Julie Burchill

When is a hate crime not a hate crime?

When is a hate crime not a hate crime?
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I’ve always been somewhat bemused by the concept of ‘hate crime’ - a phrase which first came into use in the US in the 1980s and into practice in the UK in 1998. I must say that the idea that it is somehow worse to beat up or kill someone because you object to their race or religion, than because you’re a nasty piece of work who felt like beating up or killing someone, strikes me as quite extraordinary - hateful, even, implying that some lives are worth more than others. Are we not all human, do we not all bleed? If we’re murdered, do not those who love us grieve for us equally? Why, then, are attacks on some thought to be worse than attacks on others? Indeed, the book Hate Crimes: Criminal Law and Identity Politics claims that hate crime legislation may exacerbate conflict, upholding the idea that crimes are committed by members of groups rather than by individuals, thereby inflaming intolerance between different ethnic communities.

Nevertheless, in a dark twist on Alice In Wonderland’s all-must-have-prizes shtick, gay people were added soon afterwards. Then, obviously realising that it was somewhat stupid to deem an attack on a big strapping man who was more than capable of standing up for himself worse than an attack on a frail, heterosexual OAP, the elderly were added in 2007 to the list of people who it’s especially bad to attack or kill. This being the case, quite understandably the disabled were soon eligible to be victims of hate crime, too.

It’s very easy for me to be offensive about anything, so I’ll tread very carefully here. I do think that there is something particularly vile about picking on those with far less chance of fighting back and that those who do it should be dealt with particularly harshly. On the other hand, I don’t think that 'hate' usually comes into attacks on the elderly and the disabled, or on children - simply the very unpleasant fact that sadists, cowards and bullies know they are easy targets. In fact, they probably like this about them.

It’s also quite hard for me to understand how those who claim, and have their champions claim, to be the most chronic and vulnerable victims of hate crimes are Muslims. If you visited this country from another planet, all the ceaseless clatter about hate crimes of the Islamophobic kind might have you believing that a brace of Muslims a week were being butchered in the street due to the sheer molten hatred of the blood-thirsty Christian community. Whereas, in fact, Islamist terrorism kills eight times more Muslims than non-Muslims. In this country, three Muslims have been killed for being Muslims over the past three years - all by other Muslims.

Certain sections of the Muslim community seem to veer between rather hysterical extremes of victorhood and victimhood. Cry Bullies, if you will - one moment carrying banners telling us that Sharia law will rule us soon - and the next crying to 'Tell Mama', the organisation which measures anti-Muslim attacks. Somewhat embarrassingly, a recent Freedom of Information request by a Sikh organisation found that of 400 anti-Muslim 'hate crimes' recorded in the first half of last year, 28 per cent were not on Muslims at all. But I have nothing against statistics which tell us how many Muslims are attacked by hate-criming Islamophobes each year, so long as we also get the numbers on how many Muslims attacked their own people - especially in so-called 'honour crimes' which are actually hate crimes of the most cowardly kind, committed on defenceless young girls by one or more fully-grown men.

Attacks on women generally, of course, which always have a solid core of two dead women a week murdered by partners or ex-partners, are not recorded as hate crimes. On the contrary, if there has been a sexual relationship at any point between killer and victim, what could be cosier than calling it a 'domestic', making braining someone sound on a par with putting the kettle on? I was shocked to find out recently that three in ten women are regularly attacked by their own children - everything from biting tots to arm-breaking teenagers. Family Lives, a parents support charity, reports that cases of hapless mums attacked by their brats almost doubled to 40,000 last year - yet no one calls these hate crimes, either.

An exception, interestingly, are trans-women, who can claim to be victims of hate crimes in a way born women cannot, even though, by the look of some of them, they’d have no trouble flattening a gang of thugs without breaking sweat. Oh, and of course it’s not a hate crime when Corbynite trolls threaten Angela Eagle with death threats for daring to stand, albeit briefly, against the Glorious Leader, because the Left are incapable of hate, in thought, word or deed. Meanwhile in Pakistan - recipient of millions of pounds in aid from this country each year - the mother-of-five, Christian Asia Bibi, is due to be hanged for the apparent crime of drinking from the same cup of water as fellow workers who were Muslims, thus 'defiling' it. How truly shocking that Britain should be a chief benefactor to a regime which is about to commit one of the vilest hate crimes of all time, while preaching so primly about it back at home.