What is Hate Crime?
‘Hate’ is a horrible word. I remember as a child (circa 1960s) my mother’s wise advice. ‘Never use that word, Louise.’
It’s easy to get into unintended provocative speech habits without noticing it, so she had a good point. For example, ‘You don’t hate carrots, you just don’t like them.’
But can you make the emotion of hatred into a violation of the law? If so, is it indeed smart to do so?
Hate Crime has been around in the UK since the Public Order Act of 1986. But the Racial and Religious Hatred Act of 2006, which seemed a reasonable idea to trial, is when it really took off. But has it worked in getting us to respect one another well enough to consider extending it even further? Some believe it is a step in the right direction. There are others who believe it’s counterproductive.
Critics of Hate Crime argue legislation has done the opposite of what it was designed to do. They claim anti-hate laws have provoked a culture of victimhood, damaged freedom of speech, wasted police time, and created massive confusion. It has done little more than to make us all into a bunch of hypocrites: thinking something, saying another, and led to a more divided society than before.
Extremism as a topic of political fiction
I cover these issues in my novels. In my book The Missing Activist Met Detective ‘Quacker’ Partridge is dead set against extending hate crime to misogyny. The Killing of the Cherrywood MP covers hate crime generated by growing local tensions between two diametrically opposed societies: The Far Right and the Muslim extremists.
As a crime novelist, writing about two-faced smiling assassin characters is part of the stock in trade. Like the owl, Machiavellians probe beneath the surface, manipulating the art of hate. Thoughts, please.