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Law & Order: Hate Crimes Is a Bad Idea Built on Worse Statistics

But if the show must exist, I have some ripped-from-the-headlines ideas for upcoming plots.

modified from Law & Order logo screenshotmodified from Law & Order logo screenshotAn upcoming iteration of Law & Order will focus on hate crimes, that nebulous category of criminal offense that has become a locus of debate since Donald Trump's election. NBC announced on Tuesday that it had commissioned 13 episodes of Law & Order: Hate Crimes, a series based on the Hate Crimes Task Force within the New York City Police Department (NYPD).

This "elite, specially trained team of investigators" is housed within the department's Special Victims Unit (SVU), which also houses creator and executive producer Dick Wolf's longest-running franchise, the launched-in-1998 Law & Order: SVU. And, boy, does Wolf sound sanctimonious about his new project.

"I want to depict what's really going on in our cities," said Wolf in a statement.

Twenty years ago when SVU began, very few people felt comfortable coming forward and reporting these crimes, but when you bring the stories into people's living rooms ... a real dialogue can begin. That's what I hope we can do with this new show in a world where hate crimes have reached an egregious level.

In addition, NBC programming exec Lisa Katz said in a statement Law & Order: Hate Crimes is extremely timely "considering that last year there was a double-digit rise in hate crimes in our 10 largest cities—the highest total in over a decade." The FBI defines hate crime as any "offense against a person or property" that is "motivated in whole or part by an offender's bias against a race, religions, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity" (and would be better named bias-based offenses).

But there's actually no evidence, save for misleading media headlines, that there's been an "egregious" spike in bias-based offenses, not since Trump was elected nor over the past decade. In 2016, the most recent year for which the FBI has data, the national hate-crime rate was significantly lower than had been reported in 2001, 2006, 2008, or 2012.

"Hate crimes in 2016 were down 19.7 percent over the previous 10 years," noted professors Brian Levin, James J. Nolan, and John David Reitzel in a June article at The Conversation, and "far below 2001's record high."

Levin—who is director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University San Bernardino—and his colleagues conducted their own research to get a measure of hate-crime reports in 2017, since the FBI data is not due out until November. They're the ones who broke down data from America's 10 largest cities, finding the "double-digit rise in hate crimes" that Katz mentioned—albeit just barely. On average, incidents were up 12 percent (from 923 incidents to 1,038).

In New York City specifically, hate crimes last year were down two percent from 2016, and lower than they had been in 2010 (339 reports last year, versus 350 at the start of this decade). Hate crime rates fell in other top-10 cities last year, too, including Chicago (down 14 percent) and San Antonio (down 60 percent).

But these drops were offset by larger increases in some cities. Overall, the 2017 study found an additional 115 incidents reported in the 10 biggest cities, with 49 percent of these coming from Phoenix and about one-fifth apiece coming from Los Angeles and San Jose.

So far, their 2018 data shows more city-specific drops, in New York City—96 reported hate crimes through April 30 this year, versus 132 at that time in 2017—as well as cities such as Washington, D.C. and Seattle. They note that "only a small number of agencies have partial year data for 2018, but most are down significantly."

Between their data and the FBI's, there's little to hint at a cohesive explanation for fluctuations (though the authors do try to pin any recent increases on Russian influence). Many areas have shifted back and forth between slight annual increases and slight annual decreases. Some show dramatic spikes or falls all of a sudden, in contrast to areas around them. Some report no such incidents officially, though such incidents make local news.

The problem with Law & Order: Hate Crimes isn't just that it's premised on tortured statistics, however. If there's anything this country does not need right now, it's more stoking of identity-based tensions and televised depictions of discord based on them.

To be clear, I'm not worried that people otherwise unbiased and unmotivated to commit crimes will suddenly get a hankering to go spray paint their local park with swastikas after watching the show.

I am worried that people's perceptions of the prevalence of bias-based incidents and the likelihood of fair treatment from cops and the criminal justice system will be shaped by it in unsavory ways (remember the CSI effect?). And these ways tend to reinforce calls for carceral solutions, that wind up entrenching state power and strengthening systems of abuse at the expense of vulnerable and minority groups.

If Law & Order: Hate Crimes must exist, however, I do have some recent ripped-from-the-headlines suggestions for plot lines:

Photo Credit: ||| modified from Law & Order logo screenshot

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  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    "I want to depict what's really going on in our cities," said Wolf in a statement.

    LOL

  • Just Say'n||

    I like how you turned it around on them at the end.

    But, to be honest, I find your problem with "hate crime" to be "hate speech". Off to "hate jail" with you!

  • Cathy L||

    They could also do lots of episodes on false reports. There was at least one of those in NYC, wasn't there? Someone who lied about her hijab having been pulled off. Can't wait to see that episode.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    Maybe that specific incident didn't technically happen as described. Still, that does not negate the larger truth that marginalized groups in the US are under near-constant assault as the White Nationalist in Chief promotes racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and misogyny.

  • Average Dude||

    Clearly you didn't actually read the article.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    FYI, OpenBordersLiberal-tarian (OBL for short) is a sock puppet/ parody account that someone has been running for a long while now. It's shtick is pretty old and stale at this point. There's no reason to interact with it, just laugh and move on.

  • JoeBlow123||

    I disagree. Not old and stale.

  • NashTiger||

    On the contrary, he is much more sane, clear, and concise in making the Progressive case than the Rev, Tony, the Hinhs, which in and of itself is hilarious and very sad

  • buybuydandavis||

    He's the hero Reason deserves, but not the one it needs right now

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

  • lap83||

    I thought that was going to be a Seinfeld Clip "Who?? Who is burning the flag?"

  • ||

    New York Police Commissioner Howard Safir told the Associated Press that crime in the 840-acre park is down this year, but added, "If I put 10,000 cops in Central Park, we couldn't cover every single area."

    Wow, so with 10K cops, you can't assign each of them a 60' x 60' foot area and expect to be covered crime-wise? Those must be some really fucking crooked cops.

    Meanwhile, the overwhelming majority of 840 acres swaths between the coasts continue to police themselves at zero cost.

  • ||

    They're ALL false reports. In regular Law and Order they make you think one person did it then it turns out to be someone else. In this new show halfway through the episode they reveal that the victim painted that swastika on their own locker for attention. Can't wait.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    I have two words for you: Tawana Brawley

  • My Dog Bites Better Than Yours||

    I read through the list and briefly thought Radley stopped by to drop off a nut punch.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    I'm very excited for this project. If handled well, it could be the second most important #Resistance themed TV show. (Obviously, The Handmaid's Tale is number one.)

  • Brian||

    I wonder what's the ETA of the "Trump made me a racist/sexist criminal!" episode?

    Episode 1?

  • Hamster of Doom||

    Nice job, ENB. Flex those research muscles for the interns.

  • Zeb||

    How can someone with such a great name make such lame shows? Dick Wolf indeed!

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    The original original Lore and Order was pretty good. Even though it eventually settled into a kind of predictable pattern: The guilty party is the rich old white guy.

    I remember Ann Coulter made a funny quip that the murderer is always a rich white man who recites the 2nd amendment before disemboweling a small child.

    But I certainly enjoyed it.

  • Zeb||

    I did like the original as well. The two part format was clever and interesting. Then they dropped that for all the other series.

  • vek||

    Well, God Forbid they had had 50% of the murderers be black, 35% Hispanic, and less than 15% being white people who make up 2/3s of the population! Going by the ACTUAL statistics would have been SUPER RACIST, so they surely couldn't do that!

  • croaker||

    You should see his attempt at reviving Dragnet. All ten episodes are on YouTube. Though I have to admit Ed O'Neil does a passable job at depicting a promoted Joe Friday.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    a series based on the Hate Crimes Task Force within the New York City Police Department (NYPD).

    Law & Order, SVU, Wokeness Division.

  • Just Say'n||

    Would be a hell of a lot more woke to cover police brutality. And that's why they whole woke thing is just virtue signaling bullshit

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    You're actually on to something. Why not Law & Order Internal Affairs. It's a show about a sleepy little office that finds every shooting justified.

  • croaker||

    Law & Order: Civilian Review Board

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Better: Law & Order: Viewer Review Bored

  • Rock Lobster||

    Mayberry IAD?

  • Dillinger||

    >>>"elite, specially trained team of investigators"

    deciphering spray art requires special elite training

  • Mazakon||

    [i]To be clear, I'm not worried that people otherwise unbiased and unmotivated to commit crimes will suddenly get a hankering to go spray paint their local park with swastikas after watching the show.[/i]

    If it does, it'll be those who only want to 'start a dialogue'.

  • lap83||

    commissioned 13 episodes of Law & Order: Hate Crimes,

    That sounds about as exciting as a "Law & Order: Parking Violations", but with moral preening. I can't wait.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    That would be "Law & Order: SUV"

  • JoeBlow123||

    "Law & Order: Parking Violations"

    Sounds like a good Seth Rogan movie. He can be a fat slob fuck who smokes pot and yells at people while giving them parking tickets.

  • Rock Lobster||

    Michael Moore seems to be working that corner.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

  • lap83||

    That's from the writer behind the AskaManager blog, so she has more sense than a typical Slate writer. That said, of course many of their staff members probably found the piece very relevant.

  • lap83||

    and btw, I think someone at Slate wrote the headline. The article content is less ridiculous

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I would hope so because the tweet is hilarious.

  • ||

    Arrested Cobb officer strangled mentally delayed woman during sex.

    WTF is 'mentally delayed'?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Too dumb to know not to date a cop.

  • croaker||

    That's what they use because we can't say "retarded" anymore.

  • ||

    No! I was just lamenting this the other day, mentally retarded *was* the PC term. Maybe if we adopt the term imbecile as the more polite term we can loop back around.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Maybe if we adopt the term imbecile as the more polite term we can loop back around.

    While we're at it, maybe we can take back "porch monkey" too.

  • vek||

    What they fail to realize is WHATEVER word they choose to use will become offensive soon. The very concept of BEING retarded/mentally handicapped/special is what normal people find offensive. The same will happen for any other word swap that has happened with "uncool" groups. I already call people transgendered as a jab at them, of course saying it in the properly sensitive vocal tone to make it extra insulting!

  • Zeb||

    It seems to imply that eventually they will catch up, which isn't usually the case. "Retarded" sort of has the same problem.
    I'd say "mentally disabled" is a better term that doesn't come off as unpleasant. But it seems like maybe now we are supposed to pretend that one way of being isn't any better than any other, or something.

    So "retarded" it is.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Already done.

    If they want an actual increase in "hate crimes" all they have to do is further broaden the protected class to include Trump supporters and various rightwing groupings.

  • GILMORE™||

    ""If they want an actual increase in "hate crimes" all they have to do is further broaden the protected class""

    Yes. Or just change the way you collect data.

    Growth in the #s is often just "asking more districts to report any incident that might qualify".

    sometimes data reflects 'incidents', and sometimes actual prosecutions - which are obviously 2 different things. You can have incidents that turn out to not be motivated by hate at all - e.g. the many many hoaxes initially reported by media as legit - and you can have truly biased assault which fail to convict. Data reflects judges/juries willingness to convict

    Its much like the Cleary-Act data on 'sexual assault on campus'.

    The data doesn't really reflect real growth in underlying events: its a reflection of additional schools reporting more and more data because 'growth in data' is a sign of compliance (or else lose funding);

    there's also the fact that many sources count 'reports' rather than incidents- a single incident can produce multiple reports. (e.g. some of these hate crime stats claim to be tracking 'news sources')

    The entire category of "hate crime" is subjective bullshit to begin w/. the statistics surrounding are a godawful non-scientific mess, even when they come from FBI

  • GILMORE™||

    ""If they want an actual increase in "hate crimes" all they have to do is further broaden the protected class""

    Yes. Or just change the way you collect data.

    Growth in the #s is often just "asking more districts to report any incident that might qualify".

    sometimes data reflects 'incidents', and sometimes actual prosecutions - which are obviously 2 different things. You can have incidents that turn out to not be motivated by hate at all - e.g. the many many hoaxes initially reported by media as legit - and you can have truly biased assault which fail to convict. Data reflects judges/juries willingness to convict

    Its much like the Cleary-Act data on 'sexual assault on campus'.

    The data doesn't really reflect real growth in underlying events: its a reflection of additional schools reporting more and more data because 'growth in data' is a sign of compliance (or else lose funding);

    there's also the fact that many sources count 'reports' rather than incidents- a single incident can produce multiple reports. (e.g. some of these hate crime stats claim to be tracking 'news sources')

    The entire category of "hate crime" is subjective bullshit to begin w/. the statistics surrounding are a godawful non-scientific mess, even when they come from FBI

  • GILMORE™||

    ""If they want an actual increase in "hate crimes" all they have to do is further broaden the protected class""

    Yes. Or just change the way you collect data.

    Growth in the #s is often just "asking more districts to report any incident that might qualify".

    sometimes data reflects 'incidents', and sometimes actual prosecutions - which are obviously 2 different things. You can have incidents that turn out to not be motivated by hate at all - e.g. the many many hoaxes initially reported by media as legit - and you can have truly biased assault which fail to convict. Data reflects judges/juries willingness to convict

    Its much like the Cleary-Act data on 'sexual assault on campus'.

    The data doesn't really reflect real growth in underlying events: its a reflection of additional schools reporting more and more data because 'growth in data' is a sign of compliance (or else lose funding);

    there's also the fact that many sources count 'reports' rather than incidents- a single incident can produce multiple reports. (e.g. some of these hate crime stats claim to be tracking 'news sources')

    The entire category of "hate crime" is subjective bullshit to begin w/. the statistics surrounding are a godawful non-scientific mess, even when they come from FBI

  • Cynical Asshole||

    They're the ones who broke down data from America's 10 largest cities, finding the "double-digit rise in hate crimes" that Katz mentioned—albeit just barely. On average, incidents were up 12 percent (from 923 incidents to 1,038).

    In a nation of 320 million people, that's a very small sample size. It's not too surprising that there could be large percentage fluctuations when you're dealing with such small samples.

    Between their data and the FBI's, there's little to hint at a cohesive explanation for fluctuations (though the authors do try to pin any recent increases on Russian influence).

    When in doubt, blame the Russians. "The 1980s called, they want their foreign policy back," amiright?

  • Ben of Houston||

    Definitely after Trump's election there was a lot of fearmongering, so you would expect a lot more reporting of minor incidents just from people being jumpy. Reporting increase does not necessarily mean actual increases of incidents.

  • Kivlor||

    Something tells tells me they'll be basing the premise off the fantasy of "whites hate minorities and victimize them" instead of reality where basically all minorities are phenemenally more likely to victimize whites.

  • colorblindkid||

    24.3% of hate crime offenders are black, while around 50% of offenders are white. That means black people are 2-3X more likely to commit a hate crime. More importantly, because most racial hate crimes have black victims and white offenders, that means that the black offending rate of anti-Jew and anti-gay hate crimes is far higher than that of whites.

  • Fats of Fury||

    The numbers are skewed because cops (and politicians) are hesitant to charge non-whites with hate crimes.

  • vek||

    That's what my money would be on.

    Could you IMAGINE the hate crime rate for blacks if every white person they victimized, that they insulted for being white while doing it, was ACTUALLY charged as a hate crime? Since blacks victimize whites at insanely high rates compared to the reverse, I bet blacks would be up around the same 50% of total hate crimes mark that they have for murder!

  • Rock Lobster||

    Nationwide or just in Hymie Town?

    Jesse Jackson wants to know.

  • General_Tso||

    I prefer the Simpson's idea, CSI: Elevator Inspectors

  • Dillinger||

    word. i prefer the Simpsons to everything.

  • colorblindkid||

    What you failed to point out is that the vast majority of these hate crimes are verbal assaults, verbal harrassments, or graffiti/vandalism. I'm pretty sure all the crimes on the show are going to be murders or violent attacks, but they are incredibly rare.

    Both in 2015 and 2016, in the entire country of 330,000,000, there were 9 hate crime murders. Nine!

  • Ben of Houston||

    Since when do crime dramas ever have to be realistic about their numbers. That never stopped Jessica Fletcher's quaint village of Cabot Cove from having the worst per-capita murder rate in the world.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Geez. How in the ever is Wolf going to get 13 episodes out of 9 murders? Sigh. A guy just can't make it at all these days

  • Intelligent Mr Toad||

    I think a good idea would be Law & Order: White Collar Division or Law & Order: Bunko Squad.

  • NoVaNick||

    The other day, some nutcase left this flyers in our neighborhood about how the government is conspiring with the Jews to kill the gentiles, and are also somehow causing extreme weather and earthquakes. It said that the big one will hit on 11/7/2018, as predicted in the Talmud, but the Jews will be safe because only they know the location of secret caves.

    I, who am one quarter Jewish, couldn't stop laughing, but my wife wanted me to report it as a hate crime.

  • vek||

    Well in all fairness, it's not ALL the Jews! It's just the 2/3rds that are crazy communists! ;)

  • Rockabilly||

    I fucking hate hate crimes and hate speech.

    Fuck all of you commie pieces of shit.

  • Brian||

    Sounds horrible.

    How many different crimes are they going to come up with?

    Racist murder!

    Sexist rape!

    Racist rape!

    Sexist murder!

    Racist assault!

    ...

    How many seasons?

  • ||

    They're going to stretch the term 'hate crime' to dizzying heights.

    Mark Ruffalo better be one of the detectives. And Ashley Judd.

    If you're gonna be moonbat go full moonbat.

  • ||

    "I want to depict what's really going on in our cities," said Wolf in a statement."

    lol.

    This is going to be a train wreck.

    Not that I'll watch. I stopped when they got infected with TDS.

  • ||

    Hey Wolf, are you gonna do shows on fake hate crimes reported by Muslims?

    Those I'll watch.

  • josh||

    All of this depends on how hot the detectives are of course. If you're going to insult my intelligence, you better be hot.

  • Mark22||

    "I want to depict what's really going on in our cities," said Wolf in a statement.

    What's going on is that they are run by corrupt racists, aka Democrats. Are you going to depict that?

  • Desert Girl||

    How much of Dick Wolf must we take? Don't forget his Chicago franchise, Chicago Med, Chicago Fire and Chicago PD. Also somewhere floating around the channels he has a show on the FBI. The original Law and Order is the best, IMO. Law/Order/SVU is totally ridiculous since Chris Meloni's departure. Two seasons ago they engaged in bashing Trump and his supporters. Haven't watched since. Mariska has taken a tumble!

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    The original Criminal Intent was worth watching, if only for the best male/female detective team on TV: Bob Goren and Alex Eames (who looked like she could actually take a perp down). And Rita Moreno as Goren's mom.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Now remember kids.

    It's only hatred when Whitey does it.

  • XM||

    Most hate crimes are things like vandalism and property damage. If a prankster spray painted "Die you Jews" on a garage door, that will probably count as hate crime.

    CSI hate crime episode

    Detective in an interrogation room or on site - "Did you do it"

    The custodian - "No"

    Shifty looking guy who looks like he did it - "No".

    Victim's friend who appears cornered by lack of alibi or evidence - "I swear it wasn't me, you have the wrong guy"

    Soccer mom who had 3 lines in the 5th minute of the show - "It was me"

    Dun dun duh duh dun

  • Michael Cook||

    Let's see, in 25 years watching cases go through some pretty busy courts in an activist-plagued city, did I ever, even once, see a prosecutor file hate crime charges in a reverse direction of the normal politically correct expectation?

    Not just no, but hell no! These statutes are peculiarly biased in both their intention and their application. They are special penalties triggered by, frankly, political favoritism in the crafting of laws.

  • vek||

    Yup. If I were saaay a protected class, and reported them, then I have had numerous "hate crimes" perpetrated on me in my lifetime, mostly from blacks, but some from Hispanics. Unfortunately I am white, sooooo none of that counts.

  • vek||

    Sooooooo a question. Is the show going to be realistic about the numbers here? Because BLACK Americans are responsible for about 1/4 of so called "hate crimes" in the USA, a rate about double that of their percentage of the population.

    Or is every single episode going to be a straight white man oppressing some black-gay-Muslim-tranny?

    IIRC Hispanics are also responsible for a disproportionate amount of hate crimes. Knowing what I know about the current system, I would suspect blacks are WAY less likely to be busted for things that a white person would receive a hate crime add on for as well.

    This is going to end up more pure, anti white vitriol. And is a lame idea for a show just on its own merit anyway.

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