A hate crime is any kind of criminal act where the perpetrator is motivated by prejudice against the victim’s race, religion or sexuality. Some hate crimes involve actual physical acts of violence, whereas others can be as seemingly trivial as someone posting something online. The term ‘hate crime’ encompasses a broad range of acts and the exact definition of what a hate crime is isn’t exactly set, so the term as banded about quite often. Of course, there are genuine acts fuelled by prejudice that can most definitely be classes as hate crimes or internet hate crimes, but then there are much lesser acts that are given the same term. Online hate crimes can range from something as terrible as murder to something as simple as a Tweet saying you don’t like the look of fat people, for example.
In recent years there’s been an uprise in the number of hate crimes being committed and investigated. The number of online hate crimes in particular has soared. People feel comfortable hiding behind a computer and think that they have free reign to type whatever they like online as there won’t be any consequences. However, a growing number of people have found themselves suffering real-life consequences for things they’ve posted online. Earlier this year, for example, several people in Greater Manchester were arrested for comments they’d posted online about the New Zealand shootings.
Is it wrong for the police to focus on this type of crime? That is to say, the act of someone posting something online that someone somewhere finds offensive. It is indeed wrong for the police to be going after perpetrators of so-called hate crimes. They should instead be focusing their attention on actual crimes, i.e. acts that involve things like theft and violence. Of course, there are some genuine hate crimes, but these days it seems that lots of trivial acts are classified as hate crimes and duly investigated, when there are other more serious, more pressing crimes that should be getting investigated instead. Anyone can read something they don’t like online, label it a hate crime and run to the authorities. Too many people these days are overly sensitive. They see something they don’t like and instead of taking it on the chin or ignoring it altogether, they want to play the victim, act offended, get sympathy and have the person who wrote the offending material punished.
The police haven’t got the time or the resources to investigate every single possible hate crime case that comes their way. Sure, they’ll take on genuine, serious cases, but there are so many trivial cases that aren’t worth investigating at all. The police can’t focus on hate crimes simply because the loose definition of hate crime has resulted in all manner of trivial acts being classified as such. The police shouldn’t be going after someone who posted something mean about foreigners online. Instead, the police should be going after the gangs that are committing violent acts and hurting or even killing others.
So to sum up, it’s common for someone to get offended and label something they’ve read online a hate crime. The problem is that far too many incidents are being labelled as hate crimes, when really the label should only be reserved for the few genuine incidents. The police should always focus on actual, real-life crimes, not incidents where someone’s upset by something they’ve seen online. People shouldn’t be getting arrested for posting stuff online when there are thieves, murderers, rapists and other criminals who are much more deserving of a place in prison.