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‘Figurehead’ hate crime cases: developing a framework for understanding and exposing the ‘problem’ with ‘disability’


Thorneycroft, R and Asquith, NL, Figurehead' hate crime cases: developing a framework for understanding and exposing the problem' with disability', Continuum, 31, (3) pp. 482-494. ISSN 1030-4312 (2017) [Refereed Article]

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© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

DOI: doi:10.1080/10304312.2016.1275160


The horrific stories of James Byrd Jr., Matthew Shepard and Stephen Lawrence are forever etched in criminal law. In each of these cases, activists, family members, politicians, academics, the public and media all reacted in their unique way to bring the problem of ‘hate crime’ onto the agenda. There are many other cases that have activated such a public imagination, or what we call ‘figurehead’ cases, yet the factors pertinent to figurehead recognition remain under-explored within hate crime scholarship. Using a case study analysis, three racist and heterosexist hate crime cases are examined in order to assess the individual and collective conditions that facilitated their place on the public agenda. This analysis has important implications for the category of ‘disability’, and highlights several shortcomings that forestall the recognition of ‘disablist hate crime’ publicly, legislatively and judicially. It is argued that the positioning of disability as ‘abject’ has inhibited the operationalization of disablist violence within the hate crime framework, and within criminal justice systems more generally.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:disability, ableism, violence, hate crime
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Criminology
Research Field:Causes and prevention of crime
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Community services
Objective Field:Ability and disability
UTAS Author:Asquith, NL (Professor Nicole Asquith)
ID Code:140847
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:Policing and Emergency Management
Deposited On:2020-09-11
Last Modified:2020-10-22

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