Perhaps it was only when time-travelling 21st Century DI Sam Tyler was confronted by racism in 1973 and expressed his opinion that he suspected a ‘Hate Crime’ that the ludicrousness of the term seemed more blatant than ever. ‘As opposed to an I-really-love-you crime?’ asked his guv’nor in response. Okay, so DCI Gene Hunt in the celebrated BBC drama ‘Life on Mars’ may not have been the most sympathetic or sensitive of characters, but the notion of a separate category for a criminal act based solely on ‘hate’ is a contentious one that deserves to be questioned. At the time ‘Life on Mars’ was set, there were certainly plenty of retrospective Hate Crimes being committed on British streets; the daily murders by both sides of the sectarian divide in Northern Ireland could be considered so – using today’s definition, anyway.
The impression sometimes given is that Hate Crime was hatched as a catch-all umbrella label to Hoover-up lots of little offences and assemble them all in a neat package that could also encompass other ‘offences’ not already catered for by the law. Many of the actions by individuals that fall under the Hate Crime banner would once have been dismissed as little more than playground-level name-calling; it’s a definition open to abuse like few others. It’s as though officers arriving at the scene of a crime who may be bemused by the evident absence of a motive pull the Hate Crime card out of a hat because it not only makes their job so much easier; it also pleases those who demand recognition as Victims.
There are numerous subdivisions that are encompassed by the Hate Crime tag. These include racially motivated violence, transphobic violence, violence against LGBT people, violence against men, violence against women, violence against people with disabilities and so forth – all of which are horrible, but all of which are virtually identical and unpleasant crimes committed by one human being against another. Should they not simply be considered age-old acts of violence full stop? Why do they require their own little label that immediately puts them in a ‘special category’?
The need to categorise everything and everyone so that every item of information on a database can be referenced and cross-referenced to see which box it belongs in has been extended from data to people; and people are utterly complicit in this. The desire to be a ‘joiner’ and belong to an officially recognised Community seems to have superseded religious definitions in many cases as a means of self-identification, and would appear to fulfil a deep need to be a member of a crowd in a world that has been shorn of its older certainties. The advent of Hate Crime could be considered a symptom of this need.
Actively promoted by pressure groups and self-proclaimed minorities seeking a pigeonhole to comfortably slot into, Hate Crime is not only redefining genuine crimes and grouping them with incidents that should barely register as such, but it appears to be a term that is being applied to any manner of minor insults, an extension of the PC Police in monitoring free speech. The whole ‘you can’t say that’ argument has been given one hell of a boost with the inception of Hate Crime.
Nowhere is this more obvious than online, where the anonymity a fake identity provides apparently gives the troll carte-blanche to say whatever he or she likes and receive no comeback. Hate Mail existed long before email, let alone Twitter, so it’s nothing new. Technology has merely facilitated a faster means of sending abuse than it used to take when posting a letter, just as it has enabled messages of a more benign nature to reach the recipient in an instant. For those who live online and can barely survive a minute without gazing at their Smartphone, any abusive text or message is bound to have a greater impact, as this is impinging upon the central hub of their existence.
The Metropolitan Police Force is clearly taking the concerns of online obsessives into account by setting up a new unit to tackle the problem for the princely sum of £1.7m. A spokesman for the pilot project claimed there was ‘no place for hate in London’ and also used that awful term ‘zero tolerance’, which always sounds too uncomfortably reminiscent of old phrases such as ‘short, sharp shock’ or even the inappropriate application of the word ‘Tsar’ to anyone heading such a taskforce.
It is the vagueness of Hate Crime as a description and how easily it can be attached to an opinion that contradicts the current consensus that makes it such a problematic term. Any police involvement in a dispute between one individual and a Community (especially an online one) always seems an unnecessary intervention, something that grown adults should be able to deal with on their own and not go crying to the Boys in Blue about. After all, they have enough issues of their own making to deal with, such as murdering former Premier League footballers by applying 50,000 volts to them simply because they resisted being restrained. That might not be a Hate Crime, but it’s pretty bloody hateful. RIP Dalian Atkinson.
© The Editor
7 thoughts on “ALL YOU NEED IS HATE”
The elasticity of ‘hate crime’ takes us pretty much as near as we can get to the ‘thoughtcrime’ state in ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ – and as soon as they’ve got the technology to tap into your brain as well as they currently can into your broadband, then we’ll have arrived at full-on Orwell.
What few precious gems are left of our real freedom dissolve by the day because we seem powerless to stop them being eroded by the various agencies of the state under the flimsy guise of ‘protection’ but where, in truth, no such protection should be needed.
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The amount of what would now be labelled ‘Hate Crimes’ most of us probably experienced at school, both from fellow classmates and teachers, would keep law firms in business for all eternity were they to be highlighted as such today. The way in which the term is constantly applied seems symptomatic of the regressive infantilisation of the population, a sadly voluntary process.
Whilst everyone (well, almost everyone) has the right to go about their cyber life without unspeakably nasty filth being sprayed with nastiness by some keyboard warrior, I can’t help feel that this is as sinister and Orwellian as the very name “Hate Crime” – which is surely the bastard love child of Thought Crime and Political Correctness.
What I detect is that The Establishment is increasingly unhappy that out there – you know, outside affluent areas of London or Edinburgh – there are, as difficult as it is to accept, people with views which are definitely not “on message”. This has even manifested itself in the recent Brxit farce, in which quite the wrong sort of people votes, and in a way which they should never have been allowed to do. Indeed, one could (and someone soon will) argue that each “Leave” vote was a expression of racism and national xenophobia, and thus a Hate Crime in its own right.
What I detect from my own, and very partial, use of “social meeja” is widespread cynicism of the Establishment’s position on many matters, but most of all, on recent events and the role of Norwegians. Norwegians and “Swiss nationals” appear to have been causing all sorts of mayhem lately, although it’s worthwhile pointing out that the overwhelming majority of Norwegians and Swiss nationals are perfectly law abiding citizens. Nevertheless, “the proles” persist in scoffing at the output of Patriotic State Broadcaster 1 or Megacorp News! The pernicious oik that is Rod Liddle has even made some purile observations about it in the Spectator this week, which can be read via his Facebook page.
We have already had the bizarre case of the student being investigated for “making threats to kill” after suggesting to Bristol West MP Thangam Debbonaire (you couldn’t make it up) to “Get in the fucking sea!, we she has suggested involves the suggestion that she should drown. As far as I can see, it does no such thing. It involves the suggestion that one might get wet, although even that is debatable, because one could, as a matter of ordinary construction, interpret it as an invitation to go scuba diving in full gear, or take a ride on a submarine. One has to wonder why such a vigorous and pro-active approach had not been taken say, in Rotherham, where other matters of concern occurred.
But of you want to really know about the Kafka-esque world of “Hate Crime” read this astonishing account by a perfectly sensible academic charges with “Hate Crime” and pursued for two years – notwithstanding that the allegations were palpable nonsense.
What I sense behind this is an attempt to stop people thinking, communicating, informing and yes, ridiculing: all these are anathema to the Establishment. If there is one thing more dangerous than a policeman with a Taser it could be a policeman with a key board.
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When “hate crime” was introduced as a concept, it was a laudable attempt to make people think twice before they went “queer bashing” (witness: windsock) or “Paki” bashing (witness: windsock). If people were to get extra jail time / heavier fines because they attacked someone for who they were, rather than some random drunken drunken violence, then good. I’ve seen/been on the end of “fucking queer cunt” boots and had a horrifying conversation with a skinhead in a toilet who told me about going to Leicester Square to go “Paki bashing” – I couldn’t finish peeing fast enough.
But those are physical acts, exacerbated by a physical hatred of a type of person. Would a gang go looking for a straight person or a white person to go “straight”/”White” bashing? Doubtful.
However, I have no problem with the verbal expression of hatred provided it does not lead to physical follow through… and that’s the thin line isn’t it? Where do online words end and mass shootings in America begin? On the whole, I’d say if you can’t draw the distinction between words and actions, youll probably end up being locked up one way or another eventually. But just for speech? No, even though I think a lot of people push the boundaries of free speech with regard to incitement to hatred because they know what the effects would be if they were ever caught carrying out the hatred they profess.
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I suppose the irony is that the police were amongst the most prominent ‘queer bashers’ and ‘paki bashers’ of the past, and various fly on the wall-type docs of recent years have shown that mindset remains prevalent within several forces around the country, despite legislation suggesting otherwise. I think the notion of Hate Crime, as with what came to be termed ‘Political Correctness’ itself, is a case of a well-meaning attempt to right wrongs becoming a bandwagon for hitch-hikers that is somewhat overloaded at the moment.
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Spot on, that.
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Windsock’s right that it should come down to the difference between words and actions – frankly, I don’t care a toss what anyone says or writes about me, either in my ear-shot or not, but if they take damaging actions against me, then I retain the right to respond accordingly.
The real problem started with the Race Relations industry, when the nebulous and subjective issue of ‘incitement’ was included in the criminal field – thus forms of words were magically transformed into implicit actions, on which sanctions could then be imposed. That was the spawning of the ‘hate crime’ industry and, with it, the swan-song for our broad freedom of speech, which we allowed to be stolen too easily.
I’m not defending anyone who makes hateful comments against others based on their race, religion, sexuality, hair-colour, inside-leg measurement etc., they are not my kind of people, but they are still just comments and no one was physically harmed in the making of that comment. “Sticks & stones….”, as we kids used to chant in the playground in more rational and grown-up times.
But I fear it has already gone too far and is now deeply embedded into the nation’s ‘operating system’ like an IT virus, steadily destroying everything we hold dear, and solely for the perceived benefit of its deviant and malevolent creators.
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