2009 Hate Crime Report

The F.B.I. released its 2008 data on hate crimes in the U.S. The figures suggest that American hatred is on the rise, but not my much: only about 2 percent. The highest upticks occurred for hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation (up 11 percent) and religion (up 9 percent).

A few other patterns in the data:

A “victim” could be a person, installation, building, or “society” in general. However, the F.B.I. doesn’t provide a good definition of “society” as victim. Interestingly, only three hate crimes had multiple biases, meaning that the offender was expressly targeting a victim for more than one reason. (You can hear Andy Rooney‘s voice: “Apparently those who commit hate crimes can’t multi-task.”)

Hate crimes seem to go up in the spring and summer months (hibernation?). Hate crimes against whites do occur, though they make up only one-fourth as much as anti-black crimes; the hate crimes against blacks make up nearly three-fourths of all race-based hate crimes. Whites make up about 79 percent of the American population: they commit about 60 percent of all hate crimes. (Six percent of the offenders had “multiple races.”)

The geography of hate crimes varies considerably. Thirty-two percent occurred near homes, 17 percent on highways and streets, 12 percent near schools and colleges, and 4 percent near churches/synagogues/temples. Regionally, it is difficult to make definitive assessments because the number of reporting agencies varies by states. In 2008, there were 2,145 agencies that reported, up from 2,025 the year before. California does a good job of tracking, while Pennsylvania and Georgia are lax. Hard to say whether there is more racism in one place than another, and there is little mentioned about the reasons why reporting (or resources to respond to incidents) might vary.

Indeed, overall, the significant differences in reporting make the F.B.I. report illuminating but limiting. Comparing hate crimes across years would be futile. Nevertheless, the reports are useful as they yield a snapshot portrait of one form of violence at one point in time.

President Obama signed a new law covering hate crimes against those who are attacked for reasons based on gender, gender identity, disability, and sexual orientation. One wishes the law could also have prompted more systematic reporting and data collection.


As an empiricist, I'm skeptical about the use of this data. In any data on crime one must distinguish between crimes and crimes that were reported. This is even more of an issue here, because the propensity to report hate crimes may be correlated with what you are trying to measure.

Probably a bigger problem is that the label of hate crime depends on the police's determination of the motive. I have no idea how one would control for differences in the cross section and over time of how such motivations are determined.


"Whites make up about 79 percent of the American population..."

That seems way high. Are you sure they're/you're not throwing hispanics in with whites?

And if so, you have to consider that as a major flaw in this reporting, since there is a huge amount of race-based violence between hispanics and blacks, particularly in cities with gangs, like LA.


Over the past few years both the attention and awareness a category of crime called a 'hate crime' has increased and the definition of what a 'hate crime entails has been added to.

I am not sure we are in a postion to objectively evaluate this data, at this time.


These statistics are suspect at best. Hate crimes are such a hot-button issue, I doubt municipal police forces can be much of a reliable source for reporting such sensitive data.

Also correct me if I am mistaken, but if the proportion of hate crimes committed by those identified as white is less than that of their proportion in the entire U.S. population, does that mean whites are not the "most racist" Americans? Where is the difference made up?


How do they know the cause of the crime was motivated by hate? I am not denying such things don't occur, but how do you distinguish between a crime and a hate crime?


Do perpetrators of "hate crimes" actually confess to them based on the victims race/national origin/ sexual orientation? How does anyone measure this?


I guess I don't understand how something as complex and nebulous as motive can be measured by a simple statistic.

Of course, it doesn't help that "hate" crimes are relative--white on black is defined, typically, as hate but not the reverse. Seems that part of the concept of hate crimes is to create the impression that whites are more likely to commit crimes against blacks (e.g., "blacks make up nearly three-fourths of all race-based hate crimes"), when the reverse is true.

And, @2, Hispanic is not a race. Hispanics can be of any race.


There are numerous problems with using this data for year-to-year comparisons. This point was recently made by Mark Thompson at the League of Ordinary Gentlemen blog: http://www.ordinary-gentlemen.com/2009/11/the-annual-misuse-of-hate-crime-statistics/

You note these problems later in your post yet still remark on time trends in the opening paragraph. Did you somehow account for the differences in the number of agencies reporting for your analysis?


What Alfred Adler once classified as "anti-social" crime (thus coining the term) we might call hate crime today. The lashing out against social institutions, or some segment of society, is the key. Call it hatred, resentment or anti-whatever-you-are-that-I-ain't.


"And, @2, Hispanic is not a race. Hispanics can be of any race."

True, but how are "mexicans" categorized? Probably under the umbrella term "hispanic", which is probably included with whites. I'm farily sure whites don't make up 79% of the population, so he's throwing some other group in there, and FBI stats often throw Hispanics (or Mexicans) in with whites, which really doesn't help if that's the case.

Anyway, there are entire gang infested neighborhoods in LA where Mexicans will assault a black for being black (not sure if it works in reverse), so I imagine this would make a significant difference in the numbers if "hispanic" was separated from white.


I looked at the tables. It looks as though there is no castegory for mexican or hispanic. That explains the bogus number of "whites" (79%) in the data.

So when you have a a group of Mexican gang members assault a black person in LA, you've just had a hate crime(s) that will be categorized as white on black. Most people don't see things that way, so it's sort of silly. My guess is the white perp numbers are greatly inflated due to this bias in the reporting.


It doesn't sound like you've known a victim of a hate crime or read about a case of it. It's not an issue of confession, but self-righteousness.

Most criminals know what they did is wrong whether they choose to do it or repeat it, but someone who commits a hate crime typically thinks they're right - justified.

Recently, for instance, in Chicago a man (who wasn't Muslim) was beaten for being Muslim by someone who claimed he was "helping the fight against terrorism". Confess? Or declare and preach?

Bravo. Someone noticed that forms ask if you are Hispanic White or Non-Hispanic White and possibly knows the difference between Latino and Hispanic.


I'm not surprised there is a rise in hate crime.

The decade the KKK had the highest membership was also the great depression. Then again, it didn't help back then that Woodrow Wilson saw them as a patriotic organization of Democrats.

Vincent Chin was beaten to death in Detroit during the crash of the American car industry.

There's also the fact that hate crimes, much like schoolyard bullying, is definitely correlated to perceived peer sentiment. Not as simple as beat on someone different, but that "everyone you know" feels the same way.

Prop 8 saw a surge of both gay rights supporters and anti-gay activists - if I hated gays, I'd feel both like my opinion is the majority and being ignored. It's pretty easy with the way the media and government works to simultaneously feel like you belong to a powerless majority.



Absolutely fascinating!


Another interesting study would be the rise in discrimination based on religion/gender specially at work. Though these are not particularly "hate" crime, as they don't cause any physical damage to the person or his property they do cause a lot of stress in person's life. Which according to a lot of studies the as damaging as some physical injury.


I'm sure a crime against a non-white is more likely to be considered a hate crime than a crime against a white.


"I'm sure a crime against a non-white is more likely to be considered a hate crime than a crime against a white."

I can't imagine a double standard at work. The shock!


"Hate" crimes are really rather silly. If you intentionally hurt someone, it is a crime -- I don't care who you hate or why you did it. A few years ago, someone smashed the windshield of my car and used spray paint to paint a "Swastika" on the hood (as the police said). There was snow on the car at the time and no one could have really painted anything very well. It was a smushy painting and I think the painting might as well have been a "Happy Face". The perpetrator was caught and the police wanted to call it a "Hate" crime. I thought that was stupid (I'm not Jewish or German either). so it was just a property crime.

Paul G

I think "bias crime" is how NYC defines "hate crimes", perhaps a better term. These statistics have been kept on race, religion, gender, even sexual orientation. Though I don't believe statistics are kept on it, I wonder if there has been an increase in crimes committed against people based on financial strata. I've anecdotally heard about investment bankers buying guns and have seen people picketing in front of homes of AIG bonus babies looking angry, but has there been any actual violent retaliation.


How come all these white commneters can't accept the racism that is still alive and well in their community. For pete sake, the era of anti-black cruelties lasted from the 1500s through the 1970s, and seeped into the 1980s if you add the loopholes and technicalities white employed to get around equal rights laws. All that and it's difficult for these whites to believe they're race commits the most race-based hate crimes and against blacks. Is not how the unemployment rate skyrocketed in the African American community in comparison to the white community not proof enough of that? According to statistics here in Wisconsin alone, a white person is more likely to hire a white person with a criminal history than a black person with a clean record. In fact, blacks are fleeing the state of Wisconsin because of the high levels of racial discrimination going on in the workplace. Over 60% of whites voted for McCain. The majority of whites are all republicans. They're all doing the whole white flight thing. As if these facts aren't enough, there's all the statistics now yet whites are still in denial. It's ridiculous how whites are in denial even when given statistics. Just about every person on this page (likely white) was in denial.



blacks commit most of the hate crimes.