Hate Crime Policy Differentiation And Correlation

This essay has a total of 4289 words and 19 pages.

Hate Crime Policy Differentiation And Correlation To Political Culture





Many political scientists and researchers to a number of policy arenas in the United
States ranging from corporal punishment to the quality of urban life have applied Daniel
Elazar's concept of political cultures. For a vast majority of these policy programs, a
considerable correlation has been found to exist between the region examined and its
approach to a specific policy. Elazar focused on three primary political cultures: the
Moralist political culture (MPC), the Individual political culture (IPC), and the
Traditional political culture (TPC). These cultures have served as a basis for explaining
the difference that exist in the political, social, and personal facets of each respective
region. These ideas have been consistent throughout the course of this nation's history,
existing even in present times. I have chosen to focus on a policy program that has
demanded a great deal of attention in more recent times, namely in the past few years:
hate crime policy. With more widespread media coverage, hate crimes have become more
prevalent and more publicized than ever before. The Benjamin Smith shootings and the
murder of Matthew Shepard are only two examples of recent crimes, which have been
considered hate crimes that have promoted politicians and legislators to address this
ever-growing problem and formulate a solution. This paper will attempt to define and
uncover the history behind hate crime and the existing legislation. Furthermore, I will
explain my own hypothesis then examine regional difference in the approaches to hate
crimes and compare and contrast them to Daniel Elazar's idea of political cultures. My own
hypothesis is that moralist cultures will have been the first to initiate hate crime
policy and be most likely to have such policies followed by individualist, then
traditionalist political cultures.


Hate Crime: Definition and History

Every since the body of James Byrd was found in pieces on a road in east Texas, the
authorities have been struggling to bring charges to reflect the horror of the crime.
"Murder seems too pat: Mr. Byrd was chained to a truck and dragged for almost three
miles". In Texas, simple murder does not carry the death penalty. But Mr. Byrd was black,
apparently murdered by racists, so there is a call for this killing to be labeled a "hate
crime", for which the punishment is death by lethal injection (5).


Every day in the United States someone is attacked on the basis of his or her race,
religious affiliation, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation among other things. These
attacks often take the form of verbal harassment but some end in violent assault or death.
Recent studies indicate a rise in the number of "bias" or "hate" crimes since 1985 (4).
Congress has defined hate crimes as "a crime in which the defendant intentionally selects
a victim, or in the case of property crime, the property that is the object of the crime,
because of the actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ethnicity, gender,
disability, or sexual orientation of any person" (1). Valerie Jenness and Ryken Grattet
claim that "hate crime" have become a highly visible social problem that continues to
garner national attention and elicit community activism (2). When, however, did the
concept of "hate crimes" evolve? It was not until the late 1970's that lawmakers in the
United States began responding to a perceived escalation of racial, ethnic, religious, and
other forms of intergroup conflict with a novel legal strategy: the criminalization of
hate-motivated intimidation and violence. As a result of this strategy, most state
legislatures passed at least one piece of "hate crime" legislation in the late 1980's and
into the 1990's. Such legislation was justified by the harassment and intimidation,
assault, and destruction of property that was found to be particularly dangerous and
socially disruptive when motivated by bigotry (3).


The first hate crime law was passed in California in 1978, and since then hate crimes
statues have taken many forms, including statues prescribing criminal penalties for civil
rights violations, specific "ethnic intimidation" and "malicious harassment" statues, and
provisions for enhanced penalties. These laws specify provision for race, religion, color,
ethnicity, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, age, disability, creed,
marital status, political affiliation, involvement in civil or human rights, and armed
services personnel. Additionally, a few states require authorities to collect data on
hate, or bias-motivated crimes, mandate the training of law enforcement personnel,
prohibit paramilitary training, specify parental liability, and provide for victim
compensation. Many states also have statutes that prohibit institutional vandalism and the
desecration or defacement of religious objects, the interference with religious worship,
cross-burning, the wearing of hoods or masks, the formation of secret societies, and the
distribution of publications and advertisements designed to harass selected groups of
individuals. This last group of laws dates back as early as the late nineteenth century in
response to escalated Ku Klux Klan activity (3).



Who commits hate crime and who are they most likely to be directed toward? As with most
crime, less violent hate crimes are committed more often than violent crimes but no matter
the level of violence, all hate crimes are thought to negatively impact both the victim
and society. Perpetrators of hate crimes are often characterized as young, white,
lower-class males who commit the crimes for excitement or because of resentment of a
minority group (4). 80% of hate crimes are directed at whites, blacks, Jews, and
homosexuals, with offenses against blacks constituting the largest percentage of hate
crimes. Not surprisingly, because minority groups are the main victims of hate crimes,
they should have a vested interest in the passage of hate crime legislation. Minority
groups may push for hate crime legislation simply as a reaction to the threat but they may
also use the issue as a means to expand their political agenda (4).


The validity of hate crimes has been questioned. An article in The New Republic claims
that "in the 1960's, federal intervention was necessary in order to redress Southern
states' systematic and calculated indifference to crimes committed against blacks. The
federal government had to step in because state courts refused to enforce their own laws
and protect the lives and liberty of black citizens" (6). Addressing the Matthew Shepard
case, the article felt that no constitutional violations were at issue and that it was
simply an exercise in symbolic politics. Hate crime statues have been constitutionally
challenged. In 1992 and 1993, the United States Supreme Court decided two cases addressing
the constitutionality of statutes directed at bias-motivated intimidation and violence:
R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul and Wisconsin v. Mitchell. These well-known cases have now
substantially defined which hate crime statutes are, and which are not, acceptable under
the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. These cases challenged the notion
of free speech. Based on these cases, the American Defamation League has been strongly
urging states to adopt penalty-enhancement statues based on the League's model (7).


U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics for 1996 showed an incidence of 8,734
reported hate crimes by 11,355 participating agencies among all 50 states, including DC.
This was an increase from 7,947 in 1997 and 4,558 in 1991. 6,767 or these crimes were
race-related, 1,163 were ethnicity-related, 1,500 were directed toward religious beliefs
and 1,256 were related to sexual orientation (10).

Federal Initiatives on Hate Crime Policy

Before we examine the individual states approach to hate crimes, it is important to look
at the action taken by the federal government in response to this rising concern. The
first major act directed specifically at hate crimes was The Hate Crime Statistic Act (28
U.S.C. 534). Enacted in 1990, the HCSA requires the Justice Department to acquire date on
crimes which "manifest prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or
ethnicity" from law enforcement agencies across the country and to publish an annual
summary of the findings. In the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994,
Congress expanded coverage of the HCSA to require FBI reporting on crimes based on
"disability". The FBI's more recent HCSA report, for 1996, documented 8,759 hate crimes
reported by 11,355 agencies across the country. The FBI report indicated that about 63
percent of the reported hate crimes were race-based, with 14 percent committed against
individuals on the basis of their religion, 11 percent on the basis of ethnicity, and 12
percent on the basis of sexual orientation (7).


The Hate Crimes Sentencing Act, originally introduced by Rep. Charles Shumer (D-NY) and
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), both representing moralist states, was enacted into law as
Section 280003 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. The Violence
Against Women Act was also passed in 1994 and provided for authority for domestic violence
and rape crisis centers and for education and training programs for law enforcement and
prosecutors. This was followed by The Church Arsons Prevention Act (18 U.S.C. 247) and was
sponsored by Sens. Lauch Faircloth (R-NC) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA), and Reps. Henry Hyde
(R-IL) and John Conyers (D-MI) all of whom represent fairly moralist, somewhat
individualistic states with the exception of North Carolina (7).


The Clinton Administration has taken recent action regarding hate crimes as well. On
November 10, 1997, the President convened the first-ever White House Conference on Hate
Crimes. At the Conference, the President announced significant law enforcement and
prevention initiatives to get tough on hate crimes. The Conference examined the positive
actions that communities are taking and outline the steps that can be taken to prevent
hate crimes. Some of these initiatives included: fighting hate crimes through tough law
enforcement, prosecuting hate crimes aimed at our houses of worship, working with
communities against hate, and understanding the problem of hate crime. As President
Clinton stated in a radio address to the nation on June 7, 1997:


Hate crimes…leave deep scars not only on the victims, but on our larger community. They
weaken the sense that we are one people with common values and a common future. They tear
us apart when we should be moving closer together. They are acts of violence against
American itself…As part of our preparation for the new century, it is time for us to
mount and all-out assault on hate crimes, to punish them swiftly and severely, and to do
more to prevent them from happening in the first place. We must begin with a deeper
understanding of the problem itself (8).



A Comparative Look at State Hate Crime Policy

We have examined the federal initiatives regarding hate crimes, but more importantly, how
have individual states followed suit? Are there differences between states and if so, do
those differences correlate to Daniel Elazar's concept of political cultures? As Elazar
wrote, there are three distinct political cultures present in the United States: the
Moralist Political Culture, the Individualist Political Culture, and the Traditionalist
Political Culture. To briefly review, the MPC originated in the New England area as
immigrants from Scotland, Scandinavian countries, Holland, and British Canada settled the
area. With them they brought their Congregational, Presbyterian, and Lutheran faiths. They
believe in a marketplace form of government. Much is dependent upon the good of the
commonwealth. Programs are only imitated if the public desires and bureaucracy is
generally viewed as positive. Politics are healthy and everyone is encouraged to
participate. The Individualist political culture originated in the Middle-Atlantic states
by settlers from England, Germany, France, Belgium, and Ireland. The dominant religions
included: Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, and Lutheran. The IPC is marketplace-oriented.
The bureaucracy is viewed ambivalently and politics are seen as dirty. Professionals are
expected to participate and parties act as business organizations. Competition is between
parties, not issues as in the MPC. The IPC is oriented toward winning office for tangible
rewards. Finally, the Traditionalist political culture originated in the Southern United
States by settlers from French Canada. The Baptist faith was prevalent. The TPC, contrary
to the MPC, viewed government as a means of maintaining the status quo; the primary goal
of this culture. Bureaucracy was viewed negatively, politics were seen as privilege
reserved for participation by elites and competition occurred between elites within a
dominant party (9).


As stated in lecture, variation among states account for differences in policy behavior.
The political culture, as explained above, politics, socioeconomic differences, and
population are all feasible explanations for these differences. Heterogeneous states are
more diverse and thus have more issues to address while homogenous states maintain stable
views. There is little movement up or down. As Elazar stated, the east and north region of
the United States are moralist and consequently more liberal. These areas naturally are
more apt to adopt legislation that promotes the commonwealth and preserves the rights of
the citizens. The TPC areas, on the other hand, are more resistant to change. New ideas
have a major obstacle because the TPC is a culture opposed to change. White supremacy has
been a dominant factor in the south. White have typically dominated blacks. Race is the
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