Tensions in liberalism and the criminalisation of ‘hate’

Paul Iganski

in 'Hate crime' and the city

Published by Policy Press

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9781861349408
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447302476 | DOI:
Tensions in liberalism and the criminalisation of ‘hate’

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This chapter uses data from the British Crime Survey to examine the harms of ‘hate crime’ as experienced by victims. It offers new perspectives on the longstanding debate about the desirability of ‘hate crime’ laws in the United Kingdom. The punitive sanctions introduced by such laws might be viewed in some quarters as being an unwelcome case of the decline of ‘penal welfarism’ and correctionalism and the rise of punitive and expressive justice. However, the provision of equal concern and respect for all people, and respect for difference — principles that provide the motivating impetus for advocates of ‘hate crime’ laws — constitute a central plank of political liberalism. And against those who have argued that ‘hate crime’ laws use illiberal means to achieve liberal ends, the chapter argues that the harsher punishment of ‘hate crime’ offenders compared with offenders in parallel crimes seems to be justified by the liberal principle of proportionate sentencing and provides offenders with their just deserts, given the strength of the evidence that ‘hate crimes’ inflict greater harms than parallel crimes.

Keywords: British Crime Survey; harms; hate crime; victims; liberalism; laws; punitive sanctions; sentencing; offenders; United Kingdom

Chapter.  9107 words. 

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