One sure hate crime hoax and one likely hate crime hoax have been in the news in the past few days. At Delta College in Michigan, a person who posted on YikYak that he was going to "shoot every black person I can on campus" turned out to be Emmanuel D. Bowden, a black student.
At Harvard, there was a big outcry this week after students found black tape defacing the photographs of all of the black Harvard Law School professors. It turned out that the black tape was identical to the tape used by a group of activist black students at Harvard Law who used it the very same day to cover up Harvard Law School's current seal, which incorporates the coat of arms of a slaveholding family involved with the school's founding. While it isn't yet certain, this appears to be yet another hoax.
I've always felt that if a false accusation of rape can result in a prison term of, say, five years for an innocent man, if it can be proven that it was a maliciously false charge, the accuser should get an equivalent sentence herself. After all, this is what the accuser was trying to get for her victim, so that seems only fair.
So it should be with a hate crime hoax. What would the penalty have been for the white student who covered the faces of the black professors in black tape? Getting expelled from school? The same should apply to the hoaxer. Unfortunately, once an affair like this turns out to be a hoax, the matter is usually just dropped.
UVA rape accuser Jackie Coackley was never prosecuted for her false accusations. The woman who falsely accused the Duke lacrosse players of rape was never prosecuted. And whenever there is a racially-motived "hate crime" which turns out to be a hoax, usually everybody just breathes a big sigh of relief that it wasn't "real," and that's the end of it.
It shouldn't be. A hate crime hoax is every bit as bad as a hate crime.
In fact, the case can be made that a hate crime hoaxer is in fact guilty of a worse crime. What if the person who had placed that black tape over the photos of black professors had been white? What would he have been trying to accomplish? He most likely would have been trying to vent some animosity. The result would have been exactly what happened, a mini-tempest of outrage by the black students. The white student certainly wouldn't have won any converts to his side.
What would a black student have been trying to accomplish with that hoax? He would have been trying to stir up hatred between the races, which is arguably worse than just venting one's own spleen.
And all of this brings up a larger question: why are there so many such hoaxes these days? Because people want to be thought of as victims. It gives you the right to complain, to ask for special privileges, to demand more black faculty be hired, and so on.
A hate crime hoax is a hate crime, and should be prosecuted as such.