[Ed. – Fake hate crimes come with a cost.]
Some years ago I was introduced to one notion of how to tackle dishonest and insincere accusations of racism. The idea was not just that there should be a social cost to making a dishonest claim, but that the cost should equal that borne by somebody who is accurately and correctly identified as a racist. Without such a disincentive, there is no reason (other than decency and honesty, which may sometimes be in short supply) for people not to level such accusations insincerely.
Since Monday night I have been wondering, amid much else, whether some similar aspiration could be encouraged regarding hate crimes.
Faked hate crimes do a lot of things. They increase societal distrust, they assault the truth and they inflame any existing racial or other communal tensions. But they also make people forget the fact that there are people out there who are racist and otherwise bigoted. There really are problems that need to be addressed. There really are people who perpetrate crimes in the world. Among the many reprehensible things about faked hate crimes is that they make people doubt the real thing. Which in turn makes people complacent about a real and visible problem.