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The Epidemic Of Hate Crimes In America

3664 words - 15 pages

Within the last 10 years, hate crimes based upon sexual orientation have increased by 30% percent, around 1300 crimes per year, with many more incidents around the United States unreported. Hate crime must be defined by Federal statute and the government afforded the power to enforce sanctions against violators to insure the safety of the American public. Hate crime and hate speech thrive within our country, and can go unnoticed due to insufficient coverage from the media and lack of public interest. Hate continues to ravage our cities everywhere, even in our own backyard. In 2010 alone, there were nearly 10 hate crimes in New Bern, North Carolina, the majority of them violent in nature. In order to ensure the safety of all citizens, hate crime must be defined by federal law. Until then, America’s racists and psychopaths will continue to harm our communities.
According to the FBI, a hate crime is “a traditional offense like murder, arson or vandalism with an added element of bias…” (FBI 1) Another possible definition for a hate crime from the Anti Defamation League is “a criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.” Even though there is a definition from the FBI, hate crimes merit no federal classification, and are left up to local governance branches to deliberate. To make matters worse, out of three levels of hate crime, two levels merit attention from a higher court, while the last garners statistic collection and local adjudication. This is owing to the first two categories being classified as violent or extremely malicious, while the third is usually a nonviolent or minor offense. Another category, verbal hate, is not considered a hate crime, as the First Amendment protects it under freedom of speech. (FBI 1)
There are two definitions of hate speech. Within the FBI, it is classified as “any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group.” (FBI 2) According to nonprofits and those not involved with the government, it is defined as “a communication that vilifies a person or a group based on discrimination against that person or group.” (FBI 2) Hate speech, though prohibited by local law, is not prohibited federally. It remains undefined, and tends to divide senators owing to interpretation of the first amendment. Local governments enact laws to regulate when and where hate speech can take place. For example, on a few college campuses there is a free speech zone in which students are allowed to express how they. Because of protests from the students and surrounding communities, some have abandoned this activity completely. As hate speech continues to thrive in specific areas, people who share similar...

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