Hate Crime Offenders

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    • 00:00


    • 00:09

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD: Hi.I am Phyllis Gerstenfeld.I'm a professor of criminal justice at California StateUniversity, Stanislaus.And today, I'm going to be talking about hate crimeoffenders.The main points I'm going to get to talk to you about today--one of the most important things for you to understandis going to be that most people who commit hate crimes don'tbelong to hate groups.

    • 00:29

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: And that's a misconception that a lot of people have.So we'll be talking about that.A second thing we'll be talking about todayis some of the typologies of hate crime offendersthat people have talked about.And so we'll be going through some of those.And then finally, we'll be talking about someof the factors that affect hate crime offending.

    • 00:53

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: So to begin with, I think a lot of people,when they think about hate crime offenders,they picture people in white hoods,or skinheads, or something like that.And the reality is the vast majorityof people who commit hate crimes don't belongto any organized hate groups.It's estimated that probably 95% of hate crimesare committed by people who don'tbelong to any of those groups.

    • 01:13

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: Now, that doesn't mean that the groups aren't important,because the things that they say on the internet, the propagandathat they publish, the music that theydistribute, those kinds of thingscan certainly affect everybody, and may influence people whoeventually commit hate crimes.But again, most of the people actually committing the crimesaren't formal members of these groups.

    • 01:36

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: Hate groups recruit people to belong to them.And they recruit pretty actively,because their membership turns over pretty quickly.People either are drawn out of these hate groupsby circumstances in their life, like they get jobs,or they go to jail, or they have kidsand decide that maybe their priorities need some adjusting.

    • 01:58

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: So they leave.Some of them leave because they become unhappywith the goals of the hate groups.A lot of them don't get along well with other people.[LAUGHTER]And so they leave and go off and create their own hate groups.So because of that, hate groups tend to recruit pretty heavily.And they tend to focus their recruitson people who are disaffected, people who don't belong much

    • 02:23

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: in society, who don't have a lot of connections in society,oftentimes young people, high school students or collegestudents.And there's also a lot of different hate groups.And we'll talk about some of the typologies of hate groups.So again, it's really important to talkabout who commits hate groups, because a lot of peoplehave a lot of misunderstandings about this.And if we don't understand who's committing these crimes,

    • 02:45

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: then we won't be able to effectively have policiesto combat the hate crimes.So the typical offender, the typical hate crime offender,is young.He's male.The majority of hate crime offenders are male.

    • 03:06

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: Most of them are white.Most of them are young.They're in their late teens, early 20s.Most of them don't have a significant criminal history.Most of them don't come from really terrible backgrounds.A lot of them come from middle class, or working classbackgrounds.And they, as I said, they don't belongto organized hate groups.

    • 03:27

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: And so they're really not all thatdifferent from ordinary people.Criminologists, Levin and McDevitt,did some studies, primarily in the Boston area.And they looked at people who were committing hate crimes.And they came up with a typology of hate crime offendersthat a lot of people have found really helpful.And under their typology, they said

    • 03:48

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: the most common type of hate crime offenderare what they call thrill seekers.And thrill seekers are people almost always acting in groups,although they're not formal gangs, or organized groups.And what they're doing is looking for excitement.They're looking to impress one another.They're looking for something to do.And that's their primary motivation.And according to Levin and McDevitt's research, and some

    • 04:11

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: of the other research that's been done,those are by far the most common kinds of hate crime offenders.The second type of offender that Levin and McDevitt talked aboutare defensive offenders.And these are people who are reactingto what they see as an intrusion on their territory.So what it often is, is they're livingin an all white neighborhood, and a black person

    • 04:33

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: maybe moves into their neighborhood,or even just walks through their neighborhood.And because of their biases, they view this as an intrusion.And they react.The third kind of hate crime offenderthat Levin and McDevitt talked aboutare retaliatory offenders.And these are people who feel that they've been wronged,

    • 04:53

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: or some member of their group has been wronged.And they're going to get back at the other membersof that group.So maybe they hear that some member of their groupwas attacked by another group, so they go out and find,not necessarily the specific peoplewho they think offended to begin with, but membersof the same group.So this can really create a lot of intergroup tension,as people keep retaliating back and forth.

    • 05:14

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: And then the final kind of hate crime offenderthat Levin and McDevitt talked about are mission offenders.And these are the rarest kind.And these are people who have a goalto wipe out a certain type of people from the world.So they're going to look for African Americans,or whoever it is that they're after.And they go out looking for them.So recently, there was a case in the Kansas City area,

    • 05:35

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: where a man went to a Jewish community center.And he was specifically looking for Jews,and shot and killed three people, none of whom turned outto be Jewish.But he was on a mission.He had a long history.He actually had a history with hate crime groupsthat went back a long time.So he's a mission offender.But those are pretty rare.

    • 05:58

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: Why do people commit hate crimes?There's not as much research on this,perhaps as there could be.But what we can pull out of that isthat there's some factors that seemto influence most offenders.And one of them, probably one of the primary factorsin most of these cases, is looking for excitementand to impress peers.So we have young people who are out therewith a group of friends.

    • 06:19

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: They want to look tough, maybe.They want to impress their friends.And they're looking for somethingto get the adrenaline going, and violence, or vandalism,or other things-- is a way for them to do it.So that's probably one of the primary motivators, whichI think would surprise a lot of people,that it's that and not prejudice, specifically.A second thing that a lot of research has suggested

    • 06:42

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: is really a major factor is young men's desireto prove their masculinity.So you have young men who want to provethat they're a man, which is a hard thing to do in society.How do you prove that you're a real man?And in our culture, we tend to equate violence, in many cases,with masculinity.And so for a lot of these men, being violent

    • 07:03

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: is a way to prove that they're a real man.And this can help us maybe understand why so many hatecrimes are committed against LGBT people,because what more masculine is it,if you're really not gay, if you'reoffending against gay people?So proving masculinity is probably a big part of it.A third factor that probably plays a lot,

    • 07:24

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: is people feeling that their power has been threatened.I don't think it's an accident that the white supremacistmovement refers to itself as white power movement.And when people feel that their power, their place in society,has been threatened, they take actions.So historically, one of the exampleswhere we saw this happening was whenthe first hate group in America was created

    • 07:45

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: were the Ku Klux Klan.It was right after the Civil War when white Southerners,suddenly, they weren't slave owners anymore.And they needed to create this.They felt they needed to create this organized groupto maintain their power.And they did.So certainly that's a factor as well.And as we see in many places, increased immigration,

    • 08:06

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: and increased diversity, a lot of peoplefeel that they're threatened.And then finally, another factor that affects offendingis prejudice.And it can be prejudice of all kinds.All of us have prejudices, whether we like to admit themor not.And there's a lot of research thatshows that we're affected by those prejudices, even when wetry not to, even when we make a conscious effort not to do it.

    • 08:29

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: It can be very difficult. And so we absorb informationfrom all sorts of places, from the media, from our friends,from our family.And that comes out in prejudices.And that can color how we interact with other people.

    • 08:50

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: I mentioned already that although most people who commithate crimes don't belong to hate groups, certainly,the things that hate groups say can affect all of us.So hate groups tend to try and publishwhat they have to say really widely.Hate groups were some of the first very early users

    • 09:10

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: of the internet.Back when nobody had heard of the world wide web,they were using these discussion boards.You had to call in on a modem.And you could post messages.And other people could do it.And it allowed communication between like minded peopleall over the world, really.And since then, hate groups have continuedto use the internet really, really heavily.So they have websites, they've got podcasts,

    • 09:32

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: they've got games, and all sorts of multimedia,music, things which are easily available,not just to people in the United States, but people worldwide.And that's another important point to makeis that hate is an international thing.Some colleagues and I did a study some years ago now,and we found that about half of the hate

    • 09:53

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: groups that had websites had ties to international groups.So the internet allows a group in the United Statesto talk to a group in Australia, or somewhere else.And it allows some of these hate groupsto spread their rhetoric to new places.There are now clan groups in Australia,of all places, because they can easily

    • 10:13

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: get at the kinds of things that clan groups in the UnitedStates have to say.So international ties are important.And another thing that's really importantto keep in mind about hate groups,is over the past decade or so, that a lot of themhave made really strong efforts to not beperceived as hate groups.There are Klan groups who say, we're not a hate group.

    • 10:36

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: We don't hate anybody.We just love our own race.And a lot of these groups try to really cloak themselvesin respectability.They try to appear mainstream, sothat the messages that they have to saywill be more appealing to people.And many people may not even realize sometimesthat the messages they're gettingare coming from a hate group, because they can bereally masked in a lot of ways.

    • 11:02

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: As I mentioned before, as well, hate groups do recruit.Turnover is high, because people don't get alongwith each other.Members tend to be pushed out by circumstances,or pulled out by other kinds of circumstances.So they leave frequently.Or they leave to form their own groupsand have their own sorts of goals.

    • 11:23

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: And because of that, these groups recruit heavily.And how they recruit, they use the media a lot to recruit.So they use the internet.But they also use old fashioned forms of media like flyers.They'll post flyers in a neighborhoodwhere there's maybe already been some kindsof ethnic or racial unrest.They used to use the old public access cable TV shows a lot.

    • 11:48

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: But now they can use YouTube videos instead.So they use a lot of the different forms of media,and they're very good at keeping up with the current media.And who they tend to target, again,is people who feel disconnected.They're often young people.So they might be college students.I know on my campus, very occasionally,flyers and things have turned up on campus,

    • 12:09

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: because you get students who are away from school, or awayfrom home for the first time, maybe, away from friends,trying to decide where they belong in life.And it can be very disorienting.And these groups tend to look for those people.And what they offer them is a place to feel comfortable,a place to feel at home, just like all other social groupsdo on campus.So at the beginning of the semes--

    • 12:30

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: at the beginning of the year, my campus has a big fair,and all the clubs are out there trying to attract new people.And hate groups do the same thing.What's surprising to a lot of people about hate groupsis they don't start right off with the racist rhetoric.What they tend to do is offer social benefits.So they tell people, look, we'll be your friends.Here's a place you can hang out.Here are some people who you can feel comfortable with.

    • 12:53

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: And only once they've already made friends,once the new members have become a member of the group, that'swhen they start, when the older members start teaching them,I guess, their rhetoric and their propaganda.And so people don't tend to join these groupsbecause they're particularly racist or prejudice.They become that way after they've joined.

    • 13:18

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: Some people have said that it's useful to thinkabout different kinds of hate groups.Not all groups, necessarily, fit neatlyinto one of these categories.But it can be a useful thing, because there arereal differences between them.So the oldest hate group in the United Statesis the KKK, the Ku Klux Klan, which isn't really one group.

    • 13:39

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: It's a bunch of individual groupsthat call themselves the Klan.And sometimes they argue with each otherover who is the real Klan and who's not.Historically, the Klan began in the south.It spread to the Midwest.It's still primarily-- most of the Klan groupstend to be in more rural areas, and in the South and Midwest.And so that's one area.And, as I said, they're the oldest clan,

    • 14:01

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: the oldest organized hate group in the United States.A second organized group that we have in the United Statesare skinheads.And not all skinheads are racist.But some of them are.And the racist skinheads were actually--came to us as an import from England, in the 1980s.And skinheads tend to be younger than KKK.

    • 14:23

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: They tend to be more urban.And in some cases, their activitiesmay not be all that different from street gangs.They tend to be more violent, in many cases, than the Klanas well.We have neo-Nazis, who, some of those racist skinheadsare also neo-Nazi, but not all neo-Nazis are skinheads.And the neo-Nazis are people who believe in the Nazi ideology

    • 14:44

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: from Nazi Germany, from the 1930s and 40s.And they're scattered throughout the United States.We also have in the United States,the groups that call themselves either militia groups,or patriot groups.Now not all militia groups and patriot groups are racist.But some of them are.And what they have in common is they

    • 15:05

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: don't trust the federal government.They tend to believe that the federal government isrun by a conspiracy.A lot of them think it's part of the Jewish conspiracy,and that the Jewish conspiracy is using other minoritygroups for their benefit.And they don't trust the federal government.They would like all power to be at the local level.And as I said, not all of them are necessarily racist,

    • 15:26

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: but some of them are.And some of them have been violent.And they tend to be strongly in control,in favor of gun rights.And many of them have a lot of weapons available to them.So that can be problematic.Militia groups were popular in the 1980s.They died out in popularity after the Oklahoma City bombing

    • 15:47

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: in the early 90s, which was weaklytied to some militia groups.But they started becoming popular againwhen Obama was elected.And in fact, hate group membership in generalincreased after Obama was elected.So we've seen a resurgence in recent years.Another hate group ideology are nationalists.

    • 16:07

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: And this is a catch all category of peoplewho have a very narrow definition of whatit means to be American, or British, or Polish,or whatever country they happen to be in.And they believe that America should be for white Christians,for example.Some of them may be affiliated with someof these other groups.But they're not necessarily.

    • 16:27

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: So that's another group.And they often have ties with nationalist groupsin other countries.Then we have the Holocaust deniers.They're doing their thing.They tend not to be tied to these other groups as much.And these are people who claim that the Holocaust neverhappened, that the whole thing is a hoax,that the hoax has been created by Jews as a method of getting

    • 16:48

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: sympathy and money.Some of them admit that a lot of peopledied during the Holocaust, but theysay, well, it was just a matter of-- war was going on.And people died of disease and hunger.Some of them claim that none of it happened at all.But they have what they call scholarly materials.They have conferences.And they cloak themselves as being scholars.

    • 17:12

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: And they publish things.So we've got the Holocaust deniers.And then finally, there's an other category.And this is a real catch all category, because it'swhere we put hate groups, for example,non-whites hate groups.All of the groups I've just mentionedtend to have white members.But there are some extremist groups,some hate groups out there, that are not white extremists.

    • 17:32

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: It can be more problematic sometimesto identify whether a group falls into this category,but it's important to know that they exist.There are far fewer of them in the United States,or elsewhere.But they do exist.What all of these groups have in common isthey are worried about power.They feel that their power is being taken away.

    • 17:54

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: And they want to do something about that.And they tend to be opposed to the same groups of people.They're opposed to people of color.They don't like immigrants.They don't like Jews.They don't like anybody who's not Christian.They don't like LGBT people.They don't like feminists.And they don't like liberals.So it's a pretty long list of people that they don't like.

    • 18:16

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: And while they may have a lot of other disagreements,that list is something almost all of them can agree on.And they can share a lot of beliefs on that.So in conclusion, what we've done todayis we've talked about typical hate crime offenders.

    • 18:37

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: Once again, it's important to remember that most of themdon't belong to hate groups.We've talked about why they might be offending.But we've also talked about the hate groups that are out there,what kinds of groups there are, how they recruit,and what they believe.If you're interested in more information,you can read my book.It's called Hate Crimes-- Causes, Controls,

    • 18:58

      PHYLLIS GERSTENFELD, PHD [continued]: and Controversies.And there's a couple of chapters in that book on hate crimeoffenders specifically.Thank you.[MUSIC PLAYING]

Hate Crime Offenders

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Professor Phyllis Gerstenfeld explains that most hate crime offenders are not actually members of hate groups. She discusses the motivating factors behind most hate crime, and she describes different kinds of hate groups in the United States.

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Hate Crime Offenders

Professor Phyllis Gerstenfeld explains that most hate crime offenders are not actually members of hate groups. She discusses the motivating factors behind most hate crime, and she describes different kinds of hate groups in the United States.

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