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When Is A Crazy Racist Hate Crime Not A Crazy Racist Hate Crime?

If you follow me on Twitter, I apologize for exposing you to this again, but I find the story of Virginia’s latest hate crime (or is it) fascinating.

Authorities in Spotsylvania County, Va., said a woman who struck people with her car in a parking lot made a Nazi symbol and yelled “white power.” …

The victims, who are white, told police that a woman struck several pedestrians and a vehicle. One victim told police that the woman made a Nazi symbol, yelled “white power.”

The assumption in hate crimes is the crazy racist/homophobe/religious zealot has a beef against a specific group and targets members of that group. I’ve always wondered how that would play out if the victims were the same gender, religion, race and sexual preference. Perhaps it’s a older white Jewish kid beating up a younger one. Is it a hate crime if he shouts “you young punk” while administering the beat down? Is ageism respected as a hate crime component? What about two people with all the same characteristics but one is buff and the other is scrawny. Is geekism or skinnyism a component?

So now we may get our answer. It seems a crazy white supremacist has gone on a rampage targeting other white people. Since she attacked them randomly with a car, you can’t really claim she knew their religion or sexual identity. So a crazy white person attacks other white people to express her belief in “white power”.

I really want to follow this one and see if they charge her under hate crime laws or just as a nut. By all accounts, this crime is exactly the sort of thing that compelled the passage of hate crimes bills. Had the victims been black, or had the attack taken place at a synagogue or gay nightclub, you can bet they would be talking hate crimes – despite the fact that we’re obviously dealing with a woman who simply has a head full of bad wiring.

Given that she attacked her own race, will they have a hard time proving racial motivations? All other details of the crime fit the hate crimes mold, but the perp/victim mix is out of whack. Will this be the incident that makes people question hate crimes bills?

Written by Michael Turk