A hate crime is defined as any wrong doing perpetrated against a particular group of people. It is a form of prejudice directed at a group of individuals based on their ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious preference, or any other defining characteristic. Anytime two different groups of people come in contact with each other, there is the possibility of tension or conflict developing, which often leads to violence. Whether the crime in question is assault, theft, verbal abuse or even murder, the motivation behind it is based on the hatred for a group that is perceived as being different in some way.
The origin of hate crimes dates back to ancient civilizations. One of the earliest examples is from the Roman Empire, which was well known for persecuting various religious groups. According to several historical documents, Christianity was largely tolerated by Emperor Nero until the year 64 AD, when a tremendous fire destroyed a great portion of Rome. The Emperor felt he was being blamed for the damage, so he shifted the guilt to the Christians and called for anyone who followed the religion to be punished. This led to years of hate crimes against anyone who followed the beliefs of Christianity as well as several other religious groups.
Some hate crimes have been so tremendous that they have affected the entire world. One of the most notable is the Nazi’s persecution of the Jewish people. Hitler’s “Final Solution” called for the total annihilation of the Jews and led to building of full scale death camps. This dark period in world history, The Holocaust, resulted in the mass murder of millions of people. In more recent years, the act of genocide, or attempting to obliterate an entire ethnic, racial or religious group, has occurred in both Bosnia and Rwanda.
Hate crimes occur on a smaller scale constantly all over the world. In the United States the majority of hate crimes are racially motivated. These crimes primarily consist of intimidation, vandalism and assault. Statistics provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation have shown that hate crimes are on the rise in America. In 2006, the number of crimes increased by 8% from the year before. These bleak facts show that despite how far society has advanced, hate crimes are still far from history.
Back to Crime Library