A while back I had posted on hate crime legislation in general as a concept, and why I thought it was a bad idea to criminalize thought. The statistics just do not bear out the attention hate crime receives. So when I happened upon a blog post not long ago titled Hate Crimes, on Lifewalkblog.wordpress.com, I was confident of what I was going to be reading, and it didn’t disappoint.
The first thing I noticed was the persistent use of emotionally charged (and misleading [most likely unintentional]) language implying impending danger of becoming a victim of a hate crime due to sexual identity.
- one violent act of hate takes place almost every hour of every single day. In 2008, 7,783 incidents of hate crime
- According to FBI statistics, 1 out of every 6 hate crimes is committed on the basis of sexual orientation.
- Imagine walking down the street and wondering if this will be the day you get beaten up, simply for who you are and through no fault of your own.
- Imagine hearing about a brutal crime and having to worry if you’ll be next
- Hate crimes affect everyone
- they are committed against innocent people—people who live in your city, in your neighborhood, even on your block
- Anyone can become a victim: your sister, your uncle, your son, the woman you work with, the guy you sit next to in class… even you
- are you really OK with living in a country where a hate crime takes place every hour?
- Do you really intend to look the other way while such violent acts of hate are perpetrated—on your relatives, your friends, your neighbors?
If you only read a post like this, you might feel compelled to walk constantly looking over your shoulder, with your finger on the pepper spray.
Before I continue onto the stats, let me explicitly state attacking a person for any reason other than self-defense or defense of another is morally wrong. Attempting to intimidate a person for whatever reason is morally wrong. I was accused in the comment section by the author of not giving a damn, and taking the humanity away from victims by focusing on the numbers alone. To be fair, the author was not rude and I did not get the impression he was being mean-spirited, just mistaken on my take on the issue.
The impression I got from the post was a focus on hate crime towards sexual identity, though there was much general hate crime language. So I will focus on sexual identity hate crime stats.
According to a UCLA study by The Williams Institute released in April 2011, an estimated 3.5% of Americans identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual which equates to approximately 10.5 million LGBT adults. The FBI reports there were 1482 victims of hate crime due to sexual identity (when I commented on the original blog, I cited the number of incidents rather than victims) in 2009. This translates to 1.6:10,000ths of 1% (.00016%) of all LGBT people were victims of hate crimes.
The tone of the Lifewalk blog post is that of alarmism. I get the impression the author is trying to impose a sense of fear in the LGBT community; and a sense of false compassion in the public at large. What I mean by that is It seems like the author is trying to make his readers believe hate crimes against LGBT is a constant and real threat. The numbers just do not bear this out.
I get concerned when Lifewalk or anyone who may speak on this issue, cites the total number of hate crimes for all social status categories, which is 7,783 (cited as the 2008 number victims on Lifewalk) but focuses on sexual identity hate crime when making his point. I will not presume the author was intentionally misleading his audience, but perhaps a more careful distinction between total hate crime victims and LGBT hate crime victims could have been made.
Sure, hate crime happens and every instance is a tragedy. But it is not an epidemic and should not be marketed as such. I think posts like this trivialize the true victims. When problems like hate crime is over hyped, your cause and those associated with it are seen as exaggerators, and credibility is lost making your plight easily dismissed. When you have the number of victims of the “target” population down to .00016%, I’d say you have the problem as under control as humanly possible.