What is hate crime?
thought I knew. My interpretation was
that it was any criminal act, typically one involving assault, committed
against a person specifically because of their race or ethnic background.
now I’m getting confused, because the list of potential victim groups keeps
growing. It was first extended to gay
people, and then to the trans-gender crowd.
Now added are goths and emos, apparently at the urging of a chief
constable somewhere up north, no doubt anxious to show his credentials as a man
utterly devoid of prejudice.
that may be good news for those who prowl the streets looking for minority
heads to bash in, goths and emos being sufficiently hard to distinguish that
failure to do so would surely form the basis of a robust defence.
Defendant: “Please, sir, I wouldn’t ‘ave ‘it ‘im if I’d
known ‘e was a goff.”
Judge: “For your information, he is not a goth. He is, at least as I understand the precise
definition of the term, an emo.”
Counsel (leaping to his feet): M’Lord’s
confusion is understandable. So,
therefore, must be my client’s. I rest
share the judge’s ignorance. As I
understand it, goths are no more than an updated, more metallic-laden version
of punks, but I’m not really sure. As
for emos, my unpractised eye, reflecting a profound lack of interest, fails to
discern the difference. Do they have an
extra ring in the nose?
what about the punks? Some of them must
still be around, no doubt bravely resisting this invasion of the goths. Why, then, aren’t punks on the hate-crime
list? And, for that matter, their
mortal enemies, the rockers? My bet is
that a few of those are still holding out, perhaps in enclaves such as Scunthorpe
and Merthyr Tydfil.
we’re at it, we might as well include Teddy boys. I actually saw one on the Tube a few weeks
ago, though to be fair he may have been going to a fancy-dress party.
when does my own tribe get on the list?
As Britain’s – and America’s –
non-white, gay, metal-adorned population continues to expand, we white
Anglo-Saxon Protestants, attired in our faded corduroys and holey cardigans,
with not a single metal adornment in sight, surely merit a place.
staked out as victims, too, because we’re bald, or grey, or grumpy, or because
we’re slow crossing the road, or have a large mole on the nose. The perpetrators don’t need copper-bottomed
legal definitions to determine on whom they will inflict pain. Any old excuse will do.
that’s true, then the term ‘hate crime’ becomes devoid of significance. I’m not sure that it ever had much meaning
except as a convenient means to score political kudos. The only distinction between the victim who’s
had his head bashed in because he was from Bangladesh and the one who’s had
his head bashed in because he hails from Bromley is that both are left with
hate may or may not be racially, or similarly, motivated but the essential
point is that some form of hate is inherent in any crime of violence – and what
kind of hate is defined is ultimately neither here not there.