Durkheim and Crime as a Social Fact Food Disparagement and Hate Crimes

The notion that crime derives from social sources rather than from an individual source is, in my view, an entirely rational and legitimate argument.  One need only take a look at the proliferation of crimes in Americas state penal codes and the continuous criminalization of essentially harmless acts in order to see that criminal offenses are social constructions designed to condition or otherwise constrain individual behavior. 
Recently, for example, new crimes have been written, implemented, and enforced in order to criminalize food disparagement in Colorado.  It is certainly true, even if the American people remain generally ignorant, that you had better not say anything at all, or else the produce industry will sue you for every penny youre worth. If this sounds like a joke, you must not come from any of the 11 states that have passed food disparagement laws, which make it a crime to criticize agricultural products without a sound scientific basis. HYPERLINK httpwww.questia.comPM.qstaod5000351861(Dauber, 1995, p. 20)  If ever there was a set of laws that confirmed crime as deriving from social sources it must certainly be this corporate funded set of laws purchased from Congress.  I cannot imagine how criticizing corporate beef or chicken producers can ever be defined as a criminal offense unless one first assumes as Durkheim did that crime is a social fact.  One need only trace the source of the crime, any crime, in order to see that the source is inevitably of a social origin.  Murder comes from social traditions and religious doctrines and texts.  Theft and adultery come from the same types of sources.  The criminalization of food disparagement is an even more egregious illustration of the social origins of crime.  A public watchdog, for instance, publicizes unhealthy corporate practices at a beef slaughterhouse the media then traces a recent breakout of the e coli virus to this beef slaughterhouse and corporate profits suffer.  So rather than cleaning up the corporate slaughterhouse operations, the corporation instead lobbies state and federal legislators in an effort to criminalize food disparagement and eleven states pass such laws. Americas political system is composed of social facts, one of those being that corporations purchase legislators and laws, and criminal offenses are included within these laws.  If food disparagement isnt a social fact, then I dont know what is.  This should not, however, be viewed as an exception. 
Another excellent example of a crime deriving from unique social forces is the hate crime what is traditionally an assault, for instance, magically becomes enhanced into a hate crime with more severe criminal sentences.  How, I wonder, does an assault become a hate crime  The answer is that certain ethnic groups have now lobbied legislators and purchased or otherwise blackmailed the states into passing new criminal definitions.  That these definitions have been created out of thin air is noted in the academic literature it has been stated, for example, that The terms hate crime and bias crime were coined in the United States during the 1980s, as journalists and policy advocates groped for new terminology to describe bigoted violence directed against Jews, blacks, and homosexuals.  HYPERLINK httpwww.questia.comPM.qstaod5001041372(Green Mcfalls  Smith, 2001, p. 479)  A crime became redefined based solely on the ethnic background or the sexual preference of the victim.  This completely validates Durkheims characterizations to the extant that a crime is defined simply as an assault for one type of victim and as a more severe hate crime for another type of victim.  The underlying act is the same and yet the crime varies depending on social interpretations and policy objectives.  In the final analysis, whether murder or food disparagement, all crimes are essentially social facts as articulated by Durkheim. 


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