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Our Nation’s Hidden Problems – Hate Crimes Essay

It happens every day, people are made fun of, people are bullied and the bully-ers, and some people are just flat out victims of straight hate crimes that lead to death. “A Hate Crime is a criminal offense committed against persons, property or society that is motivated , in whole or in part, by an offenders bias against an individual’s or a group’s race, religion, ethnic/national origin, gender, age, disability or sexual orientation.” -IACP Definition. With the definition of a hate crime explained, hate crimes are offenses against society. The perpetrators have their eyes on not only a primary victim, yet everyone in the victims group – everyone perceived as different. The perpetrators impact not only the victims, group but society as a whole, breaking the bond that holds its people together.

Victims are seen as different from what the “norm” of society needs in its everyday life. Actions from the perpetrator doesn’t happen very randomly, yet happens all around the world. What is an extremely interesting topic is hate crimes on the college campuses. I was somewhat surprised to see just how many incidents actually happen. According to Justice Department data, 12 percent of hate crimes take place on college or school campuses but the numbers don’t show how much occurs on university campuses. Officials also say that many of the racial or sexual incidents are commonly not reported. The most common hate crimes committed on a college campuses are racial bias, religious bias, and sexual orientation bias.

Now with a racial bias hate crime has many examples of people hating each other for being black, or brown, or even white. However with college kids, its not as simple as saying something like “You’re a Nigger,” or “You’re Cracker.” They have to put things to the extreme. Simple things are never good enough. At the University of Missouri-Columbia, there were cotton balls scattered outside the black cultural center. This might seem like a harmless joke to some people, yet to others it is one of the most hateful and devastating thing someone could do. As early as 1560’s slavery was brought into America from Spain. Blacks were treated as animals, were forced to do things that White people didn’t want to do because they thought that they were to good for it. One task that is commonly known that blacks did as they were slaves was “cotton pickers.” The thirteenth amendment, abolishing slavery, was passed by the Senate in April 1864, and by the House of Representatives in January 1865, however feelings that the white people had for blacks still did not go away.

Another example of a racial hate crime was done by a white fraternity sparked an uproar at the University of California San Diego when it sponsored a ghetto-themed “Compton Cookout” to mock Black History Month. There is a very fine line between hate crimes and stereotyping someone/many people. Almost every member of a stereotyped group is seen as an equal opportunity of everyone else in the group. A stereotype usually cannot be modified by contradictory evidence, meaning that no argument or evidence is compelling enough to change a hate mongers mind. Also, the the perpetrator is emotionally invested in believing the worst about the members of stigmatized group. Finally, the person who accepts the validity of a nasty stereotype isn’t simply trying to make sense of his world. More likely, he is looking for a convenient excuse to express hostility, to attack and victimize the people he despises. Stereotyping is more “accepted in society” because every single person has stereotyped before.

Religious based hate crimes are second most common in all of the hate crimes all over the world. More often than not Religious discrimination are usually acts of vandalism although personal attacks do occur. Of the religiously based hate crimes, attacks against Jews rose from 64% in 2006 to 68% in 2007. Anti-Muslim hate crimes, meanwhile, decreased from 12% in 2006 to 9% in 2007.

This surprises me because hate crimes against Jews went up, yet I feel like the hate towards the Muslims has gone up and their hate crime attacks has gone down. After the terrorist attacks the United States suffered from on the Twin Towers in New York City 2001, the FBI found that while attacks against Muslims had previously been the least common hate crime against a religious group–just 28 in 2000–the number of incidents surged to 481 in 2001, an increase of 1,600%. Even the hate crimes against peoples religions occurred college campuses.

For examples, there was a swastika scrawled on a bathroom wall near a Jewish studies center at the University of Miami. Miami-Dade County, the eleventh largest Jewish community in the country, consists of 121,300 persons living in 54,000 Jewish households. Of these 121,300 persons, 113,000 are Jewish. Which is obviously a huge population of Jewish members, the perpetrators knew that it would be completely offensive. It is again just another college student who lacks in self-discipline. The question that I have been wondering is “Why possesses you to do such a thing like this?” Why do people think its alright to put all of their hatred out into the open and hurt other people. What people do is not hurt people emotionally, but they also sometimes hurt them physically. It might not be a physical act by the person committing the crime, it could be done by the victim of the hate crime, meaning self-infliction.

Another example that hits closer to home here in Massachusetts. A young man names James Samar was a college student who attended a small Massachusetts college was indicted on three counts of using threats of force to interfere with the rights of three other students. He used anti-Semitic slurs and threatened to actually kill one of the three other students. What James did was sent photographs of holocaust victims and said “A reminder of what happened to your relatives because they too mad a mockery of Christianity.” To go as far as this someone must thing that there is something wrong with Samar. People should not have this much hatred towards people or a certain group that they belong to. There is no right or wrong when it comes into what you believe. People need to take a step back, they don’t need to agree with other people, it just has to be understood that opinions are opinions and everyone can have theirs.

The third more common hate crime committed on a college campus is sexual orientation. Meaning the preferences on whether you like boys or girls, homosexual or heterosexual. Two main cases that stand out on a college campus, are two young men Matthew Shepard who was a student at the University of Wyoming and Tyler Clementi a student at Rutgers University.

Matthew Shepard was a 21 year old man who was attacked by two other men because he was gay. Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson were the two men who attacked Shepard with a pistol-whip, and tortured him, tying him to a fence and leaving him to die. Eighteen hours later a cyclist Aaron Kreifels, discovered Shepard and thought he was a scarecrow because he was alive but in coma.

This however wasn’t the first time Shepard was attacked for being gay. In 1995 during a high school trip, he was beaten, robbed, and raped, causing him to withdraw from school and experience depression and panic attacks. However, Henderson and McKinney were not charged with a hate crime, because no Wyoming criminal statute provided for such a charge. The nature of Shepard’s murder led to requests for new legislation addressing hate crime, urged particularly by those who believed that Shepard was targeted on the basis of his sexual orientation.

As for Tyler Clementi, he was an 18 year old man who was a student at Rutgers University in New Jersey. What happened here to cause him to commit suicide was his roommate, Dharum Ravi, video tapes him with another man doing sexual acts. Clementi was video taped without his knowledge, and Ravi was charged with invasion or privacy and bias intimidation. It was at this point where Clementi had talked about his problems to his RA and also made his complaints public putting them up online on Yahoo! and a message board website called “Just Us Boys.” No one listened to him, and thats when he took matters into his own hands and committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

All of these cases that have been discussed in the paper are considered to be in some way or form of a hate crime. Hate crimes can be committed by everyone and anyone. It happens every day, people are made fun of, people are bullied and the bully-ers, and some people are just flat out victims of straight hate crimes that lead to death. The most common hate crimes committed on a college campuses are racial bias, religious bias, and sexual orientation bias.

Websites used:

Ashcroft, John. 2001. “Hate Crimes on Campus: The Problems and Efforts to
Confront it.”. Retrieved February 2012 (

Associated Press. 2009. “Attorney General urges new hate crimes law.” Retrieved February 2012 (

Barker, Tim. 2010 “Racial campus hate crimes surge across America” Retrieved February 2012 (

Brandou, Collen. 2010 “Hate Crimes Increase on College Campuses” Retrieved February 2012. (

FBI. 2009. UCR. “Hate Crime Statistics.” Retrieved February 2012.

Gipson, Ashley, 2008. “Religious hate crimes down overall, up against Jews.” Retrieved February 2012. (

Jones, Lawrence, 2008. “FBI: Religious Hate Crimes Down in 2007.” Retrieved February 2012. (

Levin, Brian. 2010. “Stone Cold Jew-Baiting.” Retrieved February 2012.

Martindale, Gayla. 2009 “Hate Crimes on Campus” Retrieved February 2012

Putnam, Robert and David Campbell. 2010. “American Grace. How Religion divides and unites us.” New York, New York, United States: Simon & Schuster.

Serrano, Richard. 2002. “Hate Crimes Against Muslims Soar, Report says.” Retrieved February 2012. Hate Crimes Against Muslims Soar, Report Says – Los Angeles Times

Statemaster. 2010. “Religion Hate Crime Statistics.” Retrieved February 2012.

Wax, Heather. 2010. “Breakdown of Hate Crimes, Based on Religion.” Retrieved February 2012.


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