WHAT IS A HATE CRIME?

The Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission defines a hate crime as any violation of the law that's based on the background of the victim. So, beating someone because he's black is a hate crime. So is defacing a Jewish synagogue.For the first time this year, Los Angeles County is counting rape as a hate crime, because it represents violence against women. Next year, the federal government will start tracking hate crimes nationally, thanks to new legislation. But many episodes - such as shouting racial slurs - won't get counted because they're not technically crimes, complains Adele Terrell of the National Institute Against Prejudice and Violence.

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