Debate: Is it a Hate Crime to Attack Music Fans?

Police in Manchester now officially class attacks on punks, emos and goths as hate crimes, ranking them alongside attacks based on race or religion. But should there be a distinction when a person has a choice about how they look?

Ultimate Guitar

Were all shocked when we hear news that fellow rock fans have been attacked because of their appearance.

But should these kind of crimes be classed alongside racist and religious attacks?

That's the debate in the UK after police in the city of Manchester officially classing attacks on punks, emos and goths as hate crimes, putting them on par with attacks based on race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender, according to NME.

They are the first police force in the UK to specifically protect those in alternative sub-cultures from abuse.

The move is the result of a campaign by the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, which was set up after she was tragically murdered in a Manchester park for being a goth.

"People who wish to express their alternative sub-culture identity freely should not have to erase hate crime," said Manchester Police's Assistant Chief Constable Gary Sherwan. "Sophie's tragic death brought forward a need to recognise that there are many other victims of hate crime that should be protected by law."

If all violent crime is wrong, you might be wondering why there is a debate around the issue.

According to commentators that we've heard on UK news channels, some people think that including statements of dress sense alongside things that people can't change - like the colour of their skin or their gender - then it dilutes the severity of hate crimes against people who can't choose otherwise.

But of course, we know that rock fans don't just choose to dress in certain ways. It's part of their personal identity, and they can't stop loving music if they tried. So why should they be persecuted for that?

You may remember our previous reports on emos being attacked and killed in Iraq, or the Indian teenage girls whose rock band disbanded after a hate campaign.

To us at UG, it's unacceptable and we think Manchester Police have taken a really positive step forward in protecting rock fans. Still, we think this is a really interesting issue and one that deserves a debate.

Do you think more cities and countries should take steps to protect people in sub-cultures? Or do you think there are good reasons not to single out individual groups, and instead focus on protecting people from all backgrounds?

Share your views in the comments and we may pick out the best contributions in a future post.

Trending stories

161 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    All crimes are hate crimes. Nobody commits friendly crimes. Giving special penalties because a victim belongs to a certain group only perpetuates the idea that different demographics are not equal. We are all equals, and the penalty for harming any one of us should not be different from the penalty for harming another person.
    link no1
    Getting an ass kicking because I slept with somebody's girlfriend. That's a normal attack and I deserved it. Getting attacked simply because I am a metal fan. That's unprovoked and I didn't deserve it at all. There is the difference. Add in to the factor that this is GM Police, these sub cultures get attacked on a regular basis in the Greater Manchester area. I think it deserves a harsher punishment since around here people do actually get beaten on a insanely regular basis for this reason alone. Maybe adding as a hate crime will at least stop some attacks, though I doubt it will make a difference.
    Um,why do you DESERVE an ass kicking because you slepy with someone's girlfriend? Hell it was a decision between two consenting adults right? I think violence for any reason other than self defense/defense of someone else qualifies as a crime.
    How about assisted suicide? That's a crime. Is that a hate crime? Is it hate to take away someone's pain?
    I can't agree with the first part. Not all crimes are hate crimes - they aren't all perpetrated because the criminal has something against the victims. I understand you saying there are no "friendly crimes", but you are failing to understand the meaning of "hate crimes" themselves. Furthermore, I would say that people are not equal; we are not born equal, nor do we live as such. We are all good and bad at different things - it annoys me that we are constantly being forced to all be the same, like items in a factory-produced batch; I don't want to be classed the same as some idiotic, violent brute who gets drunk each weekend because they have no motivation in life. That said, when it comes to the law, I agree that the penalties should reflect the crime committed, and not be based on who the crime was committed against, or by (within reason). Let me clarify - if a guy gets drunk and beats up another guy walking down the street, that is bad. If however, the victim is an 80 year old pensioner who can't run away, protect themself, or possibly even cry out loudly for help, then that is even worse. Do you see the point? Whilst a crime should be punished in a certain way, there are also levels of how bad a particular crime is. So, back on topic... Should hate crimes be punished in a different way to a similar crime that wasn't motivated by hate? Probably not. However, it is a way of classifying what types of crime are being committed - that helps the police/any other organisation to focus on tackling not only the crimes, but the motives behind them. If you don't get to the root of a problem, that problem won't go away.
    But if someone goes out with the express intention of harming somebody based on some aspect of their identity, then surely that's a different crime with different motivations than indiscriminate assault or theft, and should be treated as such? I agree that justice should affect everyone equally, but I think that lumping together religiously-, racially-, or whateverly-motivated assault with 'ordinary' assault is counter-productive. The distinction exists for a reason: it's a seperate crime. Punishing that seperately specifically, IMO, does more good for eradicating social boundaries than pretending they don't exist.
    And how do you prove someone attacked out of a specific hate for a certain group, rather than merely being indiscriminately violent? What if I just dislike your face?
    Giving special penalties because a victim belongs to a certain group only perpetuates the idea that different demographics are not equal.
    ^ this.
    by no means am I trying to make any light of this situation. That being said, by your logic sonofgkex, burglary and robbery are hate crimes.
    No, Iamnoob, by my logic there are no "hate crimes" because there is no real distinction between crimes based upon their motivation. Crimes and hate crimes are the same thing, and there should not be different punishments based upon intent. If I shot you, would you really care if I picked up your wallet as you died? Wether I robbed you or killed you out of bigotry or rage does not make you any less dead, nor does it make me more or less of a murderer. Another thing to consider is that in some cases it is impossible to prove intent or motive despite the cases in which the motive is clear. We cannot base our justice system on trying to prove what people "intended" by their actions because intent is often subjective or impossible to prove through evidence.
    hasn't anyone seen the south park where cartman throws the rock at token? every crime is a hate crime
    If youre not filled with hate when commiting a violent act then there is something REALLY wrong with you. However, music is more real than religion.... so if anything music fans have a better justification to call hatecrime
    I wouldn't say religion is less real. The existence of a God or gods is clearly not guaranteed in the slightest. However, religions aren't just about that (if I understand properly) - they are also about a common set of values, morals and perspectives on life, and those are just as real as someone being really into a particular band or type of music. I think musically-motivated hate crimes are as serious as any others.
    South Park resorts to the Golden Means Fallacy, which much like Goodwin's law, serves as grounds to consider invalidating an argument. Furthermore, in places that have a history of violence targeted toward groups of people, hate crime legislation is pretty necessary. In the US, prior to hate crime legislation, not only was racial violence extremely high and worlds more violent than non-racially motivated crime *still is when it happens* (try having yourself tied to the back of a truck on the ground an being driven around, or tied to a tree and castrated and burned), but these crimes were often not followed up by an actual investigation. Without hate crime legislation there would be no accountability for the police who's job it is to protect, serve, and solve crimes when bigotry toward victims is present in the officers (see US and lynching, the UK with Thatcher's anti-leftist police (yes, the police brutally silenced many, including punks, back in the 80s), or murders of Muslims in India and Hindus in Pakistan that police never responded to (as seen in Slum Dog Millionaire - yes that is a movie, but that kind of thing happened)). So, ya know, South Park's Matt Parker and Trey Stone kind of need to pull their privileged heads out of their behinds.
    Dude, you've ALREADY said that. We get it. You've left your opinions on this matter and you've been heard.
    Does anyone else think its slightly ironic that punks are now protected by the very establishment that historically they were known to be against!?
    they're kinda like feminists. its only ok if it benefits them.
    I strongly disagree. I don't know what experiences you have had with feminists, but far from all of them, and no one with whom I have come in contact, fit to your description. Do you even know what feminists stand for, or are you just generalizing from seeing arrogant radical feminists who support the suppression of the male gender, and who get the most media time because they scream the highest? FYI, they don't represent the feminist movement or its cause in the least bit.
    Oh believe me, their are a hell of a lot batshit crazy feminists.
    I second that. I've met a lot of feminists and they're friggin' nuts. Not ALL of them - It's more of the really self-absorbed ones that use their feminist view as an excuse to behave the way they do.
    "behave the way they do" what the hell does that mean? I don't know who you've met or what experiences you've had with individuals, but no matter how antagonistic or annoying one feminist might be, the fundamentals of feminism are absolutely valid. you cannot deny the fact that women are victims of male-dominated society.
    I've seen both sides of the feminist party and I don't have to explain myself to you. With all do respect, you haven't or you wouldn't be asking me to explain myself.
    No, you're privileged and thus ignorant of the pain of being victim to the patriarchy.
    Apollo X
    Oh my god, UG's got itself a bona fide social justice Tumblrtard troll of its own now! Ladies and gentlemen, let the oppression Olympics begin.
    JelloCrust- Who were you responding to? These comment sections get goofy after a few replies to a single person...
    Exactly. How has it gone from whiskey fuelled punks causing chaos in the streets to them hiding behind a police officer?
    They were against that establishment because the police were actively brutalizing them for standing in opposition to Thatcher's policies.
    In both crime and law, hate crimes (also known as bias-motivated crimes, or a race hate) occur when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her perceived membership in a certain social group. Examples of such groups include but are not limited to: racial group, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity or gender identity. A hate crime is a category used to describe bias-motivated violence: "assault, injury, and murder on the basis of certain personal characteristics: different appearance, different color, different nationality, different language, different religion." "Hate crime" generally refers to criminal acts that are seen to have been motivated by bias against one or more of the types above, or of their derivatives. Incidents may involve physical assault, damage to property, bullying, harassment, verbal abuse or insults, or offensive graffiti or letters (hate mail).
    So then, yes. Also, I just find it funny that the police are now required to protect punks when during the Thatcher years they were beat down by the police so much. Yay progress, I'm safe in the UK now.
    If anyone is targeted in disdain, then it's a hate crime.
    You're arguing over semantics here. Would you say the same thing if they were called crimes of bigotry? Because that's what a hate crime is.
    Who CARES what label you put on it? And enough with trying to guilt people on to your side by saying people with a different view are "privileged". Like somehow if your able to support your own existence, your somehow bad and/or ignorant.
    How is attacking a person for how they choose to express themselves, which has no effect whatsoever on the attacker, anything but a hate crime? There is no other motive than "I hate how they choose to express themselves." And as I said in the other thread, it isn't just about how the criminal is punished, it's about how the police help the victims, raise awareness and profile the suspects. To be under the jurisdiction of the correct department, and so to have the right resources available, it needs to be classified as a hate crime. And all of you saying "all crimes are hate crimes" obviously don't understand the concept. Is mugging someone a hate crime? No. It's a crime of greed. Does selling drugs contain hate? Again, no. Many murders are more complex than just "I hate that person, let's kill them". There are usually motives such as jealousy, money or revenge. That's why some crimes are classified as hate crimes, because the only motive is that a person is different. Which, historically, doesn't just occur in isolated individuals or small groups, so large prevention strategies are needed.
    You, sir, make excellent points, and you make them more clearly than I have tried to myself. Well done to you sir. You appear to have a good mind in your head.
    So some killings should be treated more severely than others? Killing for money isn't as bad as killing for hate? Killing for revenge is better than killing for hate of a race? Killing because you HATE someone (not necessarily a "hate crime") isn't as bad as killing someone because of how they look?
    *facepalm* You completely missed my point. I never said treated more severely, or that one was worse than the other. If you read my comment, you'll notice that I said "This isn't just about how the criminal is punished, it's about how the police help victims, raise awareness and profile the suspects." Murders or assaults classed as hate crimes are massively different to murders for revenge or money and should be investigated differently, and require officers with different specialist training and experience to other murders, much like gang violence. Hate crime very rarely occurs in isolated incidents or a small number of linked incidents, so also requires work with communities to raise awareness and change attitudes. Classifying criminal activity is more than just a question of how many years the criminal serves.
    And yet it seems the majority of hate crime legislation only enhances the punishment.
    Actually the majority of hate crime legislation was in alterations to police organisation and procedure, including the creation of specialised detective teams to deal with hate crime in larger police departments such as London and Greater Manchester called Community Support Units (in London at least, the name may vary between forces), creation of Anti-social behaviour orders, and amendments to prosecution procedure.