Hate Violence and Hate Crimes
by Uzma Mazhar
Hate violence is any
act of intimidation, harassment, physical force or threat of physical force
directed against any person, or family, or their property or advocate, motivated
either in whole or in part by hostility to their real or perceived race, ethnic
background, religious belief, sex, age, disability, or sexual orientation, with
the intention of causing fear or intimidation, or to deter the free exercise
or enjoyment of any rights or privileges secured by the law.
hate violence is punishable under a criminal statute it is a hate crime.
At its most fundamental level, hate violence is
an aggressive expression of hatred against another person or group of people
simply because of who and what they are.
But an act does not have to be criminal to be an act of hate; the use
of an epithet with the intent to cause fear is an expression of hate regardless
of whether or not it is a crime.
There are many excuses and explanations of hate violence, but in the end the
root cause is fear. This
fear is mostly due to ignorance: fear of the unknown, fear of the "other,"
fear of perceived enemies. These fears have the potential to generate violence
in situations of perceived threat.
In comparing ourselves to others, we tend to label
others as good if they have similar attributes and react positively to them.
Some we label as "bad" and react negatively.
In times of insecurity and fear, it
does not take much for a stressed person to think "that person is bad because
they are different from me" and "those people caused all my problems,
and I'm going to do something about it" looking for a scapegoat.
young people value the opinions of their peers highly.
Many young people who become involved in hate violence do so because
their friends were doing it or because they wanted to belong to a group -- any
Joining a racist gang -- or any other gang -- fulfills the need to belong.
Lack of positive direction and role models, untamed emotions, limited depth of
experience and understanding, a sense of invincibility and rebelliousness are
some factors that make the situation worse.
are very influential in shaping a young person's mind and attitudes. Lack
of parental guidance, lack of love and forgivingness toward each other, lack
of tolerance and patience toward family members, lack of selflessness in family
life eventually plays out in the social context. Just like charity begins
at home, hate and prejudice begins at home. If one has grown up in a cruel,
harsh and critical environment they expect that from the world and defensively
lash out... hitting before they get hurt.
Communities and nations act extremely irresponsibly
by not taking action to ensure justice. All adults are responsible for
their actions. We cannot afford to ignore the impact of our own actions
on others. We cannot continue to make excuses for our own selfishness
and greed. Every single individual, every business and every organization
has at some time or the other stopped taking responsibility for their own actions,
they have chosen to overlook the well being of others for their own benefit.
The media plays a key role in shaping attitudes
among young people. The portrayals of various types of people on the programs they
watch inevitably shapes their attitudes about those groups.
Political and religious leaders around the world
fan the flames of bigotry in order to advance their own interests and careers.
They instigate fear and insecurity, using the general populace as pawns, with
very little regard to the impact this hatred has in the long run. They
actively are teaching hatred and intolerance.
And of course none
of us are willing to see further than our own nose... deep down we know what
we are doing and we continue avoiding because we can't tolerate seeing our own
When addressing hate violence we cannot afford
to focus our efforts on responding directly to specific sources of negative
messages. To eradicate this problem we need
to educate ourselves, our communities, nation and world. We have
to focus most of our efforts on the broader goal of inoculating the next generation
so that they can reject those who try to infect them with hatred for others.
[reproduced with permission from www.crescentlife.com]
Date/Time Last Modified: 6/18/2002 8:07:57 AM
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