Monday, October 16, 2006

Hate Crime

The FBI reports a 6% drop in hate crimes last year.
The vast majority of hate crimes in both years were motivated by race, according the reports, which detailed the data based on so-called "single-bias" incidents. That means the crime was motivated by only one kind of bias against the victim, according to the FBI.

Race-based criminal activity accounted for 54.7 percent of hate crimes last year, up slightly from 52.9 percent in 2004, the FBI found. Another 17 percent of hate crimes in 2005 targeted victims for their religious beliefs, and 14.2 percent for their sexual orientation.
Seeing this phrase, "single-bias incidents," leads me to wonder: why aren't crimes committed against women considered hate crimes? Crimes like rape, for instance. Salon's "Broadsheet" asks the same question, citing the Amish school murders, where only girls were targeted, and quoting the New York Times' Bob Herbert:
"Imagine if a gunman had gone into a school, separated the kids up on the basis of race or religion, and then shot only the black kids. Or only the white kids. Or only the Jews. There would have been thunderous outrage. The country would have first recoiled in horror, and then mobilized in an effort to eradicate that kind of murderous bigotry. There would have been calls for action and reflection. And the attack would have been seen for what it really was: a hate crime."

When Broadsheet covered the issue two weeks ago, we saw the killings much the way Herbert does, but we were in the minority -- later that week, Ms. Magazine's wire service noted that analysis of the targeted killings was mostly restricted to the feminist blogosphere. Herbert suggests that most media outlets glossed over the victims' gender because we've all become desensitized to violence against women and girls: "[No outcry] occurred," he wrote, "because these were just girls, and we have become so accustomed to living in a society saturated with misogyny that violence against females is more or less to be expected. Stories about the rape, murder and mutilation of women and girls are staples of the news, as familiar to us as weather forecasts.
"American misogyny and the related objectification of women are the great invisible, mechanisms for eroding the status of women and girls that work best when they're not identified as such," Salon's Page Rockwell concludes.

I realize that applying the "hate crime" label has all kinds of legal complexities that I don't necessarily get. But sometimes, when I consider the culture we live in, it's hard not to conclude that people can get away with saying things about women that they'd have a hard time saying about any other class of people. Homophobia and gay bashing is pervasive, but you write a song advocating it, you'll pay a price.

But bashing women? This evening, I rode my bike to the gym. In the parking lot was a over-chromed SUV, whose occupant was blasting some hip-hop tune. For some reason, we all had to hear it. I mean, I'm locking up my bike, taking off the light, doing things that take time, and he's standing by his SUV, pumping his fist. Every line had "bitches" in it. You know? Capping the ho's and such.

I thought about going up to the guy and asking him why the fuck he felt like he had to share his stupid, hateful crap with everybody in the goddamn parking lot, but as he was about 275 lbs., most of which was muscle, I decided to do my workout instead.

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