A hate crime occurs when perpetrators target members of a certain race or social group and inflict emotional or psychological harm through perceived opinions that are not based on reason. These types of crimes are also referred to as bias offense or bias-motivated offenses and are known to immensely affect the core aspects of the victim’s identity.
For an act to meet the criteria of bias-offense, the action must be motivated by prejudice or bias, and it must constitute an offense under the criminal law. Bias offenses can include assault, threats, property damage, murder, or other crimes committed with prejudice motivation.
Who is most likely to be subject to Bias-motivated offenses?
1) Minority ethnic groups
2) Homosexuals and transgender people
3) Minority religions, e.g., Islam
4) People with disabilities
Causes of Bias-Motivated Offences
There are various reasons that individuals might be spurred into actions of rare animosity and toxic emotions. According to FBI reports, bias and a mix of toxic emotions lead to crimes such as assault, racism, and discrimination towards members of a particular community.
1) Thrill Seeking
Thrill-seeking has been identified as a significant cause of bias-motivated, and this is the immature itch for drama and excitement. Perpetrators seem to gain some comfort from embarrassing individual members of a specific community. Often, the attacker perceives that society does not care about the victim-or worse; they think society perceives the victim negatively.
2) Fear of Indignation
Another cause is the fear of indignation whereby an attacker seems to be defending their occupation, neighborhood, workplace, religion, or their nationality. Unlike the thrill seekers, those motivated by the urge to protect make justified assumptions of their offense and term them as necessary. The defender attackers commonly use events such as terrorism, crime rates, and loss of jobs to immigrants to justify their crimes.
The third cause of bias-motivated offenses is retaliation and often happens when a member of a specific community commits a crime such as terrorism, or murder. Whether in response or personal issues, some avengers act alone to target members of the ethnic, racial, or religious group to enact revenge. These are eye-for-an-eye kind of attacks which cause a type of phobia towards the target community and thus cause a lousy reputation and an urge for revenge.
Effects of Bias-Motivated Offences
Bias-motivated offenses are known to spread fear and anger throughout the community, and this impacts people’s perceptions and actions of the targeted population. Members of the targeted community might live in fear of being victimized, and this can cause distress at the community and individual level.
Bias-motivated, whether direct or indirect, can increase the feeling of vulnerability, shame, anxiety, and anger. These emotional reactions trigger specific behavior among the members of the target community, such as an increase in crime as anger leads to retaliation. Anxiety is also known to cause avoidance, which might lead to unequal education and employment opportunities for all community members.
In summary, a hate crime is an offense motivated by bias and pre-conceived perceptions about a particular community. People take the bias to extremes of attacking, injuring, killing, or emotionally hurting the victim of a specific community to prove their dominance over them. Bias-motivated offenses are on the rise as media and internet are the main avenues of spreading community-based bias.