Belledame222 wrote about the murder of a black gay man who wandered into a dangerous neighborhood. She quoted two conflicting opinions as to whether it was a hate crime:
Man, that's almost getting into the territory I decided not to cover (at least, I think I didn't go there) the other day when I thought about asking if choosing a woman for violence because she belonged to a social category that seems statistically less likely to resist made acts of violence against a particular social category "hate crimes." This kid thought not. On the other hand, there are people who think so:
A teenager who knew the assailants told The New York Times that the attack wasn’t a hate crime against blacks or gays: "They were looking to rob him. They didn’t think he would fight back if he was gay."
But prosecutors in this hate crime case don’t have to prove that the assailants don’t like African Americans or gays, Hynes explained. Prosecutors just have to prove that Sandy was targeted because he was gay or African American. "If you select a member of a class because you think they’re particularly vulnerable—that’s the hate crime."
I don't know! I just...don't...know. Maybe it's a matter of degree--like Dr. B.H. Tatum demonstrated with powerful logic, if you're not fighting against unfair ways that members of "________" social category (not yours), and you're just neutrally taking the benefits you have as a member of your social category, you're still being "_______ist." That's just the way it works. Anything but living in a way that fights the continuation of those unfair advantages is living in an immoral way.
But then again, it might not be immoral & bad enough that it should get you in trouble with the law. I mean, most people would agree that it's okay that there's space for bad actions between saintliness and punishment-on-earth, right? And "get you in trouble with the law" is the reason we have a word like "hate crime," right? Because we expect that punishing people who targeted a social category of victims, rather than targeting victims randomly or based on the fact that they were looking the other way or something, will change violent behavior to a more random state, right? (And the assumption is that once violence is more random, it'll be easier to fight or will somewhat die out because people are reluctant to commit it against people they identify with.)
Or is that the only reason we have "hate crime?" Bob Herbert's article made me think that there's more to it. Just calling a particular method of choosing a target by social category part of "hate crimeyness" can create allies in groups who share a social category with the perpetrator. It can create activists out of people who weren't activists! And activists are the people who make violence go from category-based to random. This is especially true when the perpetrator's category was dominant and the victims' categories were subordinate. Dominant allies change minds. They write newspaper articles and actually get them published in magazines that people're told are good enough to bother reading. They get on TV. Etc.
Sooooooo........where should the line be drawn at calling things "hate crimes" because they were targeted against members of a social category? I mean, if the targeting is based on an inaccurate and damaging (when gay people internalize it & start to become it) stereotype that gay people are weak & polite to a fault, should we use the term "hate crime" to horrify people and get them to start saying, "Y'know what? I'm straight, and gay people are NOT weak & polite to a fault, and how dare you other straight people think that to the point that you'd violate them based on that assumption? Stop it!"
Or is there only so much action that we can squeeze out of people? Can we only get people to say, "Y'know what? I'm straight, and gay people are NOT inferior to us and appropriate for hitting with 2x4s, and how dare you other straight people think that to the point that you'd violate them based on that assumption? Stop it!" but not go so far as the quote I put earlier? I don't know. I just don't know. I really want people to see common links between common themes, but boy is that hard to do, and not wear people out, in less than 200 pages. (That's how many it took Dr. Tatum to develop a good, solid, persuasive book doing so.....)