Unfortunately, equality between different racial and demographic groups is still not quite a reality in the United States. Prejudices still exist within some people, and sometimes these strong feelings can incite them to perform violent and unjust acts against members of the group that they dislike. These crimes are not just a violation of civil rights; they are also, by definition, criminal acts. Anyone who has been a victim of a hate crime deserves justice.
Hate crimes have been in existence for years, all over the world. United States hate crimes initially were performed against Native Americans, and as the years passed, the targets of these repulsive acts evolved to encompass other racial minorities, most notably African Americans. In modern society, assaults are made against other demographic groups, such as homosexual and transgender people.
In 1990, the Hate Crime Statistics Act was passed by Congress to allow the government to tally and keep track of the number of these incidents that occur annually. In 2007, over 9,000 of these incidences were reported. Over half of the reported incidents were aimed at a specific racial group. Obviously, this is still a serious issue, even in today’s society.
People are still divided on the issue of whether or not our country needs hate crime laws. Some opponents claim that some of these laws are violations of the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech; others believe that these laws will work to divide our society. Those who support the laws feel as though hate crimes are intolerable acts that send discriminatory and intolerable messages to all members of a particular racial or religious group.