Hate crimes

Hate Crimes Down, Says FBI

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation has released its 2011 data on reported hate crimes. They have fallen to the lowest level since 1994. As the FBI reports:

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  • There were 6,216 single?bias incidents, of which 46.9 percent were motivated by a racial bias, 20.8 percent were motivated by a sexual?orientation bias, 19.8 percent were motivated by a religious bias, and 11.6 percent were motivated by an ethnicity/national origin bias. Bias against a disability accounted for 0.9 percent of single-bias incidents.
  • Of the 4,623 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against persons in 2011, intimidation accounted for 45.6 percent, simple assaults for 34.5 percent, and aggravated assaults for 19.4 percent. Four murders and seven forcible rapes were reported as hate crimes.
  • There were 2,611 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against property. The majority of these (81.4 percent) were acts of destruction/damage/vandalism. Robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, and other offenses accounted for the remaining 18.6 percent of crimes against property.
  • Fifty-nine percent of the 5,731 known offenders were white; 20.9 percent were black. The race was unknown for 10.8 percent, and other races accounted for the remaining known offenders.

Washington Post conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin observes:

To put [the FBI numbers] in context, in 2011, with total U.S. population of more than 300 million people, some 1,203,564 violent crimes  and 9,063,173 property crimes were reported.

In other words, hate crimes constituted about six ten thousandths of U.S. reported crimes in 2011. Rubin also notes that …

…among religious hate crimes, Jews make up the overwhelming number of victims (63.2 percent), but the total number, again, is tiny (936). Anti-Muslim hate crimes (in a country in which the left and groups like CAIR tell us is rife with Islamophobia) are much more rare. Muslim hate-crime victims make up only 12.5 percent of the anti-religious hate crimes. That is 185 victims. Any crime based on bias is to be deplored, but we don't have either rampant anti-Semitic crime or Islamophobia crime. When the Anti-Defamation League says that "that anti-Semitism is still a serious and deeply entrenched problem in America," I have to say bunk, at least if you are looking at FBI crime stats.

While the falling incidence of reported hate crimes is certainly good news, prosecuting people for thought crimes is problematic and unnecessary. After all, the sorts of crimes listed by the FBI—assaults, property destruction and even intimidation—are crimes that can and should be prosecuted on their own. As my colleague Jacob Sullum has pointed out "hate crime" laws are often used by prosecutors to put defendants who are either acquitted or convicted of an offense on trial twice for the same crime (double jeopardy).