What Can Hate Crimes Tell Us About Justice?
Roz Myers, Criminal Justice
Faculty Advisor: Jock Young
The way society understands “justice” is reflected in the public discourse, political debate, and media coverage of crime, particularly crimes that involve assaults on members of minority out-groups, notably, the LGBT community, racial minorities, and non-Christian religious groups. Members of these groups are especially vulnerable to victimization motivated by “hate” or bias. The most recent development in criminal law related to these vulnerable populations is the concept of “hate crimes,” codified under state and federal anti-bias legislation since 1981. My project at the New Media Lab is an extension of my dissertation research, which examines the cultural landscape in which the concept of “hate crimes” has emerged. This label is a relatively new term used to describe the same violent behavior against minority populations that occurred before the label existed. The research explores such questions as, Why now? What is new about our understanding of the role of law and the goals of justice that created the backdrop for hate crime legislation? To answer these questions, this project takes an historical comparative look at three paradigmatic types of crime (lynching, rape, and attacks in places of worship) occurring since the civil rights era. Using case comparisons, the research attempts to understand the nature of justice by explaining the way we make meaning of violent crime and intolerance, and the legal protections given to individual identity, groups association, and personal freedom. A digital timeline will host historical data, including text (news reports, congressional records, case transcripts), imagery (archival photos, videos), and sound (archival radio broadcasts). The case-study dyads will be expressed in digital form to track the changes in the public discourse and the larger cultural framework that has contributed to society’s intolerance for violent bias-crime.