Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mississippi isn't immaculate, hate crime statistics notwithstanding

In the comments of the previous post on reported hate crime rates by state, UndergroundMan wrote:
Are you really so naive as to think that Mississippi doesn't have hate crimes? The better explanation is that in Mississipi, hate crimes are dismissed.
He is discrediting the sloppy argument I mockingly constructed for the purpose of taking it down myself.

The list doesn't at all appear to reveal what would be expected of an accurate gauge of irrational hate. Mississippi and Alabama as the two least likely states for designated hate crimes to take place? Indeed, if the rankings were completely reversed, the results would probably strike most people as being fairly accurate. Heterogenous places would be expected to have more incidents than homogenuous places would be.

Yet these FBI statistics are the ones that the usual suspects are trumpeting as evidence of an intensifying noose epidemic:
In a statement Monday, Rev. Al Sharpton, president of National Action Network, which organized the protest [outside the Justice Department], said, "The FBI report confirms what we have been saying for many months about the severe increase in hate crimes and why many thousands of citizens marched Friday, Nov. 16 in front of the U.S. Justice Department. What is not reported, however, is the lack of prosecution and serious investigation by the Justice Department to counter this increase in hate crimes."
In the artcile UM links to, a project director at the SPLC captures how meaningless hate crime numbers are:
"I would say Southern states are the absolute worst," Beirich said. "You have states like California and New Jersey that report hundreds of hate crimes -- because they do a good job."
She celebrates states where the most hate crimes are reported to have occured! Well, if your business is magnifying racial strife, they surely are doing a splendid job!

Yet the 'good' states are the ones that've created the overall rise that's garnering all the attention in the first place. Reporting more hate crimes indicates that the people of the state are getting over their racism, but in states where fewer hate crimes are being reported, racism is getting worse! At the state level, anyway. Nationally, diametrically opposite logic applies. Damned if you do... unless you're Hawaii, and refuse to participate in the dog-and-pony show altogether.

The whole idea of hate crime tracking, as I argued previously, causes obfuscation, not clarity. Designating a criminal act a hate crime is subjectively based on the motivations behind the actions, not on the actual outcome of those actions.

Less than one out of 1,500 crimes are judged to be fit the definition. In addition to being diminutive, they are, relative to total crime, not particularly serious. Only one of every 5,678 homicides (three in all of 2006) in the US 'fits' the bill, while just one of every 15,409 rapes (six for the year) does.

More useful would be an exposition of total crime in the US and the demographic details of that criminality. It wouldn't necessarily mean a condemnation of black behavior, which the vast majority of the population already knows is, on average, much worse than the behavior of other groups. For while hate crimes committed by blacks are growing at a faster rate than those committed by whites are, the magnitude of total black criminality relative to total white criminality may have shrunk over the last decade. And understanding a problem is the first step to addressing it.

But the material doesn't lend itself well to the portrayal of a viciously oppressive racial majority that media outlets, morally-posturing white elites, and race hustlers are engaged in.

Parenthetically, the misreading by the commenter provides an illustration of why I'm uncomfortable in making use of sarcasm and mockery, and why I limit my use of them online. As engaging speakers know, tone and a host of non-verbal communications are crucial tools in being able to convey the message trying to be communicated as clearly as possible.

Text formats remove those advantages. To compensate, I use an exclamation mark to show absurdity, irony, gross hyperbole, or silliness. For example, I might write to UM:
If we were walking towards one another with ample time for either of us to avert course slightly to avoid a collision, yet we still crashed because I failed to yield, it'd be because I refuse to acknowledge your existence!
In reality, it wouldn't be intentional. I tend to gather wool while I walk, and I'd genuinely apologize if such an incident actually occured.

Also, I use quotes when I'm, well, quoting something verbatim, while I use single apostrophes around a word or phrase when I'm using it in a way I perceive some other person would use it, but not in a way that I generally would.


undergroundman said...

I don't really care much about hate crimes (if I was black, maybe I would), but I still have to take issue with the way you frame this. It's not clear that the "hate crime" designation causes obfuscation -- it's plenty clear what the facts are. It's just a good example of the fact that in the deep South, racism is not over, and that racism extends to the level of institutions which report racism. Racism is not over anywhere. You read Steve Sailer, and yet you're surprised by this?

Or maybe you think that continued racism -- as in bigotry, discrimination, and harassment simply because of skin color -- is acceptable? Was the Civil Rights movement a step back? Is awareness of the issue a problem? Does reporting a hate crime really lead to more hate crime, or does an awareness of a problem lead to less of a problem? I thought the entire point of exposing black stupidity was to expose the problem and thereby heal it?

You claim that the "hate crime" designation is subjective, but unless there are people trying to mess up the data, hate crimes are usually pretty clear. When there's interracial violence for no good financial reason and words like "nigger", "faggot", "chink", and "cracker" thrown around, you can be pretty sure that there's racism involved. When reported correctly, that data gives us a decent look at the level of racism in a country (at least in areas where we feel like we can trust the data -- but the lack of data in the South is also informative). What's a better proxy for the level of racism in an area?

Overall, does hate crime data really hurt?

Anonymous said...

I hate to break it to you undergroundman, but quite a bit of these hate crimes are staged. All one needs to do is type in "fake hate crimes" into Yahoo. I am still waiting for the results of the investigation into the noosing at Columbia. The noose on the staute of Tupac was put there by a black guy. Were Knoxville and the Wichita Masscare categorized as hate crimes? If not, I hope so. Do these stats keep track of fake hate crimes? If it turns out that the noose at Columbia was hung by the good professor herself, is it just written off? Why is it any different if I mug you at the ATM machine and and say, "Give me the cash nigger" instead of just "Give me the cash motherfucker?"

Audacious Epigone said...

No, you're missing the point entirely. Look at what you wrote:

It's just a good example of the fact that in the deep South, racism is not over, and that racism extends to the level of institutions which report racism.

So more hate crimes reported indicates more racism or less racism? Or does it depend on where, being up to whoever to judge in which case what goes? Some municipalities are likely to report as a hate crime something where hate was not the primary motivation (related to your last paragraph, if even partial determined to be a motivating factor, the crime may be designated as such). If something is going to be reported on, it should at least be accurate, even if it is of negligible importance (as is the case with diminutive number of hate crimes).

All the while, we get no indication of actual crime trends. This small sliver, representing less than one-tenth of one percent of all criminal activity, and disproportionally mild crime at that, gets an enormous amount of media attention even though the data is subjective and unreliable. Even on race/ethnicity, the data is obfuscating. While 'Hispanic' is a victim category, it is not an offender category. So if the crime involves a Hispanic victim, the rate of hate crimes targeting Hispanics increase. If the crime involves a Hispanic offender, the rate of hate crimes perpetrated by whites goes up.

I agree with what anon is getting at rhetorically. A better proxy for racism in the area is the actual occurences, rates, and details of interracial crime. It certainly represents much more reliable, useful data--yet it is almost never reported on in the major media.

undergroundman said...

Fair enough. I agree.