Elevating Online Defamation: Classified As a Hate Crime?

Starting in mid-November 2022, I found myself under a severe attack where my reputation was tarnished, and my character was assassinated by individuals who failed to grasp the nuances of my 36-year career. Most of these hater-creators adopted a cancel culture mentality due to their disagreement with my professional opinions. You can find more details about this incident here.

This distressing experience not only prompted me to author a meticulously researched book titled "Social Media Monsters: How to Survive Creeps with Keyboards," but it also propelled me to apply to law school. The realization dawned on me about the widespread nature of such incidents and their adverse effects on victims' physical, mental, and financial well-being. Consequently, I've set my sights on challenging Section 230 as it relates to the First Amendment, a topic I'll delve deeper into in upcoming posts.

Living in an era dominated by digital communication, the internet has seamlessly woven itself into the fabric of our lives, providing a platform for connection, information exchange, and self-expression. However, the surge in online interactions has also witnessed a concerning uptick in cyberbullying, harassment, and defamation. Within this digital landscape, individuals who create and disseminate malicious content to defame others often operate without restraint. This prompts me to ponder: could or perhaps should the harmful actions of hater-creators be legally categorized and prosecuted as hate crimes?

Understanding Online Defamation:

Defamation, in its traditional sense, refers to the act of damaging the reputation of an individual through false statements. In the online world, this malicious behavior often takes the form of cyberbullying, doxing, and spreading false information with the intent to harm someone's reputation. While defamation laws exist to address these issues, the question arises whether they should be elevated to the status of a hate crime.

The Elements of Hate Crimes:

Hate crimes are generally characterized by criminal acts committed against a person or their property due to their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other protected characteristics. What if we broaden this scope to include online defamation that targets individuals based on these same characteristics as well as professional opinions?

The impact of online defamation can be profound, leading to emotional distress, harm to personal and professional relationships, and even economic consequences.

  1. Emotional Impact:
    • Online hater-creators often target individuals based on their identity, exploiting societal prejudices and perpetuating harmful stereotypes. This can lead to severe emotional distress for the victims, impacting their mental well-being and overall quality of life.
  2. Social Consequences:
    • The repercussions of online defamation extend beyond the digital realm. Victims may face ostracization and strained relationships within their communities, as false information can quickly spread and influence people's perceptions.
  3. Economic Ramifications:
    • In the age of information, an individual's online reputation is often closely tied to their professional life. False accusations and damaging content can result in job loss, missed opportunities, and financial instability.
  4. Legal Challenges:
    • Pursuing legal action against online hater-creators can be complex and challenging, often requiring significant resources. Classifying online defamation as a hate crime could provide a more robust legal framework to address these issues and hold perpetrators accountable.

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Current Hate Crime Categories:

As of my last knowledge update in January 2022, hate crime categories can vary by jurisdiction, and specific classifications may be subject to change. In the United States, for instance, the FBI tracks hate crimes based on the following categories:

  • Race/Ethnicity/Ancestry:
    • Includes offenses motivated by biases against a person's race, ethnicity, or ancestry.
  • Religion:
    • Encompasses offenses committed against individuals or property due to religious beliefs.
  • Sexual Orientation:
    • Covers crimes committed against individuals based on their sexual orientation.
  • Gender Identity:
    • Focuses on offenses motivated by bias against a person's gender identity.
  • Disability:
    • Involves crimes against individuals with disabilities due to bias.


It's important to note that these categories may evolve, and jurisdictions may have additional subcategories or variations. Legislative changes and societal developments can also influence the recognition and classification of hate crimes.

Expanding Hate Crime Categories:

As society evolves, so should our understanding of hate crimes. Just as existing hate crime laws protect individuals based on certain characteristics as mentioned above, an expansion could offer a shield for those facing discrimination in the digital sphere.

Expanding hate crime categories to protect professionals from being targeted for their expert opinions is a pertinent consideration in the evolving landscape of online interactions. While existing categories focus on personal attributes, introducing a category specifically addressing attacks on professionals could help safeguard individuals whose expertise becomes a focal point for online defamation.


Here are potential categories to consider:

  1. Professional Expertise:
    • Encompasses offenses committed against individuals due to their professional opinions, expertise, or occupation.
  2. Occupational Identity:
    • Covers crimes targeting individuals based on their chosen profession, recognizing that attacks can extend beyond personal characteristics.
  3. Expert Opinion:
    • Focuses on offenses motivated by bias against a person's expert opinions, particularly relevant for forensic experts and other professionals whose expertise is challenged.
  4. Career-based Harassment:
    • Involves crimes against individuals related to their career, acknowledging that online attacks may specifically target one's professional standing.
  5. Knowledge-Based Discrimination:
    • Addresses offenses committed against individuals due to their knowledge, experience, or qualifications, protecting against attacks on their professional reputation.


Including these categories could contribute to a more comprehensive legal framework, offering protection to professionals who face online defamation and character attacks based on their expert opinions. This recognition acknowledges the unique challenges faced by those whose professional judgments are subject to public scrutiny and ensures a safeguard against unjust harm to their personal and occupational well-being.

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What do you think?

Although the idea of classifying online defamation as a hate crime may be met with debate, it's crucial to recognize the far-reaching impact of these actions. Online hater-creators who engage in defamation based on protected or specific characteristics contribute to a toxic digital environment that undermines the principles of equality and respect. In closing, as technology continues to advance, I believe it is imperative for legal systems to adapt and address the evolving landscape of cybercrimes, providing victims with the protection they need and deserve in the digital age.