"The Annual Misuse of Hate Crime Statistics"

Mark Thompson points out a left-wing ritual:

[T]hese particular FBI statistics are virtually useless for evaluating year-to-year trends – always have been, always will be.  This year, the FBI itself went out of its way to warn against such readings, stating “our Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program doesn’t report trends in hate crime statsyearly increases or decreases often occur because the number of agencies who report to us varies from year to year.”

Yet in reporting an 11 percent increase in hate crimes against gays while lamenting a mere 1% decrease in race-based hate crimes, Think Progress and Feministing ignore this important disclaimer. 

This failure is significant because several hundred more law enforcement agencies participated in this year’s survey than last year’s survey: last year’s survey had the participation of 13,241 agencies, this year’s of 13,690.  Of those agencies, 2025 in 2007 and 2145 in 2008 actually reported any hate crimes.  This discrepancy in reporting agencies alone makes a worthwhile one-to-one, year-to-year comparison very difficult to make.  At a minimum, for the purposes of this year’s numbers, the discrepancy in reporting agencies accounts for somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of the apparent increase in hate crimes against gays.