Research Summary #1

Tamara L Roleff’s article focuses on the need for stronger enforcements of hate crime laws. She states that unlike other crimes, hate crimes in particular cause greater damage to the victims because “they are intended to terrorize as well as physically harm the individual.” In addition, she also notes that not only do the victims of hate crime experience “longer-lasting psychological impact than other crimes,” society is also affected by these violent crimes. Because of their damaging effects on not only individuals but also as society as a whole, there is a need for laws to discourage hate crimes. Roleff believes that “because of the devastating effect of hate crimes on both the victim and society, those who commit hate crimes should receive stiffer sentences than other criminals.”

Roleff builds her argument through examples of previous hate crimes, what damages hate crimes can cause, and what a hate crime law can encompass to protect individuals. Through the various examples that Roleff provided, she has shown that the similarity among the hate crime incidents is that “the victims were chosen only because they were black, white, Asian, Jewish, or gay.” However, these victims were not the only ones affected by the assaults; members of their communities were also traumatized because the purpose of these hate crimes “is to threaten and terrorize not only the individual but the victim’s entire minority group.” This becomes a national problem. To overcome this problem, Roleff thinks that hate crime committers should receive stricter sentences to “send a message to racists and bigots that society will not tolerate crimes that are committed because of the victim’s race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.” However, many other hate crime victims today are not being attacked because of race but also because of their “basis of gender, sexual orientation, and disability,” hence there is a need to “expand the definition of what groups should be protected from hate crimes.” Roleff believes that hate crimes can escalate to become a national problem. Her goal is to advocate for laws that will discourage hate crimes and give the government the ability to protect the people and prevent a national problem.

Roleff’s stand is that there needs to be greater law enforcements to prevent and discourage hate crimes. Hate crimes are no longer limited to race and color, but also one’s sexuality. These crimes not only affect individuals but also society and societal views. A message has to be sent that society does not accept any forms of hatred and the first step in preventing any further hate crimes is stricter punishments to prove disapproval.

Works Cited

“Hate Crime Laws Are Necessary.” Hate Groups. Ed. Tamara L. Roleff. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2001. Opposing Viewpoints Digests. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 18 Sept. 2013.


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