Friday, March 07, 2003

Faking the Hate
In the wake of the alleged assault on a UVa student council candidate and the questions over whether the attack was real, Erin O'Connor chronicles some instances of faked hate crimes on college campuses here. Allegations of hate crimes take on a certain significance in our society, to the degree that we accept the charge as true on their face. Before we have even heard evidence we have already decided that someone is guilty. It is an understandable impulse given the damage these types of crimes do to society from both a material perspective as well as a psychological one. No one wants to believe that s/he will be singled out for violence because of his/her sexuality, gender, race or religion. Such actions are abhorrent to our notions of a just society. And since these crimes are so inimical to our standards of decency, we react in a strong visceral way. It is unfortunate that some people have capitalized on the goodness of others in order to advance their own political or social agenda.


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