or provocation that had no personal consequences for him or her, but did harm a fellow in-group member” (Lickel et al., 2006, p. 372-373).
Such behavior is retributive as it expresses a grievance for a perceived wrong. It is...