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Posts for December, 2012

Hate Crimes Based On Sexual Orientation Most Violent, On The Rise

Jim Burroway

December 11th, 2012

The FBI has released its annual Hate Crime Statistics for 2011 this morning, and those numbers contain some good news and some bad news. The good news is that hate crime offenses overall have gone down in 2011 when compared to 2010. The bad news is that hate crimes based  on sexual orientation have actually gone up during the same period.

The FBI collects three sets of hate crime statistics: hate crime incidents, offenses, and victims. According to the FBI’s definition, an incident represents a single occurrence of one or more hate crime offenses (each offense being an assault, a robbery, an act of vandalism, etc.) against one or more victims. The statistics for 2011 look like this (with 2010 data in parentheses):

Total Hate Crime Incidents, 2011
(2010)
Total Hate Crime Offenses,
2011
(2010)
Total Hate Crime Victims, 2011
(2010)
Race 2,917
(3,135)
3,465
(3,725)
3,645
(3,949)
Religion 1,233
(1,322)
1,318
(1,409)
1,480
(1,522)
Sexual Orientation 1,293
(1,277)
1,508
(1,470)
1,572
(1,528)
Ethnicity 720
(847)
891
(1040)
939
(1,122)
Disability 53
(43)
58
(46)
61
(48)
TOTAL 6,222
(6,628)
7,254
(7,699)
7,713
(8,208)
Totals don’t add up due to additional
multi-category hate crime incidents, offenses and victims.

One argument against hate crimes as a category claims that the distinction singles out minority populations for special treatment. But a quick look at the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics shows that not to be the case. Among the 2,917 incidents in 2011 based on race, 577 were anti-white. Anti-Protestant hate crime incidents made up 49 of the 1,233 religious based hate crime incidents, and 17 anti-heterosexual hate crime incidents were among the 1,508 based on sexual orientation.

Hate crime offenses based on sexual orientation continue to be the most physically violent. This year, three of the four murders counted in the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics were anti-gay male murders (the other was anti-black). When you look at physically violent hate crimes against persons (murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, and aggravated and simple assault) as a percentage of all hate crimes for each protected category, half of all hate crimes based on sexual orientation are personally violent ones:

Total Hate Crime Offenses, 2011 Violent Crimes, percentage of total
Race 3,465 1,226 35%
Religion 1,318 144 11%
Sexual Orientation 1,508 748 50%
Ethnicity 891 355 40%
Disability 58 24 41%
TOTAL 7,254 2,501 34%
Totals don’t add up due to additional
multi-category hate crime offenses.

Hate Crimes Based On Sexual Orientation Still Most Violent

Jim Burroway

November 27th, 2009

One trend that we can legitimately identify in the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics for 2008 is this: hate crime offenses based on sexual orientation continue to be the most physically violent. When you look at physically violent hate crimes against persons (murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, and aggravated and simple assault) as a percentage of all hate crimes for each protected category, those who are singled out based on sexual orientation are really taking it on the chin:

Total Hate Crime Offenses, 2008 Violent Crimes, percentage of total
Race 4,704 1,414 30%
Religion 1,606 162 10%
Sexual Orientation 1,617 744 46%
Ethnicity 1,148 464 40%
Disability 85 33 39%
TOTAL 9,168 2,821 31%
Totals don’t add up due to additional
multi-category hate crime offenses.

Sexual Orientation Hate Crimes: Did They Really Go Up?

Jim Burroway

November 27th, 2009

The FBI has issued its annual Hate Crimes Statistics for 2008, and there’s a lot of talk about how much the statistics for hate crimes based on sexual orientation went up. But before we jump on that bandwagon, Andrew Sullivan points us to an important caution by Mark Thompson who sees what he considers an “annual misuse of hate crime statistics“:

Every year around this time, the FBI publishes its statutorily-mandated annual report on hate crime statistics.  Like clockwork, every year that report gets misused no matter what the FBI does to discourage that misuse (previous examples of misuse here).  This year is no exception, as several prominent liberal sites have picked up on the lede that this year’s report shows a “sharp increase” in anti-gay hate crime while also noting that race-based hate crimes barely decreased at all.

The problem is that these particular FBI statistics are virtually useless for evaluating year-to-year trends – always have been, always will be.  This year, the FBI itself went out of its way to warn against such readings, stating “our Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program doesn’t report trends in hate crime stats—yearly increases or decreases often occur because the number of agencies who report to us varies from year to year.”

Reporting hate crimes to the FBI is voluntary.  Local law enforcement agencies aren’t required to participate in the FBI’s hate crime statistics gathering program, nor do they receive any federal funds when they do so. This means that year t0 year, different segments of the total U.S. population are represented in the hate crime statistics depending on whether the local law enforcement agency chooses to participate.

In 2003, 11,909 law enforcement agencies covering 82.3% of the population participated in the program. In 2008, that number reached a record high of 13,690 agencies covering 88.6% of the population. By the way, that’s up from 13,241 last year, in which 86.3% of the population was covered. Meanwhile, the U.S. added an estimated 2.4 million people to the overall population according the the U.S. Census Bureau.

All of that together is a complicated way of noting that the population covered by the 2008 hate crimes statistics is 3.4% larger than that covered by the 2007 statistics. This means that even if hate crimes went up 3.4% over last year, it means that the rate of hate crimes is effectively unchanged.

So having said all that, let’s look at the hate crimes statistics themselves. The FBI collects three sets of hate crime statistics: hate crime incidents, offenses, and victims. According to the FBI’s definition, an incident represents a single occurrence of one or more hate crime offenses (each offense being an assault, a robbery, an act of vandalism, etc.) against one or more victims. The statistics for 2008 look like this (2007 data in parentheses):

Total Hate Crime Incidents, 2008
(2007)
Total Hate Crime Offenses,
2008
(2007)
Total Hate Crime Victims, 2008
(2007)
Race 3,992
(3,870)
4,704
(4,724)
4,934
(4,965)
Religion 1,519
(1,400)
1,606
(1,477)
1,732
91,628)
Sexual Orientation 1,297
(1,265)
1,617
(1,460)
1,706
(1,512)
Ethnicity 894
(1,007)
1,148
(1,256)
1,226
(1,347)
Disability 78
(79)
85
(82)
86
(84)
TOTAL 7,783
(7,624)
9,168
(9,006)
9,691
(9,535)
Totals don’t add up due to additional
multi-category hate crime incidents, offenses and victims.

From a raw numerical standpoint, hate crimes went up broadly in most categories (race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.)  and by most measures (incidents, offenses and victims). So now it’s time to factor in the growth of reporting agencies as well as the growth of the overall U.S. population. And to try to discern longer-term trends, let’s go back to 2000 and see what it all looks like. The following graphs show what the hate crimes data looks like over the past decade as a proportion to the size of the population covered in those respective years.

incidentsOffensesVictimsThe most notable trend can be seen in reported hate crimes based on race., which have been decreasing dropping through most of the decade. Also notable is the slow but inconsistently lowering of hate crimes based on ethnicity following a huge spike in 2001, caused by a large surge in crimes against people of Middle Eastern backgrounds following 9/11. (Anti-Islamic sentiment also contributed to a spike in religious-based hate crimes the same year.)

But for hate crimes based on sexual orientation, the message appears mixed. One might be tempted to conclude that there has been a slight overall rise in hate crimes based on sexual orientation over the past three years. But given the many issues which contribute to inaccuracies in reporting of hate crimes based on sexual orientation, it is virtually impossible to categorically announce such a trend, as many other web sites have done. The kind of changes that we’re seeing year-to-year amount to statistical noise are clouded by many factors including:

  • Changes in law enforcement agencies who choose to volunteer in the voluntary reporting program. Each year, some drop out as others are added, all with different demographics in their populations).
  • Differences in how investigators are trained to investigate hate crime bias, as well as inconsistencies in how prosecutors pursue hate crime enhancements.
  • Differences in state law, where many states do not cover sexual orientation in their hate crime statutes, giving local investigators and prosecutors little incentive to even investigate and report bias motivation where sexual orientation is concerned. We delved into that in greater detail in 2006 here.
  • Many local jurisdictions are increasingly sensitive to hate crime bias based on sexual orientation. Increases in reports of hate crimes based on sexual orientation may merely reflect better reporting of hate crimes, and not a rise in the actual number or rate of such crimes.

And with this years’ passage of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, observable trends over the next several years will be massively complicated as aspects of the law dealing with local assistance and reporting go into effect. With all these factors in play, it would take a considerable swing to be able to discern a real trend in hate crimes based on sexual orientation. That large swing isn’t there, and any attempt to divine a trend based on sexual orientation is unjustified. Mark Thompson is right. There just isn’t quite enough there there.

But there is one disturbing trend that you can legitimately draw from the latest hate crime statistics: hate crimes based on sexual orientation are noticeably more violent than crimes motivated by other biases.

Christian Reconstructionist Decries “Christian Bashing”

Jim Burroway

January 5th, 2009

Speaking of crying “persecution!”, the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, a.k.a. Christian Reconstructionist Gary Cass, has released a press statement outlining what they call the top ten examples of “Christian bashing” for 2008. Here are Cass’s and his porn-stache’s top ten:

10: Jack Black Musical Video
9: Bill Maher Gratuitously Attacks Pope
8: ESPN Anchor Dana Jacobson’s “F— Jesus” Remark
7: Minnesota University Professor Desecrates Communion
6: “Religulous” the movie
5: Chaplains Fired for Praying in Jesus’ Name
4: Colorado Law Criminalizes the Bible
3: Barack Obama Defames Christianity
2: Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin Is Attacked

Okay, it’s mostly jokes, legitimate political commentary, distortions of legal moves and comments — that is what he calls “Christian bashing.” But you see, under Cass’s Reconstructionist America, none of this would be allowed. And what comes in at number one?

#1: Radical Homosexuals Assault Prop 8 Marriage Supporters in California

During and after the November campaign stories flooded in of pro-Prop 8 signs being taken, people verbally and physically assaulted, church property and private automobiles vandalized, and person’s jobs and pastor’s lives threatened simply for exercising their right to campaign and vote in support of traditional marriage.

While all acts of violence and vandalism are deplorable, Cass is taking the time-honored tactic of taking small, isolated incidents and treating them as if they are a part of a nationwide orgy of violence. Official statistics, however, paint a very different picture. According to the FBI, hate crimes against gays and lesbians continued to increase in 2007, contradicting the overall trend of fewer hate crimes since 2006. Crimes based on sexual orientation very nearly tied those based on religion for second place:

Hate Crime Offenses, 2006 Hate Crime Offenses, 2007
Race 4,737 52% 4,724 52%
Religion 1,597 18% 1,477 16%
Sexual Orientation 1,415 16% 1,460 16%
Ethnicity 1,233 14% 1,256 14%
Disability 94 1% 82 <1%
TOTAL 9,080 100%* 9,006 100%*
Totals don’t add up due to additional
multi-category hate crime offenses.
Percentages don’t add to 100%
due to rounding errors.

But as we noted earlier, hate crimes based on sexual orientation continue to be the most violent by far. Attacks based on sexual orientation are much more likely to be physically violent than in any other category:

Total Hate Crime Offenses, 2007 Violent Crimes, percentage of total
Race 4,724 1,471 31%
Religion 1,477 126 9%
Sexual Orientation 1,460 695 48%
Ethnicity 1,256 497 40%
Disability 82 21 26%
TOTAL 9,006 2,810 31%
Violent crimes include:
Murder and non-negligent manslaughter,
forcible rape, aggravated assault
and simple assault.

As so-called “Christians” continue to shed their crocodile tears over minor albeit deplorable incidents, real people are dying. But so far, so-called “Christian” leaders have still remained silent. It has been nearly a year since Lawrence King’s brutal shooting, and nobody from Focus On the Family, as just one example, has yet to offer a single comment on his death. Even though they know they ought to.

If Christian leaders want to be taken seriously, they should lead by example, and decry the real bashing taking place in America, not the phoney hysteria Cass is trying to whip up. He claims that “Every day in America serious Christians face increasing hostility at work, school, and in the culture because they stand for their faith and values.” And gays aren’t? When’s the last time you heard of a Christian in America being gang raped because of a sticker on her car?

2007 Hate Crime Report: Sexual Orientation Hate Crimes Increase, Most Violent

Jim Burroway

October 27th, 2008

The FBI just released its hate crime report for 2007. While hate crimes overall decreased slightly from 2006, crimes based on sexual orientation increased during the same period. Hate crimes based on sexual orientation also continue to be the most violent, with more than half of all hate crime murders in 2007 attributed to sexual orientation.

Hate crimes based on biases against transgender persons are not explicitly included in the FBI’s hate crimes statistics. It is unclear whether any of the bias crimes tracked according to sexual orientation include gender identity or expression.

Here is the overall breakdown of hate crime offenses for 2007 compared to 2006:

  Hate Crime Offenses, 2006 Hate Crime Offenses, 2007
Race 4,737 52% 4,724 52%
Religion 1,597 18% 1,477 16%
Sexual Orientation 1,415 16% 1,460 16%
Ethnicity 1,233 14% 1,256 14%
Disability 94 1% 82 <1%
TOTAL 9,080 100%* 9,006 100%*
Totals don’t add up due to additional
multi-category hate crime offenses.
Percentages don’t add to 100%
due to rounding errors.

Overall, hate crime offenses in 2007 went down slightly from 2006. Hate crime offenses based on religion fell by 8% from 2006. More than two-thirds of those reports are anti-Jewish offenses. Hate crime offenses based on sexual orientation now statistically tie those based on religion.

Of nine murders logged as hate crime incidents in 2007, five were attributed to sexual orientation, two to race, and two to ethnicity/national origin. In 2006 there were only three hate crime murders reported by the FBI. All of those were on the basis of race. But as we reported last year, a number of known hate crime murders based on sexual orientation did not make it into the FBI’s hate crime statistics that year.

Hate crime offenses based on sexual orientation continue to be the most physically violent:

  Total Hate Crime Offenses, 2007 Violent Crimes, percentage of total
Race 4,724 1,471 31%
Religion 1,477 126 9%
Sexual Orientation 1,460 695 48%
Ethnicity 1,256 497 40%
Disability 82 21 26%
TOTAL 9,006 2,810 31%
Violent crimes include:
Murder and non-negligent manslaughter,
forcible rape, aggravated assault
and simple assault.

These FBI statistics rely on the voluntary cooperation of local law enforcement agencies to report hate crimes which occur in their jurisdictions. This reporting is neither mandatory nor funded. So not all agencies participate, and those that do often do so inconsistently. For more information on how this occurs, please see our report, Federal Hate Crime Statistics: Why the Numbers Don’t Add Up.

This year, there were 13,241 law enforcement agencies participating in the Hate Crimes reporting system, covering 260,229,972 of the U.S. population. That compares to 12,620 law enforcement agencies in 2006 covering 255,086,543 of the U.S. population.

Of the five bias categories tracked by the FBI, two of them are not covered by the current federal hate crimes law. Disability is one of those categories. Can you guess the other one?

Update: I’ve updated this post to reflect that the statistics are these statistics are of hate crime offenses. The FBI maintains three sets of statitics: Hate crime incidents, offenses and victims. Multiple offenses (i.e. assault and robbery) can occur in the same hate crime incident involving one or more victims. The breakout for each category is as follows:

  Total Hate Crime Incidents, 2007 Total Hate Crime Offenses, 2007 Total Hate Crime Victims, 2007
Race 3,870 4,724 4,965
Religion 1,400 1,477 1,628
Sexual Orientation 1,265 1,460 1,512
Ethnicity 1,007 1,256 1,347
Disability 79 82 84
TOTAL 7,624 9,006 9,535
Totals don’t add up due to additional
multi-category hate crime incidents, offenses and victims.

Crimes Based on Sexual Orientation Most Violent

Jim Burroway

November 19th, 2007

Here’s a trend which continues to hold true:

  Total Hate Crime Incidents, 2006 Crimes against persons, percentage of total
Race 4,737 2,987 63%
Religion 1,597 553 35%
Sexual Orientation 1,415 1,004 71%
Ethnicity 1,233 858 70%
Disability 94 47 50%
TOTAL 9,076 5,449 60%

Out of all the major categories, hate crime incidents motivated by sexual orientation are more likely to be crimes against persons (i.e. violent crimes) as opposed to crimes against property (robbery, vandalism, etc.). Only Ethnicity come close, and that is largely due to the recent surge in anti-Hispanic hate crimes for 2006.

But Hispanics and other ethnicities are currently protected by federal hate crimes laws. So is religion. Disability isn’t covered. And the same is true for one other category. Can you guess which one?

See also:

Hate Crime Statistics Released for 2006

Hate Crime Statistics Released for 2006

LGB's continue to take it on the chin. T's, by law, still aren't even counted.

Jim Burroway

November 19th, 2007

The FBI’s latest hate crime statistics are out for 2006. Here’s what it looks like compared to 2005:

  Hate Crime Incidents, 2005 Hate Crime Incidents, 2006
Race 4,691 56% 4,737 52%
Religion 1,314 16% 1,597 18%
Sexual Orientation 1,171 14% 1,415 16%
Ethnicity 1,144 14% 1,233 14%
Disability 53 <1% 94 1%
TOTAL 8,373  100%* 9,076 100%*
Percentages don’t add to
100% due to rounding errors.

Overall, hate crimes in 2006 went up a little more than 8% since 2005. Hate crimes based on religion went up by 283 incidents (an increase of 22% from 2004). Nearly two-thirds of those reports are anti-Jewish. Hate crimes based on sexual orientation experienced the second-largest jump, up by 244 incidents (an increase of 21%).

These FBI statistics rely on the voluntary cooperation of local law enforcement agencies to report hate crimes which occur in their jurisdictions. This reporting is not mandatory, nor is it funded. So not all agencies participate, and those that do often do so inconsistently.

 This year, there were 12,620 law enforcement agencies participating in the Hate Crimes reporting system, covering 255,086,543 of the U.S. population. That compares to 12,417 agencies in 2004 covering 245,006,413 of the U.S. population. Since that represents only a 4% growth in the population represented by these statistics, the much larger increase in hate crime incidents ought to be seen in a very disturbing light.

One of the things that jumped out at me is that there were no murders recorded for sexual orientation. The other thing that jumped out at me is that there was one anti-black murder, and two anti-white murders. So much for the “special rights” argument against hate crime laws.

But the fact that there were no murders based on sexual orientation meas that Jason Gage wasn’t counted. Neither was Michael Sandy. Maybe in Gage’s case subsequent investigations demonstrated that it wasn’t really a hate crime. (We know that prosecutors in the Sandy Case pressed the case as a hate crime). Or maybe, local police just didn’t bother to do the follow-up investigation required to make such a determination. Or maybe they just didn’t bother to file the reports. We don’t know.

But I’ve noted before that problems like these contribute to a likely significant undercount of total hate crime incidents for all categories. As I report in Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count, it happens all too often.

See also:

Crimes Based on Sexual Orientation Most Violent

2005 Hate Crime Statistics

Jim Burroway

October 17th, 2006

The FBI just released the Federal Hate Crime Statistics for 2005. Overall, the report shows some good trends.

There were 7,170 total hate crime incidents in 2005, which is down about 6% from 2004’s 7,649 hate crime incidents. For hate crimes based on sexual orientation, there were 1,018 hate crime incidents in 2005, which is down about 15% from the previous year’s 1,198 hate crime incidents motivated by sexual orientation. As I noted in my report, When Words Have Consequences, some of the harsh rhetoric surrounding the Federal Marriage Amendment and various state ballot initiatives may have raised the number of hate crimes against gays and lesbians during that contentious political year. If these numbers are to be believed, then perhaps 2005 represents a welcome cooling off period.

While this year’s statistics are encouraging, it should be noted that they are not comprehensive. Many jurisdictions refuse to participate in the hate crime reporting system. This omission can be critical. Barely 10% of Alabama’s population is covered by these statistics; Georgia improves slightly to 21% coverage (up from 18% in 2004), Mississippi falls to 30% coverage (from 35%) and Illinois holds stead at 40% coverage. With Hawaii’s continuing refusal to participate, this rounds out the bottom five states in hate crime reporting participation. Meanwhile, nine states and the District of Columbia are in the 100% club, and participating law enforcement agencies in seventeen states bring those states’ coverages to 95% or greater.

But what’s even more startling is this: none of the hate crimes in New York City or Phoenix were reported. Other notable no-shows include Louisville, Buffalo, Charleston, S.C., and surprisingly, Santa Fe, N.M. (where James Maestas was beaten). As I demonstrate in Federal Hate Crime Statistics: Why The Numbers Don’t Add Up, this uneven participation can very easily underestimate the scope of hate crimes against gays and lesbians. This also means that some very high-profile cases like the James Maestas beating in 2005 or Daniel Fetty’s murder in 2004 can go uncounted altogether.

One final note: In a demonstration that hate crime protections are not special protections for minority groups, the FBI reports that there were 828 anti-white, 57 anti-Protestant, and 21 anti-heterosexual hate crime incidents in 2005. This provides further proof that anybody can be a victim of a criminal act of intimidation based on race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity/national origin, or disability.

Hate Crimes and the Same-Sex Marriage Debate

Jim Burroway

January 30th, 2006

Progress is slow here on this website, but then worthwhile progress is always slower than we’d like it to be. There are several new projects in the works, including a major examination of one of the most famous antigay tracts of the past few decades by one of most-quoted researchers. A sneak preview should be available in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile same-sex marriage continues to make the news in the U.S. Just last fall, Texas votors approved a ban against same-sex marriage in a lopsided vote during an off-year election. Just recently, the Virginia legislature voted to put a proposed constitutional ammendment before the votors in 2006. Several other states, including Arizona and Pennsylvania, are poised to take up the question as well. Meanwhile, efforts continue in Massachusetts to roll back gay marriage there.

Thirteen states voted to ban same-sex marriage in 2004, a year that saw significanltly hightened levels of antigay rhetoric. Some gay advocates predicted a backlash against gays and lesbians in the form of increased hate crimes, a prediction that was largely dismissed by opponents to marriage equality. Last fall the FBI released it’s Hate Crime Statistics for 2004 which showed somewhat mixed results nationwide. But in the states that voted to ban same-sex marriage that year, hate crimes against gays and lesbians rose significantly from the year before, strongly bucking the national trend. The FBI’s statistics bear out what we all instictively know: words have consequences, and sometimes those consequences are very serious indeed.

You can learn more about it in When Words Have Consequences: Hate Crimes and the Same Sex Marriage Debate.