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Understanding the Harm of Hate Crime

NCJ Number
Journal of Social Issues Volume: 58 Issue: 2 Dated: Summer 2002 Pages: 207-225
Robert J. Boeckmann; Carolyn Turpin-Petrosino
Date Published
19 pages
This introductory article summarizes the content and themes of the articles in this journal issue, which focus on the origins of hate crime, the harm that it creates, and victims' and society's response to hate crime, as well as the tensions between the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
A discussion of issues in defining hate crime notes that there is no consensus among social scientists or lawmakers on definitional elements that would constitute a global description of hate crime, due partly to cultural differences, social norms, and political interests that influence the defining of crime in general and hate crime in particular. A number of articles in this issue depict the perpetrators' of hate crimes as having an aversion toward their victim, not as an individual, but as a representative of a group perceived by the perpetrator to have a reviled set of characteristics. Another section of this article discusses the defining of hate speech, which often accompanies the behavior that constitutes a hate crime, and such speech can be the key to distinguishing a particular crime as a hate crime. Following a brief section on the context and content of hate crime research, this article turns to summaries of the articles, which are presented under the following general topics: societal perspectives on balancing freedom and equality, origins and motives in perpetrator perspectives, and the impact on and response of victims. 40 references


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