Interpreting the FBI’s 2009 hate crime report

Hate crime legislation is a topic that seems to rile people up. The Atlantic provides five sources that try to summarize and make sense of the latest annual data released by the FBI:

Agence France-Presse reports that “out of 6,604 hate crimes committed in the United States in 2009, some 4,000 were racially motivated and nearly 1,600 were driven by hatred for a particular religion … Blacks made up around three-quarters of victims of the racially motivated hate crimes and Jews made up the same percentage of victims of anti-religious hate crimes.” The report also notes that “anti-Muslim crimes were a distant second to crimes against Jews, making up just eight percent of the hate crimes driven by religious intolerance.” Finally, the report notes a drop in hate crimes overall: “Some 8,300 people fell victim to hate crimes in 2009, down from 9,700 the previous year.”

This is a reminder that there is a lot of data out there, particularly generated by government agencies, but we need qualified and skilled people to interpret its meaning.

You can find the data on hate crimes at the FBI website of uniform crime reports. Here is the FBI’s summary of the incidents, 6,604 in all.

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