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In this article, I draw on both Aristotle and William Ian Miller to analyse hatred as a belief in the desirability of the non-existence of the other to inquire into the relationship between hatred as an emotion and hate crime as a social phenomenon. I examine the particular difficulties hatred as an emotion may bring to the restorative process. I note that while some legal scholars object on grounds of freedom of belief to the notion that crimes motivated by hate should attract more severe punishment than those motivated by other intentions or emotions, others view the state’s role in denouncing the beliefs behind hate crime as fundamental to the justification for hate crime laws. I argue that despite the many benefits that restorative justice may have in healing the harms and causes of hate crime, restorative justice, because it decentres the state in its response to crime, cannot fulfill the expressive role of authoritative state repudiation of prejudiced belief. This drawback of restorative justice may be problematic in the current political climate where it is increasingly unclear as to whether states repudiate or endorse beliefs in the desirability of the non-existence of minorities who are the victims of hate crime. I conclude, however, by outlining one set of cases were the availability of a restorative alternative is highly desirable: that is those public order kinds of offences which, though in some respects are “low level” kinds of violations, when motivated by hate can carry the full message of the desire for the non-existence of the other. Because restorative options embolden police and prosecutors to do something rather than nothing about such crimes, restorative alternatives in this context do, in a round about sort of way, fulfill the desirable goal of treating hate crimes more seriously.



Hate crime law, restorative justice, hatred as an emotion, Aristotle, William Ian Miller

Acorn, A. (2018). “Healing the Will To Annihilate: Emotion, Belief and the ...

  • To cite this article:  Acorn, A. (2018). “Healing the Will To Annihilate: Emotion, Belief and the Decentring of the State in Restorative Responses to Hate Crime” Internet Journal of Restorative Justice, Special Issue Restorative Justice and Complex Crimes, ISBN: 978-1-911634-05-8, ISSN (online): 2056-2985.


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    Corresponding Author(s):

    Annalise Acorn,  Professor of Law at University of Alberta; 465 Law Centre, Edmonton, Alberta, T5G 2H5; .

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