06.07.2011 10:14 AM

Hate crimes up in Canada

Attacks on Jews and Arabs (and West Asians) are up substantially, according to this depressing report.

Why?  Well, I’ve written a couple books on this subject, and – generally – whenever the economy is down, these acts of hate become more frequent.  That is the biggest factor, far above government policy or international crises.

As a society, we clearly need to condemn hate crime, and work together to end it.  Dismissing hate as “hurt feelings,” or trotting out specious arguments about free speech, only serve to make a bad situation worse, in my opinion.

We have work to do.  Time to do it.


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    Bruce M says:

    Warren, you’ve written books on the subject and you see a correlation between economic downturns and increases in hate crimes, yet you call for restrictions on free speech. You’ve identified a causality, at least to your satisfaction, and then completely ignore it. I might as well identify hot weather as a cause and then call for more Canadian radio content.

    And isn’t free speech, even by morons, the best way to let the steam out of the kettle? Engage them, confront them, identify and beat them? I have faith in my convictions.

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      Robin says:

      I agree with the principle of your last point, but it’s very, very difficult to ‘engage them, confront them’ when you are the minority and the target of pernicious hate. Free speech is not enjoyed equally. In the market place of ideas, being a numerical minority means you’ll always lose. It is a market in need of regulation.

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      ottawacon says:

      While I am generally in favour of free speech and cautious on hate speech laws, I really must question the steam kettle analogy. It does way too much work, and there is very little to suggest that community relations and temperature-pressure vessels behave it at all a similar fashion. It would seem to impede rather than assist thinking about the problem.

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    Inge says:

    Could the official and unofficial political hate campaigns in the last 5+ years also have something to do with this? Even if they did not create the climate, they certainly did not help. And does freedom of speech extend to calling a person of European extraction “Eurotrash”, as found in the blogosphere in the G&M? The person in question is a well-known public figure, but having immigrated from Europe myself, I took that rather personally. The person’s husband, although a Canadian, ended up with the label “Euro-Marxist” by the way. Charming.

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    Lipman says:

    Interestingly, buried in the original article is a disturbing fact: that Black Canadians continue to suffer from more hate crimes than any other group. Next time a short, angry woman appears anywhere online or on a publicly-funded tv show ranting about black crime, it would be worth noting this.

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    M says:

    Sorry, I’m not willing to sacrifice my freedom to speak or hear crazytalk for fear of the actions of the weak-minded. That’s… err, crazytalk.

    Second, I don’t accept that the “police-reported hate crime” statistic is a reliable indicator of the prevalence of actual “hate crimes” (at least in the cross-burning/Matthew Shepherd sense of the term). According to the study, an instance of a “hate crime” occurs when one of these four criminal code offences are charged: advocating genocide, public incitement of hatred, wilful promotion of hatred and mischief in relation to religious property. The study notes at the outset:

    “Data from a subset of police services covering half of the country shows that the increase in police-reported hate crimes in 2009 occurred largely among non-violent offences, predominantly mischief (e.g. graffiti, vandalism to religious property) which accounted for more than half (54%) of all hate crime incidents in 2009 (Chart 2).9”

    And as the study goes on to note, very few of the above charges ever make it to court. This might be for a number of reasons. It might reflect an absense of evidence (which would undermine the purported existence of the hate crime) or it may reflect recognition that the criminal law is an expensive and blunt instrument that’s ill-equipped to punish the morons spray-painting swastikas. I’m guessing most of these charges are appropriately diverted for the purpose of sparing court resources.

    In my view, the headlines screaming “HATE CRIMES UP” vastly overestimate the actual social problem and give the impression that roaming Skinheads and Klansmen are making a serious comeback. I think the more benign reality could be that police are increasingly conscious of the “hate crime” provisions in the Criminal Code and are using them as a policing tool.

    In the circumstances, I’m surprised we’re only talking about 1500 reported offences. In a country with an extremely diverse population of 30 million, I think we’re doing ok.

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    Brammer says:

    When the Canadian government is so blatantly biased to one side in the middle East, it has the effect of entrenching the views of Canadians who may otherwise favour a balance approach.

    The results of Leadership by (poor) example, the middle ground lost.

    I am not excusing hate crime, but don’t expect it to decrease with the PMO’s with us / against us approach.

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