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In '74, White House crimes were a small percentage too -- they were still wrong

by Jeremy Hooper

 Good As You Images Picture-4-57 1In a recent commentary in which he once again decried hate crimes legislation, conservative columnist Chuck Colson included the following stat:

"...according to the FBI, crimes against homosexuals in the United States have dropped dramatically in recent years. In 2005, out of 863,000 cases of aggravated assault, just 177 cases were crimes of bias against homosexuals—far less than even 1 percent."

Well, it would seem that Chuck Colson is about as bad at correctly representing FBI crime data as he is at carrying out and covering up presidential scandals. Here's why:

First off: As you can see from this table, he is pretty accurate in describing the total number of aggravated assaults that took place in 2005:
However, this figure includes any "unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury." We live in a violent world. This number covers a WIDE range of serious offenses of all stripes. But it is VERY unfair to use that total number when talking about bias-motivated incidents. Let's move on to that data to further explain why.

In 2005, there were 8,380 reported incidents that were classified as "hate crimes." Of that number, 1062 were classified as aggravated assault. And of the 1,062, here's how the numbers broke down per targeted group:


So if we want to play a game of who's more deserving: With 177 incidents, gays ranked above Hispanics, people of all religions combined, Asians, and various other groups for acts of reported aggravated assault. In fact, it's only people who were targeted for their skin color or national origin who were, as a collective, targeted more that the LGBT community. The only difference? The LGBT community is not yet protected in ways that many of these other groups already are!

The thing is, of the 863,000 reported incidents of aggravated assaults that Colson cites, there is no telling how many of the victims were gay, just not targeted because of their sexual orientation. So it's not like these 177 were the only gay people who were harmed by aggravated assault in 2005. But what we are talking in terms of hate crimes legislation are TARGETED, BIAS-MOTIVATED incidents. Considering that even by the highest of estimations, the LGBT community only makes up a small fraction of the population, it should set off great alarm that these stats show we were represented in such ways. This is especially true considering that gay bias attacks are far more likely to go unreported by the victim, as many of the assaulted may be closeted, afraid of being a public face of gay hate, etc.

Look, nobody is saying that of all the horrible acts of aggravated assault that are committed in this country, gay aggravated assault makes up a HUGE fraction. What we are saying is that all bias is wrong (which our heart tells us), gay bias makes up a sizable portion of bias crime (which the facts tell us), and that we all have an interest to thwart it, as it has horrible implications for society.

If Mr. Colson wanted to make a more accurate statement, he would have said:

"In 2005, out of 1,062 cases of bias-motivated aggravated assault, 177 cases were against LGBT people—around 16.7 percent!"

Or he could have said:

"In 2005, out of 8,380 total bias-motivated offenses, 1171 cases were against LGBT people—around 14 percent!"

But then again, those numbers would not have been nearly as convenient to his cause.

The Thought Police [BreakPoint]

**UPDATE: Both this writer and Mr. Colson did make one shared mistake. The reported aggravated assaults against the LGBT community actually totaled 174 (not 177), as 3 were based on a heterosexual orientation. For total offenses bases on sexual orientation, 23 were against heterosexuals. So make our above stats:

"In 2005, out of 1,062 cases of bias-motivated aggravated assault, 174 cases were against LGBT people—around 16.4 percent!"

"In 2005, out of 8,380 total bias-motivated offenses, 1148 cases were against LGBT people—around 13.7 percent!"

**UPDATE2: It should also be noted that gender identity motivation is not specifically tracked by this data. Those of us who actually know transgender people are fully aware that they are often the ones who face the most frightening forms of bias-motivated violence.

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Your thoughts

It's very telling that there were zero anti-protestant attacks. Makes one wonder the reason for all the whining we hear from the religious reich.

Posted by: TomTallis | May 5, 2007 3:03:46 AM

Make that 174 attacks. 3 of those 177 were against straight people.

Posted by: Lesley | May 6, 2007 12:58:45 PM

Oh Lesley, you're right I'll make a correction. Thanks for the catch.

Posted by: G-A-Y | May 6, 2007 5:24:28 PM

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