As it now seems to be applied in most cases it is irrational, but there is a situation where the concept is a useful one:Stu wrote:The whole notion of a "hate crime" has no rational basis so far as I can tell,
Suppose someone claims freedom of speech to induce in others a hatred of a minority group (without directly inciting them to do anything about it - which is already illegal in the U.K.); then one of the more stupid followers becomes sufficiently indoctrinated as to commit a crime based on that doctrine. Should the person who induced the hatred get away with it while the stupid follower takes all the blame? It would be very difficult to pin anything on them under the previous laws, but the crime of 'hate speech' seems to plug that loophole.
If I were beaten up in the street, whether it was because of the colour of my hair or because I am transgender, I would want the law to take the same action as they would in any other similar case. The problem until recently has been that the police have taken the attitude that anyone who is visibly trangender (or could be mistaken for transgender because of their clothing or appearance) is just 'asking for it' and deserves anything they get. By making hate crime recordable separately from an ordinary punch-up, a strong message has been sent to the police that they will no longer be able to dismiss certain types of crime by blaming the victim. It's not the right way to do it, but it does seem to be having an effect.