Atheist attacked publicizing talk about "God: The Failed Hypothesis"
As I've mentioned before, in June our local skeptics and freethinkers groups will be hosting Victor J. Stenger, author of God: The Failed Hypothesis, on this leg of his book tour. As a result, I've been keeping an eye on any news related to the book. Generally, this means reviews, but this week I found something different:
An atheist group leader says he is the victim of a religious hate crime.
Freethought Association of Canada president Justin Trottier said he was assaulted at Ryerson University earlier this week while he and a colleague were hanging posters for a coming lecture.
Mr. Trottier, 24, and his colleague were hanging posters Tuesday night announcing a lecture by Victor Stenger, author of God: The Failed Hypothesis, when they were approached by two men.
One of the men hit him in the face twice, and butted him on his face, causing his nose to bleed, Mr. Trottier said.
So, was it a hate crime? The university and the police aren't treating it as such.
Were the attackers religious? (One might immediately object that they weren't acting religious, but that's a separate question. There's plenty of precedent to argue that attacking a non-believer is a very religious action, but we can debate that some other time.)
Assuming that the attackers were motivated by the fact that Mr. Trottier was publicizing an atheist event, would that make it a hate crime? Seems to me like it would. If Mr. Trottier was attacked because he was publicizing a Jewish event or a Muslim event, I don't think anyone would hesitate to call it a hate crime, so the fact that it was an atheist event shouldn't make any difference.
Of course, it's certainly possible that the attackers were motivated by nothing more than alcohol and boredom, in which case it was just a random event. However, unless there's something I'm missing here, it would seem prudent for the police to at least accept that this might have been a hate crime and investigate it as such to determine the truth.
(For those who wonder what the big deal is about hate crimes: If someone is going around killing everyone named "Sarah Connor" and your name is Sarah Connor, that is an implicit threat against you. It isn't just the immediate crime; it's the implicit threat against others that makes a hate crime worse.)
- Atheist says he's victim of religious hate crime - The Globe and Mail
- Oh My God! They Head-Butted Justin! You Bastards! - Mike's Weekly Skeptic Rant
- Atheist suffers Violent Hate Crime - Humanist Association of Canada
- Atheist Beaten Up on Campus - Friendly Atheist
- FAC president assaulted at Ryerson - Freethought Association of Canada