Title: Hate and the Internet
Hate crimes are criminal acts or attempted criminal acts against an individual or group of individuals because of their actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, or disability. Because they are targeted for who they are, victims of hate crimes continue to feel threatened long after an attack. These crimes victimize everyone – individuals and our entire community.
Some hate-motivated offenses do not rise to the level of a crime that can be charged in court. These acts are called hate incidents. Although they may not meet the definition of a crime, they leave individuals feeling victimized and can escalate into criminal behavior.
Free speech is protected by the United States Constitution and is not a hate crime. However, speech that carries a credible threat of violence against an individual or group of people is criminal.
The following acts are examples of hate crimes under California law when they are motivated by the victim’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, or disability:
• Using force or threatening to use force to injure, intimidate, or interfere with another person who is exercising his or her constitutional rights
• Defacing or damaging another person’s property to intimidate or interfere with that person’s free exercise of his or her constitutional rights
• Desecrating a religious symbol or displaying a swastika on another person’s property with the intent to terrorize another person
Vandalizing, burning, or bombing a church, synagogue, mosque, or other house of worship to terrorize other persons
The popular catchphrase of free speech defenders is a quote attributed to Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Civil libertarians often defend and support the notion that the right to freely express offensive opinions is a...