In the early hours of Sunday, a man walked round central Birmingham stabbing people. He killed a 23-year-old man, inflicted critical injuries on two other people and wounded five more. The police were accused of hanging about nervously in cars instead of getting out and tackling the man. Later, Supt Steve Graham gave a press conference. He could not yet say much, he warned, but he could confidently assert that there was ‘absolutely no suggestion at this point that this was in any way, shape or form, motivated by hate’.
The stabbings had not been aimed at gay people, but had been ‘random’. So that’s all right. Supt Graham seemed to be proffering a new category — deliberate, fatal attacks which are not motivated by hate. What are they motivated by, then? And why, if in some strange way, shape or form, they are not motivated by hate, are they ‘better’ than fatal stabbings which are?
The acts are just as intentional, the victims just as dead or wounded. The word ‘hate’, in the criminal context, now officially refers only to hatred of minority groups such as BAME or LGBT. This gravely limits its meaning. Hate lies behind almost every violent act committed against the innocent — gay, straight; black, white; male, female; young, old. All such hate should be seen as equivalent, morally and in law.
This article is an extract from Charles Moore's Spectator Notes, available in this week's magazine.