BY MARTIN KICH
This is a double juxtaposition for the price of one.
Note the order of the two articles—the implicit greater concern for the seeming epidemic of dog shootings by police over the incidence of hate crimes.
Here are the six “Fast Facts” in the second article:
“1. The new report covers incidents that occurred in 2015. This seems like the first important fact to note, since some people have already been trying to pass the data off as a response to Donald Trump’s election as president. . . .
“2. The data is incomplete + inherently increase-prone every year. . . .
“3. Hate-crimes against persons are down over last year. . . .
“4. Nearly two-thirds of all hate crimes involved no physical violence. . . .
“5. Crimes motivated by racial/ethnic bias were the most common type of hate crime. . . .
“6. Blacks, Jews, and gay men were the most common hate-crime targets. . . .”
I will comment on these items, after providing a point of contrast.
Consider the slant of the second item with against that of an article on the same FBI report published in ProPublica and written by A.C. Thompson and Ken Schewncke:
“In 2015, the authorities in California documented 837 hate-crime incidents, charting a surge in offenses motivated by religious intolerance toward Muslims and Jews, while crimes against Latinos grew by 35 percent.
“Last week, shortly after Donald J. Trump was elected the country’s next president, the Southern Poverty Law Center put up a form on its website encouraging people to share details about potential hate crimes. By the next day, they’d received about 250 reports – more than they’re used to seeing in six months.
“Then on Monday, the FBI released its latest national tabulation of hate crimes, data that showed an overall uptick of 6.8 percent from 2014 to 2015. The accounting, drawn from information passed on to the bureau by state and local law enforcement agencies, charted a 67-percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes. . . .
“But even in the early stages of what promises to be a prolonged focus on crimes colored by prejudice and politics, there appears to be one irrefutable truth: the data is deeply flawed.
“James Comey, the director of the FBI, said as much even as he announced the bureau’s latest batch of numbers.
“’We need to do a better job of tracking and reporting hate crimes to fully understand what is happening in our communities and how to stop it,’ Comey said.
“More than 3,000 state and local law enforcement agencies don’t report hate crimes to the FBI as part of its annual national survey of crime in America. Professor Brian Levin, who heads the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, said the entire state of Hawaii fails to file any such reports.
And many of the law enforcement agencies that do choose to participate do not appear to be particularly rigorous about documenting hate crimes and passing that information onto the federal authorities. . . .”
So, let’s return to the list in the article from Reason, and let’s start with the second item. The writer acknowledges that hate crimes are under-reported but minimizes any increase by attributing it to increased reporting. Yet, she then goes on to analyze the data as if it is, in fact, complete—as if very clear conclusions can be drawn from the data that has been reported. So, if one goes back to the first item in the list, one might ask how large an increase in reported hate crimes will need to be reported for 2016 for it to be reasonably attributable to the caustic rhetoric of the Trump campaign?
As a last note, let me suggest that many of the same “law and order” advocates (and I put the phrase in quotation marks because no one credibly advocates for crime and chaos) who would minimize the “hate crimes” that have not involved physical violence are also advocates of the concept that reducing graffiti and other overt indicators of disorder in urban neighborhoods will reduce crime and especially violent crime in those neighborhoods. The victim of a hateful verbal assault because of his or her physical appearance, attire, or behavior does not likely go home much comforted by the recognition that he or she suffered no physical injury. To suggest otherwise is glib.
The complete article for Reason is available at: http://reason.com/blog/2016/11/15/facts-about-fbi-hate-crime-data-2015.
The complete article for ProPublica is available at: https://www.propublica.org/article/hate-crimes-are-up-but-the-government-isnt-keeping-good-track-of-them?utm.