The Priest, the Levite and Focus on the Family

Jim Burroway

October 23rd, 2006

It’s getting hard to keep up with the statistical spins coming out of the Focus on the Family factory lately. They’ve become so productive, I’m beginning to wonder of maybe they’re starting to outsource their work.

Last Thursday, they issued a CitizenLink release claiming that the “FBI finds few sexuality-based hate crimes.” They pretend to examine the FBI’s hate crime statistics and conclude:

Near the bottom of the list? Hate crimes based on a victim’s sexual orientation. …

Fifty-five percent of hate crimes were committed because of racial bias, while 17 percent were on religious bias.

“And once again, sexual orientation as a category of hate crimes comes in well behind crimes based on race and religion,” said Caleb H. Price, a gender issues analyst for Focus on the Family. “The problem is, when gay activists come to the table to play their victim card — they are bluffing. The card isn’t even in their hand.”

Bottom of the list? Out of five categories, hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation came in third. Where I learned to count, that would place sexual orientation square in the middle of the list.

I have constantly preached that when it comes to statistics, nobody should take anyone’s word for anything. And since the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics are very conveniently posted on their web site, I invite you to have a look at Table 4, where they present offense types by hate crime motivation. (You can also download the Excel file so you can do your own math.)

Overall, the break down of hate crime statistics by bias motivation goes like this:

Hate Crime Incidents: All reported incidents
Race 4,691 56%
Religion 1,314 16%
Sexual Orientation 1,171 14%
Ethnicity 1,144 14%
Disability 53 <1%
TOTAL 8,380  

As you can see, sexual orientation trails religion by a mere two percentage points — that’s a funny definition for “well behind” crimes for religion.

Now let’s look further at the FBI’s Table 4. This table breaks down hate crimes according to different types of personal crimes and crimes against property. And when you look at who is at the greatest risk of personal crimes — assaults, rape, bullying, etc. — the trend is considerably more disturbing:

Hate Crime Incidents: personal crimes
Race 3,073 60% 66% of hate crimes for race are personal crimes
Religion 454 9% 35% of hate crimes for religion are personal crimes
Sexual Orientation 818 16% 70% of hate crimes for sexual orientation are personal crimes
Ethnicity 810 16% 71% of hate crimes for ethnicity are personal crimes
Disability 53 1% 62% of hate crimes for disability are personal crimes
TOTAL 5,188    

So according to official statistics, when gays, lesbians and bisexuals are singled out for hate crimes, they are are more likely to to suffer from personal attacks than any other group except Ethnicity/National Origin. And sexual orientation accounts for the second largest category for personal attacks behind race. That’s hardly “near the bottom of the list.”

Anti-gay activists often claim that many hate crime allegations are nothing more than name-calling. Since the intimidation category is so poorly defined, let’s take that away from the statistics. This leaves only the truly violent crimes:

Hate Crime Incidents: violent crimes
Race 1,547 58% 33% of hate crimes for race are violent crimes
Religion 114 4% 9% of hate crimes for religion are violent crimes
Sexual Orientation 517 20% 44% of hate crimes for sexual orientation are violent crimes
Ethnicity 448 17% 39% of hate crimes for ethnicity are violent crimes
Disability 25 <1% 47% of hate crimes for disability are violent crimes
TOTAL 2,651    

Now we can clearly see that when gays, lesbians and bisexuals are victims of hate crimes, they are far more likely to be victimized by serious acts of violence than any other group besides the disabled. And sexual orientation is still firmly in the number two spot behind race.

When gays are singled out for hate crime attacks, the attacks are more likely to be personal and violent, and less likely to involve property crimes. This may explain why gays are more likely to suffer from depression, anger, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress when they become hate crime victims.

This makes Focus on the Family’s callous dismissal of this suffering especially inexcusable. Instead of trying to deny that a very serious problem exists, it would be better if they would instead join all of us to find a solution.

But like the priest and the Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan, they don’t want you to see the suffering of the stranger on the side of the road. Their acting in the role of the Levite and the priest instead the Samaritan speaks volumes about the values at Focus in the Family.

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