I was reading this very long (and very interesting) article about hate speech by the Heritage Foundation, and they made the point that, even though the US currently has no laws against “hate speech”, the rate of hate crimes has been declining.
I did a double-take at that. Most of my news sources are from the liberal media, and I’ve constantly been hearing stories about a “massive wave of hate” that’s been sweeping the country as the consequence of our electing a president who is enthusiastic about border enforcement.
So I decided to look up statistics.
I don’t trust the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center), because I was reading their material and they mentioned that they considered it to be a “hate crime” when someone distributed flyers with which the SPLC disagreed, so they’re obviously drastically inflating their numbers. And the ACLU has gone completely insane — I read, on the ACLU website, that they filed a lawsuit to force public men’s rooms to provide free tampons because “men” need them.
So I got statistics on hate crimes from the website of the Department of Justice, the FBI, specifically. The data goes back to 1996. I got the US population for each year from Wikipedia in order to calculate hate crimes per million people.
The data does show two noticeable 1-year jumps of increasing hate crimes — a 16.3% increase after Trump was elected (much smaller than most people reading about that “massive wave of hate” would have expected), and a 19.4 jump in 2001, which was probably caused by hate crimes against Muslims in the wake of 9/11.
The second year of Trump’s presidency showed a tiny decrease in the rate of hate crimes, basically the level stayed constant.
But the trend that is really remarkable is that the level of hate crimes has been decreasing long term, pretty radically, as the Heritage article pointed out. Even after the post-Trump increase, the level of hate crimes is still nowhere near what it was pre-Obama, let alone during the Clinton years. So we have been getting better at getting along, in the absence of hate speech laws.
Bear in mind that these figures are for “hate crimes”, not murders. For example, of the 7,120 hate crimes in 2018, only 13 were murders and 2,641 were property crimes, mostly vandalism. Of the non-property crimes, 2,039 were acts of “intimidation” — often if not usually serious crimes, but it sounds like no one was actually injured.
So what does this mean for the wisdom of introducing “hate speech” laws? Suppose that hate speech laws would reduce the rate of hate crimes (I said suppose because I don’t think it would). Would muzzling 320 million people to prevent 1,054 incidents, most of which caused no physical injury to human beings, be justified?
The Heritage article makes another point — while most advocates of hate speech laws claim to be promoting a climate of dignity and respect, it is a false claim. For demographics considered to be “oppressors”, they really have absolutely no dignity in mind — in fact, their model of a healthy speech climate is one where they get to dump massive abuse on “oppressor” classes, who are to be forbidden to speak in self-defense.