We’re Nearly All Victims Now!

How the politics of victimhood is undermining our liberal culture

David G. Green, September 2019

Identity politics has been creeping into public discourse for many years. When the first edition of this book was published in 2006, it was already obvious that the politics of victimhood had taken hold. This second, updated edition takes stock of how it has developed since then, particularly in the  preoccupation with ‘hate crime’ in recent years.

Hate crimes were initially created under the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act, which provided that crimes such as assault and criminal damage were more serious if carried out with racial motivation. Since then the definition has been extended to cover not just race but disability, transgender status, religion and sexual orientation.

Many other groups are now seeking the same protection. The College of Policing has identified 21 additional victim groups and the Law Commission has been asked by the Government to consider extending the current laws.

But, as David Green writes, this pursuit of victim status – and its recognition by public authorities – undermines the liberal ideal of equality under the law. He explores the implications of this process for the criminal justice system and for freedom of expression, and asks whether it is to time to reinstate the principle that all offences should be treated equally, irrespective of the identity group of the victim.

‘At some point if all demands are met, there will be so few people left out that we might ask ourselves what was wrong with having one law for all. If we were asked to name one defining characteristic of a free society most of us would single out impartial justice – clear laws that apply equally to all and that are applied by independent judges sworn to act without fear or favour, malice or ill will.’

‘Is it time to reinstate equality under the law for every citizen, regardless of their identity group? And above all, how can we restore freedom of expression, now so grievously impaired by identity politics?’