Just because they can…

by Richard Edwards

According to new statistics released this week, hate crimes against people with disabilities are rising.  I had to make the link eight words long for emphasis–hate crimes against people with intellectual and physical disabilities.  Overall, hate crimes are on the decline, down perhaps 12% year to year, but hate crimes against people with disabilities are rising by roughly the same amount. Now granted, it’s a small number–97 such crimes were reported in 2009. However, there is evidence to suggest that such crimes are vastly under-reported.

Hate crimes against people with disabilities in the UK is getting more attention, and according to a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), people with disabilities are four times more likely to experience violence against them than non-disabled persons.  While that research is focused on the UK, it suggests to me that the number of hate crimes against people with disabilities in the US has to be higher than 97 annually.

My first angle on this is that it illustrates why social capital is so important–because crimes of any sort are less likely to happen to people who have friends, family and community watching out for them.  This is a crime that occurs because someone has deduced that a person with a disability is an “acceptable target”, which brings me to my second point.

My second angle on this is that if you are someone–and if you’re reading this, I doubt very seriously that you are–committing crimes against people because they have a disability, then hear this: YOU ARE A [edited] LOSER. There, I said it…Because I don’t know any other way to say it.

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