Understanding Hate Crimes

The definition of "Hate" according to The New College Edition American Heritage Dictionary of The English Language By Houghton and Mifflin is:

  • HATE — To loathe, detest. To dislike; wish to shun. To feel hatred. Strong dislike; animosity; hatred.
  • HATEFUL — Inspiring hatred; detestable; dispicable. Feeling or expressing hatred; malevolent.
  • MALEVOLENT — Having or exhibiting ill will; wishing harm to others; malicious.

What are Hate Crimes?

I define a "Hate Crime" as a violent act against another human being, because of their race, religion, sexual preference, or any other form of indifference. For example, the two men who committed the murder of my father, Ken Eaton, murdered him because he was a gay man. They believed one less gay man on the earth was good. They felt superior over gay men and women. They preyed upon them like they were on a hunt.

Ken EatonCrime happens so much in our society today, that I feel we have become numb to it. When you watch the news all you see is violence. There is violence in our wars, not to mention murders and rapes in our own culture, as well as armed robberies, crimes of passion, domestic abuse, drunk driving crashes (which are crashes NOT accidents), acts of bullying from our youth (which takes place everyday a child goes to school, on the bus, or out with friends) cyberbullying and texting bullying, kidnappings, child abductions, and little children (our future) being sexually abused or exploited (by strangers and also done by people who are suppose to love them!). What has our world come too? We live in a VERY violent world.

Do you know that "HATE CRIMES" can happen ANYWHERE at ANYTIME to ANYONE. In the United States of America, where we are suppose to be the greatest nation there is, one violent act of "HATE" is committed every single hour of every single day. That means in a 24 hour period, 24, if not more, innocent people have been touched by an act of "HATE", and have to live with the after effects of what somebody else's "HATE" has done to their lives. The ripple affect NEVER ends.

"HATE CRIMES" or "CRIMES" in general change people FOREVER. They change everything about us…how we think, feel, live, go about our daily lives, and think about people. It effects our health, mind, soul, well being, and our heart.

If you are a victim of "HATE CRIMES" or "CRIMES" you can either harden your heart forever or you can try to take an awful situation and make some good out of it. Challenge yourself to make a better world by trying to have faith in the people that took so much from you.

Being a victim/survivor of a "HATE CRIME," I know that the past 22 years has been an uphill struggle for me at times, even sliding down to the bottom and climbing my way back to the middle. I have not reached the top, and I don't know if I ever will. My life has changed drastically. It takes a lifetime to recover. I personally think that when an act of "HATE" is done to you or your loved one, a part of you just dies with the act that was done.

Violence to others is NOT the way to solve anything. I tell my 5 children when they are fighting that physical violence is not the way. NO ONE asked for this act of "HATE" to be done to them. In some situations it is a random act of "HATE," but in other situations victims are hunted and preyed upon, and those crimes I would say are "HATE CRIMES"…just like the two men who murdered my father. Call it a "HATE CRIME" or "GAY BASHING,” either way, they killed an innocent man because of his sexual preference.

I feel the way to stop the feelings of hate in our world, is to reach our youth. Tragically, our youth are committing VERY violent acts of "HATE" at VERY young ages. Still, I feel "HATE" is a learned behavior, NOT one that you are born with. WE CAN STOP THE VIOLENCE!!

We have come a long way with victims' rights and laws for victims in our society. Twenty-two years ago, you were not allowed to give a "Victim Impact Statement" at the sentencing of the offender. That has changed. Victims are now given that right, if they choose to. Today tougher sentencing is applied if a crime is considered a "HATE CRIME." They have now, at least in the State of Iowa, placed a price for a homicide. $150,000.00 is what the offender is suppose to pay to the victim's family through what is called "Restitution." Twenty-two years ago, I received $300.00 when my father was murdered because of a "HATE CRIME" or a "GAY BASHING." Victim Advocates now go to the scene of a crime/crash to be with the family for support, which they did not do 22 years ago. Victims are finding their voices, and politicians, government and courts are listening.

Victims are also given an opportunity to participate in what is called "Restorative Justice," which is a victim/offender meeting, face to face, which I have done twice with my father's murderers. I feel it was VERY healing for me, but I know that it is NOT for every victim.

We, as victims/survivors, are making a difference. We are finding the strength to tell whoever will listen about the crime that has happened to us. WE ALL HAVE A STORY TO TELL. If we listened, we would learn A LOT from others. Instead of living with hate, our lives could be filled with compassion, love, healing, and possibly forgiveness — which is VERY freeing for the soul, mind, heart, and health of a victim/suvivor.

Remember, "HATE CRIMES" or "CRIMES" can happen ANYWHERE to ANYONE at ANYTIME. Please help us to try to make "OUR" world a better place for ALL of us to live in.

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