Hateful words cause hateful acts

The latest Home Office figures show once again that hate crimes are soaring in England and Wales. The number of reported hate crimes has doubled since 2013.

The majority of hate crimes are racial, and there were a shocking 78,991 such crimes in 2018 – an increase of 11%. And there are also worrying increases in hate crimes against disabled people (up 14%), Jewish people (up 50%), gay and lesbian people (up 25%) and trans people (up 37%).

Remember too that the majority of hate crimes are never reported, and the ones that are rarely end in prosecution.

As the Home Office reported last year:

offences are less likely to be reported if they are considered more minor by the victim (such as verbal abuse) and not worth police time, or when committed against people who are regularly victimised and have normalised it as ‘part of everyday life’. Certain barriers are more specific to the victim community. For example, qualitative research with the LGBT community found that fear of being ‘outed’ was a frequent concern

Part of the increase is better recording, but that isn’t the whole story. If it were, you would have consistent increases across all categories, and you wouldn’t see spikes such as the increase in race-hate crimes around the EU referendum and the 2017 terrorist attacks.

If you look at those numbers again, the biggest increases are among the groups most commonly singled out by social media and mainstream media. Anti-semitism has come roaring back thanks to far-right social media users, who frequently spread hatred about disabled and LGBT+ people too; the massive rise in hate crimes against trans people corresponds with a period of hysterical scaremongering about them by supposedly respectable newspapers and broadcasters.

Once again you’ll be told that this is the result of a snowflake generation reporting free speech on social media, but the Home Office’s own analyses in recent years show that that isn’t true. These are not arseholes being arseholes on Twitter; these are hate crimes that happen in the street, perpetrated by people who often commit other kinds of crimes, especially violent ones. More than half of hate crimes are public order offences and a third involve “violence against the person”.  Online hate crimes are a tiny amount (2% in 2016/17, mostly racist).

Hateful words lead to hateful acts.