Hate crimes up? Yes, but not by much

If it is time for the FBI’s annual readout of hate crimes, it is also the time for small hysteria about what a hateful nation we live in. As often happens, the headlines  are worse than the actual facts, once a little reason is applied to the scary numbers.

Before we start, I do not diminish any crime — hate or not — and note that “hate crimes” is a pretty elastic term, encompassing everything from murder to painting a swastika on a synagogue wall. Another problem is a lack of reporting, which I’ll get to in a minute.

There were 7,314 hate crimes, last year, up from 7,120 the year before. That is an increase, but only 2.4%. In a nation of 330 million people, hate crimes amount to 0.002% of the population, which is practically a rounding error.

Far more Americans believe Elvis is alive than commit hate crimes.  

But there is an increase in hate crimes and many lay the blame on President Donald J. Trump, which is an easy call. Maybe too easy. The number of hate crimes against African-Americans dropped slightly last year, from 1,943 to 1,930. 

The highest number of hate crimes in recent years was 7,783. When was that? 2008 and George W. Bush was president. 

There is another easy call — hate crimes rose to protest a Black president. 

The problem is we can only guess what motivates a hate crime. Is it general bigotry, or something specific? We do not know.

It would be nice if the number were zero, but that is utopia. 

The report found  the “distribution of victims by bias type shows that 57.6% of victims were targeted because of the offenders’ race/ethnicity/ancestry bias; 20.1% were targeted because of the offenders’ religious bias; 16.7% were victimized because of the offenders’ sexual-orientation bias; 2.7% were targeted because of the offenders’ gender identity bias; 2.0% were victimized because of the offenders’ disability bias; and 0.9% were victimized because of the offenders’ gender bias.”

Sadly, racial hate crimes were most numerous, but even they were barely an eyelash on America’s face.

But before I get too carried away with the good news, I have to report a flaw.

Reporting to the FBI is voluntary and last year only 2,172 of 15,000 law enforcement agencies did so.

How to improve that response rate? 

Get police unions to request it, perhaps. Or threaten to reduce federal funds to agencies that don’t participate.

Better numbers make for better decisions as to where policing needs to be improved.

In the end, though, in a nation as large and diverse as our, the takeaway is not that there are so many hate crimes, but that there are so few.

21 thoughts on “Hate crimes up? Yes, but not by much”

  1. HAPPY WEDNESDAY !!!
    Stu,
    As always, you are very thorough on your reporting of the facts. I just don’t agree with the facts . With all of these riots that took place this past year, what happened to all of the crime statistics ? Certainly, there was crime of every sort. From misdemeanor to murder. Was any of that crime documented ?
    I will say, that prior to the riots, the country appeared to be on an upswing of civilizing the masses. True, there was hate crime sorry to say. I believe that the FBI statistics reflected this down turn.
    As always the case. There are plenty of laws on the books. We just don’t enforce them. This includes the riots, in particular. Especially in democratic towns where these “peaceful” protests were allowed to take place . Allowed instead of “permitted”.
    stay well,
    Tony
    side note: Pennsy is starting to shut down again

    1. Here is FBI definition of “hate crimes.” You decide if riots fit.
      Traditionally, FBI investigations of hate crimes were limited to crimes in which the perpetrators acted based on a bias against the victim’s race, color, religion, or national origin. In addition, investigations were restricted to those wherein the victim was engaged in a federally protected activity. With the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, the Bureau became authorized to also investigate crimes committed against those based on biases of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or gender.

  2. I’ve never understood nor accepted the description of any crime as a ‘hate’ crime, a category created by (according to everything I’ve read) “journalists and policy advocates,” created to ratchet up the pressure on racism, homophobia, and other loosely-defined, ugly accusations. E.g., I dislike Barack Obama, not because he is Black, but because of his policies. But let any conservative (such as I) say he dislikes Obama and right away he is tarred with the brush of racism. Another example: I am an avid supporter of Israel, but my oldest son doesn’t trust Israel (because of Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty). Is my son an anti-Semite? Absolutely not; he just doesn’t support Israel as I do. Now, to a ‘hate crime.’ I submit ALL of those people marching in the streets back in 2016 yelling F**K TRUMP! could be indicted as ‘haters.’ Or any robber, sticking a gun in the face of someone because that someone may have money that the robber doesn’t — the someone the robber ‘hates’ for having money. And who can read into the mind of someone who paints a swastika on a synagogue to determine if that person really ‘hates’ or is simply a total jerk, misled, misguided, believing what some idiot friend of his tells him untrue things about Jews? Creating a category called ‘hate crimes’ could lead to other scary categories, such as ‘anti-government crimes, anti-society crimes, anti-global warming crimes, and so on. Crime is bad enough without hanging undefinable adjectives on it.

    1. Vince, you hit the nail on the head. Crime is crime. Classifying something as a “hate crime” means we have to go beyond the act of the crime itself and weigh the perpetrators’ thoughts or emotions in connection with the crime. That’s too close to thought policing for me. If someone commits a crime, punish them for the act, not for their thoughts.

    2. On its face, I dislike “hate” crimes because a crime is a crime. Here is how it was explained to me by a gay friend: Local jurisdictions were NOT prosecuting crimes against some minorities, so a FEDERAL crime was needed to guarantee enforcement. Understand better now?

    3. Vince, how would you describe a crime perpetrated against someone solely because the victim is of a particular religion, nationality or color?

      1. If a physical attack, the crime is assault. If a weapon is used, assault with a deadly weapon. If the victim is killed, murder or manslaughter, depending on circumstances. What does ‘hate’ have to do with it? If I rob a rich person, is it because I hate rich people… or love money? Would that be a ‘love’ crime? Put an adjective in front of the crime and you start down a very scary slope. E.g., start talking against the belief in global warming and a new category of crime WILL be created.

        1. Thank you Vince. I question though why you feel it does not matter, let us say for murder, that the person was killed because they were Black, Jewish etc and they would not have been killed if they were not.

          1. And how do you come to that conclusion? Would the perpetrator say as he is committing the crime, “Oh, you’re not Jewish, so I’m just going to maim you instead of killing you”?

          2. Many times they find out because of what the person has posted, what the person’s history is as well as other factors.

            A great example is the kkk. Do you think the lynchings they did were for any other reason than they do not like Black people? There are other examples but I am sure you understand.

    1. Dear Millicent:

      You will not find this utter malfeasance listed under “hate crimes.” For your research, try looking under “Peaceful Protest” or maybe “Minor Disturbance.”

    2. Here is the FBI definition of hate crimes: “FBI investigations of hate crimes were limited to crimes in which the perpetrators acted based on a bias against the victim’s race, color, religion, or national origin. In addition, investigations were restricted to those wherein the victim was engaged in a federally protected activity. With the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, the Bureau became authorized to also investigate crimes committed against those based on biases of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or gender.”
      Political belief is not covered.

  3. First allow me to support the charges of hate crime being made against anyone who can be proven to participate in those covered under the law. I miss your point on the police Union pushing for more accurate reporting of this type of crime. That distinction would rest with two sources: One-the commissioner could give out the statistics that fit the allegation but not until the charging authority applies the actual words of hate crime it then becomes a reportable event. And we both know the history of the present DA. And Two just for some background on what is available in the crime codes of Pennsylvania let me list some of those currently available.
    Chapter 1 – General Provisions
    Chapter 3 – Culpability
    Chapter 5 – General Principles of Justification
    Chapter 7 – Responsibility (Reserved)
    Chapter 9 – Inchoate Crimes
    Chapter 11 – Authorized Disposition of Offenders
    Chapter 13 – Authority of Court in Sentencing (Transferred)
    Chapter 21 – Offenses Against the Flag
    Chapter 23 – General Provisions
    Chapter 25 – Criminal Homicide
    Chapter 26 – Crimes Against Unborn
    ChildChapter 27 – Assault
    Chapter 29 – Kidnapping
    Chapter 30 – Trafficking of Persons
    Chapter 31 – Sexual Offenses
    Chapter 32 – Abortion
    Chapter 33 – Arson, Criminal Mischief and Other Property Destruction
    Chapter 35 – Burglary and Other Criminal Intrusion
    Chapter 37 – Robbery
    Chapter 39 – Theft and Related Offenses
    Chapter 41 – Forgery and Fraudulent Practices
    Chapter 43 – Offenses Against the Family
    Chapter 45 – General Provisions
    Chapter 47 – Bribery and Corrupt Influence
    Chapter 49 – Falsification and Intimidation
    Chapter 51 – Obstructing Governmental Operations
    Chapter 53 – Abuse of Office
    Chapter 55 – Riot, Disorderly Conduct and Related Offenses
    Chapter 57 – Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance
    Chapter 59 – Public Indecency
    Chapter 61 – Firearms and Other Dangerous Articles
    Chapter 63 – Minors
    Chapter 65 – Nuisances
    Chapter 67 – Proprietary and Official Rights
    Chapter 69 – Public Utilities
    Chapter 71 – Sports and Amusements
    Chapter 73 – Trade and Commerce
    Chapter 75 – Other Offenses
    Chapter 76 – Computer Offenses
    Chapter 91 – Criminal History Record Information
    Chapter 93 – Independent Counsel

    1. Number 26 intrigues me. “Crimes against the unborn”? How can a ‘crime’ be committed against someone who doesn’t exist (according to correct PC thinking)? For more on such inexplicable (and downright silly) thinking, see Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels.”

    2. My comment on police unions was that THEY could ask the department to report if it does not currently do so. It is a long shot that the FOP would actually want to do it; just a thought.

  4. Stu

    Sorry this is out of context but I couldn’t find a better one.

    Checkout this link. I moved/escaped from the area 2 years ago. What a refreshing change. The county sheriff is the most proactive I’ve ever seen.

    https://itstimetobeaparentagain.com

    I’m betting his thoughts would be attacked in Philadelphia as racist, out of touch, etc. too bad because they’re exactly what’s needed in the country.

  5. Philadelphia, PA

    Dear Stu,

    “Hate crimes” seem to be misnamed. If Neighbor A, say, driven into temporary madness by an overhanging tree, a wandering dog or whatever of neighbor B, and in a fit of anger and hatred, nurtured over years, takes a hatched and brutally murders neighbor B, then this is not a “hate crime–though it is a crime driven by hate.

    Obviously, something else is involved in this category. It is not just that neighbor B may be engaged in some “federally protected activity.” If so this imagined and not implausible crime would still not count as “hate crime.” The category of “hate crime” is designed, in the first place, to highlight and suppress ethnic, racial and other possible “identity”-communal strife.
    That is sometimes a noble purpose, but we may wonder why we suddenly came into the need of such a category. Hasn’t the U.S. after all, famously integrated people from every corner of the world? E pluribus unum?

    This is where the concept gets tricky. As you have it, quoting the FBI, prohibition of “hate crimes” focuses on crimes committed out of “bias against the victim’s race, color, religion, or national origin” –plus other protected categories later added: “those [crimes] based on biases of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or gender.” It is no accident, I think that these listings of “protected” groups arose along with political emphasis on “multiculturalism” and later, “identity politics” as lauded on the left and chiefly instituted by the Democratic party –who wanted to include all their supporting demographic constituencies. If there are any hate crimes committed against WASPs, or say, the Scots-Irish, Presbyterians and Anglo-Saxon Episcopalians, we don’t tend to hear about them. Though often disliked, these are not the groups intended for protection.

    Given this definition by enumeration of ethnic, racial and “identity” groups, all presumably now engaged in preservation of distinctive traits or cultural characteristics –and avoiding integration or assimilation, one might well expect conflicts to rise. The law implicitly points to crimes and a criminal type arising from inter-group communal strife –and a group of “identity-group” haters. How are we to understand this new, legally defined group? Well, it seems that they are hateful people who we wouldn’t like and who might be expected to descend into violence in light of our new rationales for identity-group, communal preservation and strife.

    But they are more than that, because the legally defined hate criminals make up the extreme paradigm of the more general category of the “politically incorrect.” All less extreme people among the politically incorrect may be expected or feared as possibly falling, progressively, into the extreme category. It’s a slippery slope; and invites close scrutiny of the category of “crime” based on hate and bias. No doubt, there always was American crime based on hate and bias, but now it has been given official recognition. Hate crimes arising from political bias alone are not included in the definition of “hate crime” –as you note. Still the potential hate criminals have been demarcated –and along the lines of overt political divisions in the country.

    We apparently need this new, official category of hate crimes (though the same crime could be otherwise prosecuted), because the left (and the Democratic party) have inflicted an electoral strategy of multiculturalism and “identity politics” on us –out of the conviction, apparently, that justice is impossible within a general, American national identity?

    H.G. Callaway

    —you wrote—
    Here is the FBI definition of hate crimes: “FBI investigations of hate crimes were limited to crimes in which the perpetrators acted based on a bias against the victim’s race, color, religion, or national origin. In addition, investigations were restricted to those wherein the victim was engaged in a federally protected activity. With the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, the Bureau became authorized to also investigate crimes committed against those based on biases of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or gender.”

  6. Stu, you said the highest number of hate crimes in recent years was 7,783 in 2008 and Barack Obama was president. Obama was ELECTED in 2008. George W Bush was still President.

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