Was the live TV shooting in Virginia a hate crime?

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Should We Call the Virginia Shooting a Hate Crime?


The suspect in Wednesday's double murder at a Virginia news station is dead, and authorities have begun investigating what may have motivated him to kill his former coworkers. But the manifesto penned by the alleged shooter before his death has many asking whether or not it was a hate crime.

ABC reported Wednesday that someone claiming to be the shooter faxed the ABC newsroom a 23-page document full of violent thoughts and personal grudges.

The excerpts released by the network also show a mind obsessed with racial tension.

Photos of the suspect:
17 PHOTOS
Suspected shooter Vester Flanagan (Bryce Williams)
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Was the live TV shooting in Virginia a hate crime?
This screen shot shows the Twitter page of Bryce Williams, whose real name is Vester Lee Flanagan II, shortly after he fatally shot WDBJ-TV cameraman Adam Ward and reporter Alison Parker during a live broadcast in Moneta, Va., early Wednesday morning, Aug. 26, 2015. The station said Flanagan was also an employee at WDBJ and appeared on air as Bryce Williams. (Twitter via AP)
Social media shared from a Twitter account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a Twitter account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a Twitter account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a Twitter account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a Facebook account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a Facebook account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a Facebook account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a Facebook account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a Twitter account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a Twitter account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a LinkedIn account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a LinkedIn account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a LinkedIn account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a LinkedIn account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Social media shared from a Twitter account belonging to Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, the suspect in the shooting of two journalists in Virginia on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
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"The church shooting in Charleston was the tipping point, but my anger had been building steadily," he reportedly said, also suggesting that he was mistreated because he was a gay black man, according to ABC.

"He shot three white people today. Why is that not a hate crime?" Fox News's Gretchen Carlson asked on her show.

Security expert Paul Viollis retorts that the mental state of the killer negates that argument.

"Because of the fact that the workplace violence offender is clearly delusional. They make up their own sense of reality," Viollis said.

So is he right that the shooting fits the workplace violence profile better than the hate crime profile?

First, let's keep in mind that hate crime laws are controversial to begin with, and the media isn't necessarily consistent on what gets called a hate crime.

It's also a tricky legal question. According to the FBI, not just any crime between people of different races counts. It's about whether race is the motivation, which is hard to prove.

The Charleston shooting is a pretty clear cut example. Judging by statements attributed to the gunman, he set out to kill black people, no matter who they were.

The Virginia shooting seems more personal. Certain people were targeted for specific reasons, and the earliest information that came out showed a clear workplace conflict.

But as more of that shooter's manifesto was made public, it's easy to see why people who are suspicious of hate crime laws would see a double standard.

One excerpt from ABC that's getting a lot of attention asks, "You want a race war? ... BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE" somethings, showing that both shooters saw themselves as part of a broader racial conflict.

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