Could hate crime legislation increase risks for others?

Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls is introducing hate crime provisions for sentencing laws:

Mr Hulls said the laws would apply to hate crimes motivated by race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

I’m not sure how the ‘hate’ element is determined in law, but in the media the racist element of attacks on Indian students has usually been inferred from the racial abuse handed out during the assault or robbery.

As yet, however, there is no evidence that the offenders have any particular racist ideology. Indeed, the Indians seem like odd targets for Anglo racists (Andrew Bolt claims that many of the attackers are Africans). English-speaking cricket lovers have more in common with the majority population than do many other migrant groups.

Because there is little history of anti-Indian racism in Australia the surveys on ethnic views don’t have much on Indians, but what polling there is suggests they barely register on the racist radar. For example, in a 2004 Saulwick poll conducted for the federal election that year, just 0.6% of respondents nominated India as a country from which we should not receive migrants. In the 2007 Mapping Social Cohesion survey, just 1.9% nominated India as a country from which we should receive fewer migrants.

The racist abuse Indian victims have received may have more to do with verbal intimidation than with actual racist views, an added element of picking on victims unlikely to fight back.

But assuming criminals have some basic level of rationality, could the prospect of a harsher sentence for picking on a ‘victim’ group make them more likely to pick targets with little chance of providing the prosecution with a ‘hate’ angle? With the Australian-born already at greater risk from criminals, ‘hate crime’ laws could add to their woes.

7 Responses to “Could hate crime legislation increase risks for others?

  • 1
    M
    June 3rd, 2009 14:19

    Let’s play Devil’s Advocate:

    If “Factoring hate-based crime into sentencing laws will not necessarily result in tougher penalties” (from TheAge Link), does that mean that a crime purely for money will get a lesser sentence than it currently does?

    Hate-based crime legislation is a farce. You can’t legislate against what someone is thinking. Its incredibly difficult to confirm (or deny).

    Is handbag snatching a “hate crime” because handbag’s are carried by women?

    I’m not denying that hate-crime exists or that its a problem. I’m yet to be convinced that there is a specific solution that is better than trying to reduce all violent crime.

    This is a classic case of a minister being seen to be doing something.

  • 2
    Rajat Sood
    June 3rd, 2009 19:39

    I think it’s hard to reasonably assume that these sorts of attackers have ‘a basic level of rationality’. A mugger just interested in maximising mugging proceeds might think a bit rationality, but thugs who receive gratification from beating someone up are unlikely to alter their choice of victim just because IF they get caught, they might face a slightly tougher penalty. And if only loving cricket were enough to bring people together: I’m not sure if Harbhajan Singh and Matth Haydon will be sharing a beer any time soon!
    This is not to say I think the creation of hate crimes is a good idea. But yes, the politicians have to be seen to be doing something.

  • 3
    Jack Strocchi
    June 3rd, 2009 21:35

    Andrew Norton says:

    As yet, however, there is no evidence that the offenders have any particular racist ideology. Indeed, the Indians seem like odd targets for Anglo racists (Andrew Bolt claims that many of the attackers are Africans). English-speaking cricket lovers have more in common with the majority population than do many other migrant groups.

    I smell a politically correct rat. The government is pumping 300,000 immigrants pa into a country that is already bursting at the seams.

    Naturally tempers are starting to fray. Especially within the diverse immigrant communities living in more marginal circumstances.

    But it is simply not on for the elites, either cultural, financial or political, to start questioning the wisdom of their reckless social experiment. Not when so many extra “bums on seats” are at stake, amortizing the cost of their several investments.

    So, in a classic diversionary tactic, ethnic lobbies have audaciously turned the tables and pointed the finger at “whitey”. Expect more of these trumped up moral panics as our elites lead us further into into uncharted territory.

    One interesting consequence of increasing tolerance of multicultural diversity is reducing tolerance of sub-cultural perversity, particularly in the area of substance abuse. The latter, once the domain of bohemian intellectuals, is no longer an option given the current ethnic mix. So I expect further constraints on late night drinking and drug-taking.

  • 4
    conrad
    June 4th, 2009 01:06

    “The government is pumping 300,000 immigrants pa into a country that is already bursting at the seams. Naturally tempers are starting to fray.”
    .
    Of course, given the state of the training system in Australia, and given the love of post-modern mediocrity which the average Australian born citizen seems to have become afflicted with over the last few decades, if these immigrants didn’t come, it’s hard to see where Australia would be now. Perhaps the alternative is that people’s tempers would fray as the economy collapsed.

  • 5
    Jack Strocchi
    June 4th, 2009 14:47

    We are laying up a store of woe for ourselves down the track if we follow the “neo-liberal” prescription of “debtquity, diversity and density”.

    We have, as I predicted, missed out on the GFC so far. That is mainly because the PRC is still buying our ore at dear rates, loaning us capital at cheap rates and provide immigrants are willing to flood in and be “packed to the rafters”.

    Eventually something is going to go wrong with our febt-fuelled economy and then we may well have some real troubles with our diverse ethnicities.

    This is uncharted territory. I am not overly confident that liberal elites know what they are doing.

  • 6
    invig
    June 5th, 2009 18:38

    Catallaxy has a good piece pointing the finger at poor incentive structures for Victorian Police.

    Makes a lot of sense. Personally, I feel I have missed the ball on the this one. Its not about blacks. Not about racism. Its about poor policing and a vulnerable part of our (student, immigrant) population.

    Although I do agree with Jack that there is an experiment going on with little thought for the problems it may cause.

  • 7
    john malpas
    June 7th, 2009 12:03

    This is all preparing to duplicate the UK experience. ‘Migrants’ from countries that have no affinity with second generation Australians will be brought in by the boatload – particularly from Africa and particularly from muslim groups.
    Any dissent at all will be promptly and aggressively be punished. The word ‘racist’ will be used ad lib. Children will be arrested if they want to play with English speaking children.
    As I say it has already happened under Nu-labor In the UK.