Calling Hate Crimes What They Really Are

This happened in Oklahoma City:

Jon Ferguson is lucky to be alive. Early Saturday morning, the Edmond, Oklahoma (in the Oklahoma City metro area), man man woke up to his car alarm going off. He rushed outside to find a group of vandals defacing his car. When he confronted them, they threw something into his car, causing it to explode. Ferguson was then taken to the hospital with first- and second-degree burns caused by the explosion.

That’s not even it, though. The vandals also spray-painted the word “fag” on his car.

This obviously leads Ferguson, who lives as an openly gay man, and others to believe this was not merely a random act of arson, but a hate crime…

What’s even worse is the effect this has understandably had on Ferguson. He is now having second thoughts about his decision to come out and live openly.

It’s almost not worth being proud of who you and trying to show you’re gay because stuff like this really does happen. I’ve always seen it on the news that kids are dying and stuff because they’re being bullied, and you’re 25 years old and something like this happens to you. It’s almost not worth it, and you understand why kids don’t come out of the closet.

I’m sure Ferguson isn’t the only one in Oklahoma City wondering if it was wise to come out. And this is really what hate crimes are designed to do–victimize an entire community.

Whenever hate crime legislation is discussed, there are always people who are intentionally trying to not get the point, usually by claiming that lots of crimes are hate-based or some other hooey. That’s because these crimes are not called what they really are:

terrorism.

Just as lynching was designed to intimidate not only the lynching victim (who usually was murdered), this sort of crime is designed to intimidate and terrorize an entire group of people. It is fundamentally different than an asshole who gets pissed at an individual gay man and torches his car. We should change the name, but recognize the special status of the crime.

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2 Responses to Calling Hate Crimes What They Really Are

  1. Zme says:

    Oh, I dunno, how about “Terrorism”? You know, acts of violence against one or a few representatives in order to intimidate the entire population.

  2. Mpl says:

    How about a new charge called “public intimidation by crime”? It would cover hate crimes, but also protection rackets, intimidating witnesses, etc. It’s not clear in advance which communities might be targeted-not just racial, ethnic, religious, and ethnic minorities, but neighborhoods, occupations, etc.

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