From Thrill to Defensive Hate Crimes: The Impact of September 11, 2001

Jack Levin


For a period of time following the original usage of the term “hate crimes” in the late 1980s, there existed a gap in the literature of criminology and social science generally regarding important factors underlying the motivation of hate crime offenders. Researchers recognized that certain criminal behavior had its basis in hostility toward people who were different in socially significant ways from the perpetrator. Yet little was systematically articulated to connect various hate crimes with relevant sociological and social psychological explanatory variables. As a result, those practitioners who deal with hate crimes on a daily basis—for example, prosecu- tors and law enforcement personnel—were at a loss to identify the distinguishing characteristics of hate-motivated offenses. Recognizing this gap in the literature, my colleague Jack McDevitt and I sought to establish an exhaustive typology of offender motivations and to elucidate the range of factors associated with these motives.

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