First Video Abstract Available! – “Isn’t Every Crime a Hate Crime?: The Case for Hate Crime Laws”
The process to create hate crime laws in the United States has wrestled with the core issues of freedom of speech and greater harm. This article looks at the evolution of bias crime laws, culminating with President Obama’s signing of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009. The constitutionality of the laws is ‘discussed and suggestions for sociological research are made. Four elements of hate crime laws are discussed; criminality, intent, perception, and protected statuses. The logic of hate crime laws is based on the argument that hate crimes are a form of terrorism, designed to intimidate large groups of people. Readers should be familiar with the basic case for the existence of such laws.