It seems that we associate a certain language to crime, and I wonder how much of it is accurate. For instance, the Baltimore Sun ran several articles that made mention of how John Mohammed referred to Malvo as "son" in his cross examination. The article pointed this out as an example of how Mohammed was a father figure to Malvo and manipulated him. I don't doubt that Malvo was manipulated by a man that he considered a father figure. I disagree, however, that the term 'son' is illustrative of that fact. I find that African-American men refer to one another as such quite often - regardless of age or role.
The New York Times has been covering a trial in New York City that has been charged as a hate crime based on the use of a word: you know, the N word. The crux of the case seems to be this: is it a slang term used in a ghetto-fabulous way, or was the attack solely racially based? That is, can people of different races assault one another without it being a hate crime? If so, does the N word change that? In all cases? How can you tell?
I think that's the tricky part with hate crimes. It's hard to tell what someone's motivation is. And, if in New York City, the only evidence is the use of the N word, is that sufficient? Perhaps the jury will let us know.