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Planners From Hell -- Inflating hate crime

Subject:   Liars use hate crime stats to advance anti-democratic agendas
   Date:    Sun, 18 Oct 1998 10:58:29 -0400
   From:   "Timothy Bloedow" <lydia@travel-net.com>

Next City magazine — Fall, 1998

Planners From Hell

Inflating hate crime

EVERY YEAR, USUALLY IN THE SPRINGTIME, the Toronto Police Intelligence squad releases what has come to be known as its annual "hate crime" report. Unbeknownst to the public, however, the statistics in these reports have serious problems, including being wrong by a factor of over a hundred. In February for example, the Globe and Mail wrote: "A total of 187 hate crimes were reported in Toronto last year, a seven per cent increase." In reality, no one has been tried for a hate crime in Toronto in over 10 years. According to the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, the entire country has had but four hate crimes in the past 25 years, an incidence so low as to be statistically insignificant. How did we get from statistical insignificance to 187 hate crimes in a single city in one year?

The answer lies in the police's invention of a criminal offence. For the record, the Parliament of Canada — not your local police department — decides what constitutes a crime in this country. According to the Toronto Police Services Board, an official watchdog agency, these statistics do not represent hate crimes at all but far more common offences, such as assault, that, under the Criminal Code's Section 718.2, allows a judge to impose an increased penalty if hatred motivated an offence. Despite their apparent similarity, a hate crime and a hate-motivated crime bear no legal relation to each other. The former is an extremely serious criminal offence with constitutional implications involving rights to free expression, while the latter is a mere sentencing provision for other crimes.

Curiously enough, all the groups that originally asked the Toronto police to begin recording potential hate-motivated crimes — including the former Metropolitan Toronto's Anti-Racism Access and Equity Committee and the former City of Toronto's Mayor's Committee on Community and Race Relations — share a common political goal. They are working to repeal a Criminal Code provision requiring the Attorney General's permission to lay hate crime charges. This provision, designed to prevent vexatious or frivolous charges, prevents anyone from using the Criminal Code to silence political opponents. To justify their demands, these antiracism groups point to the massive increase in the number of reported "hate crimes," an increase that just happens to coincide with the very year (1993) that Toronto police began keeping records at their urging.

The groups characterize their request as nothing more than "tightening up" the existing hate crime law. But should they succeed, they would be able to initiate their own hate crime proceedings, effectively converting police "hate crime" units into a form of "speech police" who ferret out and silence incorrect political opinion. Editorial cartoonists, radio talk show hosts, religious leaders, and theatre producers would all find themselves facing the threat of arrest.

K. Alan Fenton

Being a shepherd is not a crime, 
shepherd bashing is.

Updated 1999 08 19
2001 02 02 (format changes)