by Joan Smith
Tuesday, 7
December 2021
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17:28

Don’t make misogyny a hate crime

The state should focus on violence against women — not hurt feelings
by Joan Smith
Credit: Getty

Here is a little-known fact: in the last year, there were 10,679 prosecutions for hate crime in England and Wales, leading to 9,263 convictions. It is a strikingly high success rate, especially when compared to the figures for rape. According to the most recent statistics, 61,158 rapes were reported to the police in 2020-21, but there were only 1,557 prosecutions — and a mere 1,109 convictions.

Now some commentators are up in arms because the Law Commission, an independent body that recommends changes to the law, has rejected a proposal to make misogyny a hate crime. Many women, however, are relieved that the commission hasn’t given in to lobbying. While superficially appealing, the change would not tackle the central problem, which is the staggering failure of police and prosecutors to enforce existing laws.

Another problem with making misogyny a hate crime is that some people who argue for the change are explicit in saying that protection should apply to trans women — male-bodied individuals who identify as women. They are already covered by existing hate crime legislation, where transgender identity is a protected characteristic, so this seems more like an attempt to change the legal definition of the word ‘woman’ than anything else. What a change in the law would do is open up a new front in the war on gender critical women, who would be the target of vexatious complaints from trans activists.

The Law Commission is aware of the risk and has proposed giving legal protection to gender critical views, such as the belief (biological reality, to be more accurate) that humans cannot change sex. It says something about the state we’re in that such views even need to be protected, but would it extend to someone who refuses to use female pronouns in court for the trans-identified male accused of raping her? Or a woman doing the same on social media?

The answer is far from clear, not least because the Law Commission has made an additional proposal that laws against ‘stirring up hatred’ should be extended to cover ‘sex or gender’ as well as race, religion and sexual orientation. Such offences are entirely subjective and very likely to have a chilling effect on free speech. Only last month, police investigated Crystal Palace fans who unfurled a banner criticising human rights abuses by Saudi Arabia during a match with Newcastle United, which had just been bought by Saudi investors. 

The case was quickly dropped, but experience from other countries shows how nebulous offences can be misused. Also last month, the Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk was put under investigation again for supposedly insulting the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, in his latest novel. I attended a hearing in a similar case against Pamuk in Istanbul in 2005, a period when writers and academics faced months of investigation — and racked up substantial lawyers’ fees. Few went to prison but the investigation became the punishment in such cases. That’s what happened to a Scottish woman, Marion Millar, earlier this year; she had to crowd-fund her legal fees after being accused of posting ‘transphobic’ content online, and faced months of anxious waiting before the case was dropped.

It is surely time to think again about the entire concept of hate crime. Thousands of actual crimes are going unpunished, including rape and domestic violence, while the police use valuable resources to investigate subjective ‘offences’. They may find it easier to get results — the figures certainly suggest as much — but some very dangerous offenders are going free to commit further attacks. If the state is serious about tacking misogyny, investigating violence against women — not hurt feelings — should be the priority.

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Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
6 months ago

As far as “hate crimes” are concerned, I’m with Gene Hunt (from Life on Mars for those who remember) when he replies to Sam Tyler who is looking at a murder as a “hate crime”:
“What, as opposed to one of those I-really-really-like-you sort of murders?”

There may be some possible justification for a “hate crime” label if you believe a certain type of crime will destabilise society, for example terrorist attacks, but on the whole if a crime has been committed it’s a crime. Adding a “hate crime” label to a crime implies that certain groups of people are more important than others, and before the law we are all equal.

My other concern is that non-crimes morph into “hate crimes”, and then suddenly are crimes. A very dangerous shift, which is already happening. So, instead of making misogyny a “hate crime” we should be campaigning to get rid of the label completely.

Last edited 6 months ago by Linda Hutchinson
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
6 months ago

Agree entirely.

James Joyce
James Joyce
6 months ago

The West–and this does not include Turkey–has lost its mind. The examples cited here are almost beyond 1984. I expect Erdogan to be repressive–that’s the nature of his Turkey. But the UK? An investigation into a sign condemning Saudi Arabia. Are you daft?
And isn’t some lad in prison over “racially abusing” a footballer online? I think it’s dumb, I wouldn’t do it, but it should never, ever be a crime. Only a sick and repressive society would punish it as such.
Can we stop with this nonsense about “hate speech?” Steve Hughes the comedian talks about this in a very libertarian way and he’s spot on. If you’re offended, be offended. So what?
Grow up and show a little resiliency.

Mary Garner
Mary Garner
6 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Just a point There are now thousands in prison on Turkey
Little is publicised here I have got to know many Turkish refugees teachers cheers of police judges lawyers doctors.
Crime can be a tweet or having a bank account or having taught in a certain school or being part of Gulan movement.
As Harry Miller is spot on about the hate crime non crime in danger of committing a criminal rubbish
Checking thinking

Last edited 6 months ago by Mary Garner
AC Harper
AC Harper
6 months ago

I am not in favour of any ‘hate’ crimes. Mostly because the recognition of ‘hate’ is how it is received, not how it is intended.
Now people do say nasty things to each other, but also some people over-react to the most anodyne statement. Sometimes to score a social or political point which is in their head not the speaker’s.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
6 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

I hate some things – I believe it is my right to say so. I hate the sick and degenerate woke, Post-Modernist, philosophy, and should be able to express that, as it deserves the hate of anyone who hates evil.

Last edited 6 months ago by Galeti Tavas
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
6 months ago

As the statistics quoted in this article illustrate the whole concept of hate crimes is one of misdirection. If you can’t solve real serious crimes you invent another category of crimes that you frame to be easy to solve but trivial in order to improve the perception of your crime figures.
The fact that time spent solving “hurt feelings” crimes or crimes against special categories takes the police away from solving real crimes against the bulk of the population doesn’t matter. You have demonstrated how much you care about solving crime.
if hate crimes is extended to all of us who have a sex or gender it would render the point of the exercise redundant serving to misdirect more police effort to tick boxes but not improving the statistics.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
6 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

It was recently reported that a large group of villagers in Pakistan lynched and burnt alive a Thai factory manager for wishing to tidy up the workplace from stickers presumably including selections from the Koran and hence dishonouring the Prophet.
I have no hate for them as they were clearly in the grip of a deluded religious belief in behaving in such a barbaric manner, but I do think it is dangerous if anyone voicing a desire that such people should not settle in the UK in more vigorous terms than I would employ risk having their collar felt by the thought police.
To avoid any doubt on the point I would add that there are plenty of Muslims who would not behave in such a manner – I certainly don’t tar all Muslims as eager to behave in a similar manner.

Aldo Maccione
Aldo Maccione
6 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

that fact that you feel the need to add this “disclaimer” at the end of your comment proves how far the thought police has already managed to extend its power on speech.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
6 months ago

THIS IS WHAT YOU GET WHEN THE FAS* IST LEFT GETS POWER. 1984 – Newspeak

Newspeak is the fictional language of Oceania, a totalitarian superstate that is the setting of dystopian novel 1984, by George Orwell. In the novel, the Party created Newspeak 309  to meet the ideological requirements of English Socialism in Oceania. Newspeak is a controlled language of simplified grammar and restricted vocabulary designed to limit the individual’s ability to think and articulate “subversive” concepts such as personal identity, self-expression and free will. Such concepts are criminalized as thoughtcrime since they contradict the prevailing Ingsoc orthodoxy”

First something must be a crime, then you can qualify it with words like Hate. This makes the qualifier the Crime! This is Insane, this is Fas* ism! This is the war of the Post Modernist Neo-Marxists against the West winning another major battle! This is the West being eaten up by paracites.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
6 months ago

Hate crime is Thought Crime.

All categories should be abolished.

It’s hard to sympathise with objections that only arise when they eventually, inevitably, come for the Wrong People.

Oh dear me, we never saw *that* coming!

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
6 months ago

To adapt the Stonewall message advertised on buses: “Some people are misogynist and some misandrist: Get over it!
Feeling hate is not a choice. We are all born with certain proclivities – being gay is one, the proclivity to feel hate is another. The important thing is that our hate does not lead us to to commit crimes. That is where the red line has to be drawn.

Last edited 6 months ago by Jeremy Bray
Chris Mochan
Chris Mochan
6 months ago

The ‘stirring up hatred’ phrase is found in the recent Scottish Hate Crime Bill too. It’s meaning is vague and open to manipulation which is, I think, precisely the point.

Richard Goodall
Richard Goodall
6 months ago
Reply to  Chris Mochan

Don’t get me started on that. ” stirring up hatred” means whatever it needs to mean for the purpose of shutting people up.

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
6 months ago

Everyone should always be super nice to everyone- as long as it’s the kind of niceness laid down by the Magisterium.

Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
6 months ago

In San Francisco things have not yet reached the point where the police knock on the door if you write something hurtful on the internet, but they also aren’t arresting shoplifters unless their booty exceeds a thousand dollars. One wonders how they spend their days, actually.

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
6 months ago

Hate crime, to the extent it should exist at all, should apply to all victims of crime, where it is provable that the motive of the perpetrator was based of some aspect of the victims identity. It should not apply to only a chosen few and certainly should not be based upon unproven subjective, often malicious, claims about the perpetrators motives.