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Hate Crime as a Moral Category: Lessons From the Snowtown Case

Hate Crime as a Moral Category: Lessons From the Snowtown Case AbstractHate crime is more than a legal category. It is also a moral category thatpromotes tolerance and respect over prejudice. In so doing, the concept of hatecrime makes a claim for social justice on behalf of those groups disadvantagedby racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism and so on. This article argues that one ofthe means via which the concept of hate crime does this is to generate certainforms of ‘emotional thinking’ among the general public, suchas compassion for victims and contempt or disgust for perpetrators. The questionof whether a given criminal event will be labelled and constructed as a hatecrime is thus not simply a matter of whether it meets the minimal definitionalrequirements. It is also dependent upon the capacity of those who claim victimstatus to engender forms of emotional thinking that encourage others to see themas the undeserving victims of prejudice, that is, as ‘ideal’victims. This argument is grounded in a recent empirical study of the Snowtownmurders in South Australia. Despite the emergence of a strong ‘hatredas motive’ theme in the legal arena, the murders have never beenpublicly labelled as hate crime. The article argues that images of deep moralfailure on the part of the victims (not just the perpetrators) precluded themfrom engendering forms of emotional thinking that are essential if the conceptof hate crime is to function as a moral category. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology SAGE

Hate Crime as a Moral Category: Lessons From the Snowtown Case

Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology , Volume 40 (3): 23 – Jun 1, 2007

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Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
Copyright © by SAGE Publications
ISSN
0004-8658
eISSN
1837-9273
DOI
10.1375/acri.40.3.249
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

AbstractHate crime is more than a legal category. It is also a moral category thatpromotes tolerance and respect over prejudice. In so doing, the concept of hatecrime makes a claim for social justice on behalf of those groups disadvantagedby racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism and so on. This article argues that one ofthe means via which the concept of hate crime does this is to generate certainforms of ‘emotional thinking’ among the general public, suchas compassion for victims and contempt or disgust for perpetrators. The questionof whether a given criminal event will be labelled and constructed as a hatecrime is thus not simply a matter of whether it meets the minimal definitionalrequirements. It is also dependent upon the capacity of those who claim victimstatus to engender forms of emotional thinking that encourage others to see themas the undeserving victims of prejudice, that is, as ‘ideal’victims. This argument is grounded in a recent empirical study of the Snowtownmurders in South Australia. Despite the emergence of a strong ‘hatredas motive’ theme in the legal arena, the murders have never beenpublicly labelled as hate crime. The article argues that images of deep moralfailure on the part of the victims (not just the perpetrators) precluded themfrom engendering forms of emotional thinking that are essential if the conceptof hate crime is to function as a moral category.

Journal

Australian & New Zealand Journal of CriminologySAGE

Published: Jun 1, 2007

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