Are hate crimes motivated by hate?

My latest article at MercatorNet began as a serious self-examination.

A reader had accused me of writing articles that contribute to, or validate, homophobia in the broader community and hence hate crimes.

This despite my articles also disavowing hate crimes, violence, and animosity.  The conclusion seems to be one cannot even dissent reasonably and in good faith from LGBT narratives, constructs and goals without being implicated in atrocities like Orlando.

But I wanted to be sure, so I applied the principles of formal and material cooperation in evil to the problem. Along the way, I found some surprising research into the motivations behind anti-gay violence.

the popular view is that hate crimes must be motivated by hate. Our folk psychology tells us that it takes a small amount of animosity and prejudice to say something rude or demeaning about homosexuality, a fortiori those who commit violent anti-gay assault and even murder must be driven by proportionately greater animosity and prejudice.

Instead Franklin’s research suggests that animosity and prejudice are, at best, incomplete descriptors of anti-gay violence. If people can commit anti-gay violence while being self-professed supporters of gay rights, then the popular understanding of anti-gay violence must be flawed.

2 thoughts on “Are hate crimes motivated by hate?

  1. Hi Zac,

    That’s a touchy subject that one! I find that people who have an activist type of approach as opposed to a more intellectual/observational approach will tend to react that way. It’s an “if you’re not with us then you’re against us” type of mentality (similarly “if you’re not part of the solution then you’re part of the problem”). Talking about formal/material cooperation instead of hitting the streets and flying the flag for LGBT (or against it) will just annoy them even more! Makes it hard to remain neutral on these types of issues.

    • Thanks Matthew.
      I think I did annoy them a little, but they seemed (by omission) to accept by the end of it that anti-gay violence is not directly caused by anti-gay animosity. Instead they changed targets to “cultural hostility”.

      Unfortunately activism attracts people who prefer (by their own admission) to act rather than to think. There seems to be a corresponding prejudice that philosophical questions are part of an idle pastime, when really we all “know” what needs to be done.

      The non-thinkers are also unable or unwilling to recognise that the logical extension of their argument is indeed the denial of neutrality. At the moment one of my more trenchant critics is trying to call me out for failing to clearly state a position that conforms to her expectations of anti-gay sentiment…. I think I wrote something about it five or so years ago: if you assume that all opposition is motivated by irrational hate and fear then there’s really no room for argument in good faith.

      They tried to argue that “good faith” argumentation is invalid because of the supposed real world consequences – that my extremely mild dissent is contributing to violence. The research I cited has severely weakened that claim. It remains to be seen if it will force them to soften their position in the longer term.

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