Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bias Crimes are Message Crimes

I was talking the other day to someone about hate, bias, violence, racism, and the methods that people and groups use to intimidate others. Today I saw a great post by David Neiwert of Orcinus. Neiwert has been writing brilliantly for years on the issues that I was discussing.

What I especially like about this post are the following things.

1) Neiwert explains what "hate crimes" really are, and he points out the willfull ignorance of some people (in this case Don Surber when it comes to the definition of what we have been calling hate crimes.

But even more important, most people who write about hate-crimes laws are aware that the term is something of a misnomer; what we call "hate crimes" are in fact known in the law as "bias crimes" -- crimes committed with a motivation of bias (racial, religious, ethnic, sexual, or gender) against the perceived class of the victim.

And to suggest that all violent crimes are bias crimes is, well, just plain ignorant. Crimes are committed out of a plenitude of motivations, and ethnic/religious/sexual biases constitute only a narrow band of them. Evidently, Surber is unaware of this.

He goes on to display even more ignorance:

Crime is the last segregated business in America. Most black crime victims are victims of blacks. White criminals generally pick white victims. If you are killed by a person of another color, does that make you more dead?

It seems that Surber labors under what's becoming an increasingly common misconception about how hate-crime laws work. They're not about interracial crime or, more generally, inter-identity crime. They're about, once again, bias crimes.


Hate crimes are message crimes: They are intended to harm not just the immediate victim, but all people of that same class within the community. Their message is also irrevocable: they are "get out of town, nigger/Jew/queer" crimes.

Read the whole post here. And if you want to discuss the topic intelligently that is a great place to do it. And, if you feel the need to play games launching your own views about what is or isn't a bias crime and what is or isn't an effective message to send about that kind of crime, please do it over at Dave's place. He really is an expert and along with Sara Robinson much better at helping people clarify their thinking on the topic. But if you willful use lame arguments like Surber's expect to be challenged.

Oh and while you are at it, buy one or more of Dave's books.

Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community

Strawberry Days will be especially interesting for people who watched Ken Burn's feature "The War" and it will also be good to read in case the government decides that all brown people who look like terrorists need to be rounded up based on no data other than their faith or browness.

Death on the Fourth of July: The Story of a Killing, A Trial, and Hate Crime in America, Image above.

In God's Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest

And, if you are a journalist in need to an expert on this topic, the next time there a bias crime that happens America, call or David. He will put it all in context for you and help educate you on the issues. Dave Neiwart should be your first stop when discussing the topic of "hate crimes" when it comes up in your state.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

I become a Verb. "Spockoed"


This week, two of the right wing's most extreme voices are learning the hard way that eliminationism no longer pays nearly as well as it used to. And the left wing is proving its skill with a new tactic in the war against eliminationist pundits. To coin a phrase, we might call it "getting Spockoed."

Sara Robinson, Orcinus

And here I am without a merchandising line. Damn. I told ¬°El Gato Negro! that they totally had the hat concession but I see no hats! Come on, I'm a fraking VERB now.
You must cash in on this!

-Update. Alert Reader (and one of the original 19, Ellroon points out it's "Spockoed" not "Spocked". I was just so shocked I couldn't spell! Plus, "Spockoed" isn't in my spell check yet. I'll add it.

-Update II 200 quatloos to Eli
Eli said...

"I am become verb, destroyer of words..."

1) He gets the joke/reference and b) He adds to it. Of course I was thinking "I am become verb, destroy of trademarks" but what the heck, didn't seem to hurt Google too much. Think about that next time you google yourself. Gotta jet, have to xerox some copies.

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