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Victimization of Goths and the Boundaries of Hate Crime (From Hate Crime: Concepts, Policy, Future Directions, P 40-57, 2010, Neil Chakraborti, ed. - See NCJ-232732)

NCJ Number
Jon Garland
Date Published
18 pages
Stemming from a 2007 criminal case in the United Kingdom in which a girl was killed and her boyfriend badly beaten by a group of youths who were offended by the couples' wearing of clothing and accessories reflective of the Goth subculture, this chapter examines the implications of this case for the legal conceptual framework that defines a "hate crime."
Goth as a subculture emerged as a distinct "spectacular" youth culture in the late 1970s and early 1980s, developing a "doom-laden" style that encompasses artefacts, appearances, and music deemed suitably dark. The clothing worn by adherents to the Goth subculture is distinctively black, sometimes vampiric, with distinctly different hair styles. Because of the absence of any proven motive for the killing and the beating other than the victims' distinctive appearance, the judge who heard the case labeled the murder a "hate crime," even though a victim being an adherent of the Goth subculture is not specifically mentioned as warranting charging and sentencing the offender under a "hate crime" statute. This chapter explores the judges' viewpoint by assessing whether the harassment and victimization of Goths or those who engage in "alternative subculture" can be included with hate crimes that target the victim's race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. This chapter concludes that it may be time to develop a definition of hate crime that is not predicated on the victim being a member of a historically marginalized and disadvantaged group, but instead prioritizes the reasons behind their victimization. 6 notes and 39 references