A ‘hate crime’ is one in which the perpetrator is motivated by hostility towards his victim on account of ‘protected characteristics’ such as disability, gender, nationality, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Anyone convicted of a ‘hate crime’ may expect a far stiffer sentence than would have been handed down to him if he had not been so motivated. Of course it will make no difference to Robert Bowers whether ‘hate crime’ is added to his charge-sheet, as he will probably be sentenced to death if he is found guilty of mass murder; nor will it have any effect on the Borderline Bar shooter, Ian Long, because he is already dead, but for perpetrators of lesser misdemeanors, the addition of ‘hate crime’ to their indictment is a very serious matter.

A man (as yet unnamed) has been arrested in the Jewish area of North Hollywood for snatching wigs off women’s heads. Each of his victims (three have declared so far) was wearing a ‘modesty wig’ in conformity with Jewish custom and in each case the creepily smiling offender approached her in the street and grabbed the wig from her head, before returning it, or casting it aside, and sauntering off in silence.

None of the news reports have yet indicated on what grounds the LAPD decided to treat these incidents as ‘hate crimes’, but Rabbi Nachman Abend, Director of Development for ‘Chabad of North Hollywood’, is quoted as telling CBS he was ‘really glad’ when the police chose to describe the perpetrator’s motivations in this way, even though they had done so before they had formerly identified the culprit.

In the end it will be a judge, not a policeman or a ‘really glad’ rabbi, that finally decides whether the wig-snatcher of North Hollywood was acting on anti-Semitic impulses or by the encouragement of some other inner demon. The man could, for all we know, be a wig fetishist or an obsessive of practical jokes. He might share with that eminent 18th century puritan, Samuel Sewall, an uncontrollable hatred of wigs and the people who wear them; he could be a simpleton unable to appreciate the advantage of good manners, or a gender dysphoric, too poor to buy himself the wig he craves, so he tries impulsively to steal them off women in the street, but is too soft-hearted to make off with the booty.

There could be a million different complicated, emotional reasons why our mysterious wig-snatcher chooses to conduct himself in this extraordinary way, but it is typical, in the present climate of American race relations hysteria, that the LAPD should jump immediately to the most boring and most unlikely conclusion of them all: that he was a racist trying to make Jewish women feel uncomfortable on account of their religion. What if the perpetrator turns out to be a tricophiliac Jew who cannot resist taking a peek at the ‘immodest’ real hair of the women he fancies in his community? What then? Will Rabbi Abend be ‘really sad’ if the LAPD decides not to pursue the case as a ‘hate crime’ after all?

While we patiently await a court’s never-to-be-reported verdict on this intriguing case, let us divert our attentions to the vast array of videos available online showing people of all creeds and colors, ages and sexual persuasions, engaging in the massively popular sport of wig-snatching. I can heartily recommend a scene from the coronation of Miss Gay Brazil at which a wig is ripped off the head of one contestant by an emphatic rival, or the riotous robbery in which three youths battle their way out of a wig store in Maryland by punching and kicking anyone with the temerity to impede their progress to the exit. Both clips appear on YouTube where there are hundreds more wig-related episodes to be explored, for wherever wigs are to be found in profusion there are people itching to snatch them. What is it about wigs that sends people crazy? Those who think that Donald Trump wears a toupee invariably consider him a racist, but is there any connection? No, wig crimes are complicated. The LAPD must learn to grasp this simple fact or go back to investigating those among their colleagues who delight in shoving their underwear down each other’s throats and other simple ‘love crimes’ like that.