Focus on Hoaxes Trivializes the Spread and Reach of Hate Crimes

This letter appeared in the Boston Globe on December 17, 2013.

Letters to the Editor
The Boston Globe

To the Editor:  

Jaff Jacoby, a longtime opponent of hate crime laws, is wrong on all points in his latest column arguing that Lunenburg is just one example of a “long history of hate-crime hoaxes” (“Faked hate? Lunenburg not the exception,” Op-ed, Dec. 11).

The situation in Lunenburg is undoubtedly sad and troubling. But by wrongly asserting that “the ugliest examples of hate crimes now routinely turn out to be hoaxes,” Jacoby trivializes the numerous, serious bias-motivated incidents that continue to persist in our schools and communities. Hate crimes are happening every day, and they have a significant and unique emotional and psychological impact on victims, on their communities, and on our broader society.

Orders of magnitude are important. Far from a “long history of hate-crime hoaxes,” Jacoby cites an article that highlights 14 allegedly “phony” hate crimes since 2004, but in that same time period, the FBI has documented more than 63,000 hate crimes, and 5,796 in 2012 alone.

When hate crimes occur, our society must take them seriously. We commend the Lunenburg community for doing so.


Robert O. Trestan
New England Regional Director

Melissa Garlick
Eastern States Civil Rights Counsel

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