After South Park aired its episode of containing a fight between the residents of south park and people from New Jersey, should people who are called some version of “Jersey” be able to sue for a hate crime?  Obviously South Park painted the residents of New Jersey in a rather unflattering way (mixing in Jersey Shore, the Real Housewives of New Jersey, lots of fist pumping, tanning, and calling each other “muff cabbage”). 

Hate Crime

Considering the incredible disgust that has followed the rash of New Jersey related shows, it could eventually be argued that making fun of someone for being from New Jersey could be a hate crime.  A hate crime is a crime that is committed because the person committing the crime targets a particular victim because of their social group.  Here, we have people bullying, harassing, verbally abusing and insulting people who are from New Jersey.  However, it is unlikely that people from New Jersey are likely to be defined as a social group (which is usually a racial group, religion, sexual orientation, disability, class, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, gender identity or political affiliation).  On the other hand, if there is more “Jersey-bashing” then perhaps making fun of someone for being from New Jersey could eventually be seen as a hate crime.

Just Joking?

Sometimes a joke will go too far and turn into harassment.  Harassment is something that causes you to feel uncomfortable or putting you at risk in some way.  You could be harassed because of your birth place, in this case New Jersey, but harassment based on birth place usually involves other countries.  However, if New Jersey continues to collect a rather unflattering reputation, then maybe claiming someone is from New Jersey could eventually be harassment.  Telling someone “it’s just a Jersey thing” is not enough to really push the line into harassment.  However, repeated attempts at humor based upon a person’s birth place could eventually be considered harassment.

What do you think?  Is South Park just making fun of the rash of New Jersey shows? Is it enough for harassment?

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