Posts Tagged ‘statistics’

HRC — “Anti-Trans Violence Epidemic!”

November 25, 2019

This week a new report came across our desk, “A National Epidemic: Fatal Anti-Transgender Violence in the United States in 2019,” produced by Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a large LGBTQ advocacy group headquartered in Washington, DC.

The HRC calls the document “…a distressing report honoring the at least 22 transgender people and gender non-conforming people killed in 2019 and detailing the contributing factors that lead to this tragic violence.” The implication is that these tragic deaths were all somehow hate-related, and definitely anti-Trans related, and some indeed were. Predictably, the Media picked up on the story and reprinted it faithfully, without vetting the claims.

Nobody should ever be a victim of crime, especially a hate crime or murder.

A closer look at the report shows that while it does indeed honor 22 people who died, it does little to “detail the contributing factors,” and even indulges in a little old fashioned fudging to inflate the numbers.

To be fair, the HRC is registered as a 501(c)(4) Social Welfare Organization with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), as opposed to a 501(c)(3) “action organization,” like the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and many other Hate Industry players. The only restrictions on 501(c)(4) organizations is that they “…must not be organized for profit and must be operated exclusively to promote social welfare.” As such, they are allowed to lobby lawmakers openly, whereas groups like the SPLC have to resort to more covert measures to protect their all-important tax-exempt status. More on the HRC to follow.

The report puts great emphasis on the facts that most of the people honored were Black trans women, under the age of 30 and living predominantly in the South. While these claims hold true for the people in the report, they are largely irrelevant compared to other factors.

Stats

The repeated emphasis on race alone implies that racism was a leading factor in the deaths, but a simple Google search of the deceased and those arrested in connection with their deaths proves this claim to be patently unfounded.

Nothing sells as surely as claims of racism these days, though, and so the HRC and the Media are happy to imply.

Homicides1

Homicides2

Homicides3
Homicides4
homicides5-e1574693712812.jpg
Homicides6Again, nobody should ever be a victim of crime, especially a hate crime or murder.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black homicide victims significantly outnumber all other groups, for a variety of reasons, regardless of gender identity. The vast majority of those charged in Black homicides tend to be Black as well.HomicideRatesUS

The HRC makes the case that age is a mitigating factor:

Age1

A review of homicide statistics from 2018 shows that people under the age of 35 make up the largest share of ALL victims in the US.

Age2

The HRC report makes the case that geography may be a contributing factor, and here they may have a point, but not necessarily the one they are claiming.

Location

Location2

As the first pie chart indicates, the 2019 HRC report includes statistics going back to 2013, claiming more than 150 trans deaths over six years, or roughly 25 deaths per year.

The second pie chart indicates the population distribution for the US in 2018 and the third the LGBTQ distribution for the same year. The two charts are nearly identical, statistically, indicating a fairly uniform distribution of LGBTQ persons across all geographic locations.

A more telling graphic, and the 2019 report overall, indicates that many of the victims lived in large cities.

Location3

Again, the HRC had to reach back six years to cobble together a statistic, but the mini-biographies of the 2019 victims show that many died in the cities listed above, as well as Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Montgomery, Memphis and Prince George’s County, Md. All of these locations have large Black populations and high annual homicide rates.

When your demographic group has far higher than average homicide rates and you choose to live in areas with far higher than average homicide rates, your odds of becoming a homicide victim become statistically higher.

Again, nobody should ever be a victim of crime, especially a hate crime or murder. We’re not “blaming the victims” here, We’re merely stating the obvious facts.

The HRC report implies that the 2019 victims died because of their transgender lifestyles, but a review of the cases indicates that, for the most part, their gender identity was not usually the motivating factor.

One exception to that rule is the fact that many transgender people, for a variety of socioeconomic reasons, are forced into the worlds of sex work and drug trafficking. The HRC report estimates that 13% to 36% of the victims may have engaged in sex work, though this figure may be conservative. The fact remains that street sex and drug dealing are highly dangerous activities.

Several of the victims were found shot to death in cars or isolated locations, late at night. While sex work is dangerous enough, transgender sex workers also run the risk of violence from johns who do not realize from the outset that the victim is transgender.

As we noted with the victims’ photos above, there is nothing to confirm that most of them died specifically for being transgender. One victim was killed while standing with a crowd of other people. Police say the shooter fired into the crowd from half a block away without targeting anyone specifically.

In a similar incident, Jordan Cofer, the only white and only transgender male listed in the report, was killed when his brother, Connor Betts, went on a shooting spree in Dayton in August, 2019, killing nine and wounding 27 more. Evidence showed that Betts had no political or racial motives for the attack. He was just a sick man who wanted to commit a mass shooting.

Another victim, described in the report as being homeless, was found in the charred remains of burned out abandoned house. Another was shot in a domestic dispute where her mother accused a man of stealing her tax refund check. John Booth, 61, allegedly pulled out a handgun and shot the victim, who was trying to defend her mother.

Jazzaline Ware, as even the HRC report mentions, died of natural causes and the report also notes that Jamagio Berryman did not identify as transgender, used he/him pronouns, and yet they too were added to the list to pad out the numbers.

So, if race and gender identity are not necessarily mitigating factors in the death of these transgender people, what is behind the Human Rights Campaign annual claim of an “epidemic” of transgender violent deaths?

As with the Southern Poverty Law Center and all Hate Industry “advocacy groups” the main purpose appears to be fundraising. There are tens of millions of donor-dollars to be gleaned by selling fear and outrage to well-meaning Progressives.

HRC online 2018 tax returns show that the organization started 2019 with 289 employees. Its president, Chad Griffin was paid $502,000 that year. Vice President Joni Madison was paid almost $302,000 and, oddly enough, Assistant Vice President Cathy Nelson pulled down $340,000. Thirteen other staffers, from lawyers to PR people to secretaries, are listed, all with six-digit salaries ranging from $262,000 to a paltry $190,000.

That’s a lot of overhead to cover, even before you pay the other 270 employees. That money has to come from somewhere.

Like the SPLC and other Hate Industry players, the Human Rights Campaign partakes in the popular “joint costs” canard, in which over $9 million dollars in fundraising costs were attributed to other departments. Some third-party fundraisers hired by the HRC took up to 84% of donations for themselves while several others charged way more than they took in, essentially keeping every dime they raised in the name of the HRC without the donors ever realizing it, a long-held SPLC practice.

Most of the HRC’s annual expenses go to lobbying lawmakers for pro-LGBT causes, which we do not have a problem with, per se. What concerns us is that, just like the SPLC’s exploitation of genuine hate crime victims, Heather Heyer of the Charlottesville riots, and “the Civil Rights Martyrs,” the Human Rights Campaign seems to have no qualms whatsoever in invoking the names of dead transgender victims and others in crass fundraising campaigns.

While nobody should ever be the victim of a crime, especially a hate crime or murder, an average of 25 victims a year, among a demographic of a million and a half estimated members does not an “epidemic” make. Among the 14,500 confirmed homicides in 2018, these unfortunates make up less than two-tenths of one percent.

The FBI gives the average US homicide rate at 5.1 victims per 100,000 citizens per year. Under that estimate, the Trans population of 1.5 million should see 77 homicides a year, as opposed to an average of 25, just for being American citizens.

The FBI gives the Black homicide rate at 20.4 victims per 100,000 per year. Under that estimate, the Black Trans population should see 308 homicides per year on average, just by virtue of being Black and young.

The National Weather Service estimates that 49 Americans are killed by lightning strikes each year across all demographics, meaning that the average transgender person is twice as likely to be struck by lightning than to be murdered for their gender identity.

As “epidemics” go, the HRC’s claims are pretty thin.

Watching the Watchdogs has added HRC to our watch list. Stay tuned.

 

SPLC — “Violent Hate Crime up in 2018!”

November 15, 2019

Nobody should ever be the victim of a crime, especially a hate crime.

Earlier this week, the Southern Poverty Law Center issued a press release making the claim that “New FBI report shows increase in violent hate crime in 2018.” As usual, the claim was picked up and repeated by the Media, and, as usual, a simple review of the source data shows that the SPLC’s claim is, shall we say, less than accurate.

In ancient times, this simple review would be known as “journalism.”

The report, authored by out-going SPLC Intelligence Project Director Heidi Beirich (more on that later), opens with a very subtle rewording of the original headline, citing the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) report for 2018, “Although the FBI report released today shows a minuscule decline in all hate crimes in 2018, it shows a 12 percent rise in hate crimes involving violence [emphasis added].”

The rewording, from “violent hate crimes” to “hate crimes involving violence” is so subtle as to be elegant. Here is what the FBI UCR actually says:

2017 2018 FBI UCR Hate Crimes - Persons

As the highlighted cells show, there was a 12% increase in the number of “crimes against persons” reported in 2018, however, violent crimes, such as murder and rape were virtually unchanged and there were 30 more aggravated assaults reported over 2017, or an increase of 4%. The FBI defines aggravated assault as:

Aggravated Assault—An unlawful attack by one person upon another wherein the offender uses a weapon or displays it in a threatening manner, or the victim suffers obvious severe or aggravated bodily injury involving apparent broken bones, loss of teeth, possible internal injury, severe laceration, or loss of consciousness.

This also includes assault with disease (as in cases when the offender is aware that he/she is infected with a deadly disease and deliberately attempts to inflict the disease by biting, spitting, etc.)

Nobody should ever be the victim of a crime, especially a hate crime.

The UCR report does show an increase in simple assaults, defined as:

Simple Assault—An unlawful physical attack by one person upon another where neither the offender displays a weapon, nor the victim suffers obvious severe or aggravated bodily injury involving apparent broken bones, loss of teeth, possible internal injury, severe laceration, or loss of consciousness

No weapon. No obvious bodily injury. Any incident where one party lays hands on another, such as pushing or shoving, qualifies as a simple assault, though calling that a violent crime is quite a stretch, even for the SPLC.

A drunken fist fight outside a bar at midnight might meet Dr. Beirich’s claim of a crime with violence, but it hardly qualifies as a lynching. The UCR report does not break its simple assault incidents into hard categories. There is no way to sort out the truly violent incidents from the others.

The other category showing an increase of 232 incidents over 2017 is intimidation:

Intimidation—To unlawfully place another person in reasonable fear of bodily harm through the use of threatening words and/or other conduct, but without displaying a weapon or subjecting the victim to actual physical attack

By definition, there is no violence involved in intimidation. These incidents may qualify as “crimes against persons” (making up a full 45% of that category) but not as crimes with violence and definitely not as violent crimes. While nobody should ever be placed in fear of harm, intimidation is entirely subjective.

Another major factor to consider is that while the UCR reports alleged “incidents,” these incidents are not actual crimes, even hate crimes, until determined by a court of law. In many cases, charges are dropped or never filed at all. The UCR’s Methodology section highlights the inherent difficulties in proving deliberate bias in a crime:

Because motivation is subjective, it is sometimes difficult to know with certainty whether a crime resulted from the offender’s bias. Moreover, the presence of bias alone does not necessarily mean that a crime can be considered a hate crime. Only when a law enforcement investigation reveals sufficient evidence to lead a reasonable and prudent person to conclude that the offender’s actions were motivated, in whole or in part, by his or her bias, should an agency report an incident as a hate crime.

At the end of the day, the 2018 UCR shows only a minor uptick in alleged violent crimes with 30 more aggravated assault claims in 2018 over 2017. There were 232 more simple assault claims over the same period but there is no way to determine shoving matches from fist fights, and even then, any serious violence would have elevated the incident to an aggravated assault.

In short, there’s not a lot here to base any serious claims of increased violent hate crimes based on an increase of alleged hate “incidents.” Heidi Beirich knows this, but her customer base, the Media and SPLC donors, are shopping for fear and outrage and Dr. B. is only to happy to accommodate them.

Interestingly, Dr. Beirich notes that “About 27 percent of all hate crimes in 2018 – the largest share among all categories – were motivated by anti-black bias.” This would seem to indicate that three-quarters of all alleged incidents, (not necessarily actual crimes) were NOT directed at blacks, which would seem like a positive.

Ironically, the same FBI UCR report claims that at least 24% of the accused perpetrators were black. In fact, the SPLC claims that black “hate groups” make up 23% of the alleged total, and the “largest share among all categories,” nationwide. Apparently, those stats are not as important as Beirich’s “27 percent” claim. There’s no outrage to be gained.

While Dr. Beirich’s claim of a 12% increase in “crimes with violence” seems significant, she writes off the corresponding 15% drop in alleged hate crimes against property in 2018 as “minuscule.”

Speaking of crimes against property, it is worth noting that not all “hate incidents” in the UCR report are created equal.

2017 2018 FBI UCR Hate Crimes - Property

Crimes against property make up 37% of the 2018 incident total right off the top (all confirmable non-violent alleged incidents make up 65% of the total, which does not include non-violent simple assaults).

While we can see how one could make a case for bias-related arson, some robberies and targeted vandalism, we are admittedly at a loss as to how stealing one’s car or burglarizing one’s home are hate crimes. The same is true of Crimes against Society, which, according to the FBI, are “typically victimless crimes” that include gambling, prostitution and drug dealing.

Dr. Beirich’s “report” closes with the obligatory anti-Trump allegation and her boilerplate claim that “250,000 people are victimized by hate crimes every year.” Since Heidi Beirich announced a few weeks ago that she is leaving the scandal-ridden company she has served for twenty years, we want to sincerely wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors.

For the past ten years, Dr. Beirich and her former boss, Mark Potok, have given us here at Watching the Watchdogs more information, more fodder, more smoking guns as to the inner workings of the Southern Poverty Law Center and lesser Hate Industry players. Due to Mr. Potok’s abrupt and mysterious departure from the company a few years ago, we were not able to wish him a proper fond farewell, but for Dr. Beirich we have this parting gift:

Let us assume that the good doctor’s estimate of 250,000 hate crime victims a year, which, as we have seen, includes people who were shoved, called bad names, had their car stolen, bought weed on the street and/or hired a hooker, is spot on, with no questions asked.

That statistic works out to .07%, or seven hundredths of one percent, of the current US population. Hate crimes really do happen. Your odds of being a victim of a hate crime are extremely small. Your odds of being a victim of a violent hate crime, even using Dr. Beirich’s “generous” statistics are infinitesimal.

Nobody should ever be the victim of a crime, especially a hate crime.

Bon voyage, Heidi. You will be missed.

How Fake News is Made

January 15, 2019

First off, a statement of fact: Donald Trump is a lightning rod. People either really, really love him or really, really despise him. There just aren’t that many folks in the middle. Knowing this, companies, institutions and media organizations on BOTH sides of the political aisle exploit these passionate extremes to great profit.

Donald Trump says and does a lot of [insert adjective(s) here] things that get him a lot of attention, both positive and negative. He’s very good at this and really doesn’t need any help at it. This has not stopped the Hate Industry (or Trump supporters) from fabricating stories about the man so they could cash in on the outrage.

In early 2017, just weeks after his inauguration, a wave of bomb threats were made against Jewish community centers across the US. The Hate Industry and their media stooges swore that this was irrefutable evidence that white supremacists and anti-Semites “were emboldened” by Trump’s election, until it was discovered that the real culprits were a Black man attempting to frame his white ex-girlfriend and an Israeli teenage hacker. Whoosh! The Memory Hole opened and swallowed the story. Nothing to see here.

The Ku Klux Klan was “emboldened” to spray paint “Vote Trump” on the side of a Black church in Jackson, Mississippi, before burning it down, and neo-Nazi arsonists boldly painted “Heil Trump!” on the side of a church in Bloomington, Indiana, before setting it ablaze. Heinous hate crimes that could be traced irrefutably back to President Trump, except for the annoying facts that the first church fire was set by a Black parishioner and the second by its openly gay organist.

Do you recall the avalanche of corrections and retractions that filled the media in the following days? Us neither.

The excellent website, fakehatecrimes.org, has logged over a hundred hate crime hoaxes committed since Election Day, 2016, many of which were explicitly claimed to be Trump-related, until they weren’t.

And the beat goes on. Just last week many “legitimate” media sources breathlessly regurgitated a “report” by two University of Virginia academics who claimed that they had proof that teasing and bullying in middle schools across Virginia had “risen by 9%” in 2017, specifically in areas that had voted for Donald Trump. Did any of the media experts actually examine the report before reprinting the claims? Not so much.

And really, why would they? Even if the story turned out to be inaccurate it’s still solid gold click bait. And when these stories are disproved, they simply go away. No messy cleanup required.

Francis L. Huang and Dewey G. Cornell based their claims on a set of three surveys they have administered to roughly 155,000 seventh- and eighth-grade students across Virginia in 2013, 2015 and 2017, that asks the students their opinions about bullying and teasing in their schools. It’s a worthy effort and the data seems to be as good as any these kinds of instruments produce. It’s worth noting that the results are agnostic, with no sign whatsoever of the terms Obama, Trump, Republican or Democrat to be found.

The problem lies in the way in which Huang and Cornell interpreted the data in their subsequent 2018 report, “School Teasing and Bullying After the Presidential Election.” In that report, the pair claimed an increase in responses to the statement: “Students in this school are teased or put down because of their race or ethnicity” in the 2017 survey over the previous one. So far, so good.

The duo then take it one step farther by claiming that they have discovered a correlation between the increase in responses and those schools residing in Republican districts. Here is where things start to break down.

Survey results were broken down by eight separate regions across the Commonwealth and numbered 1 through 8. While the percentages of students who answered yes to the “teased because of their race or ethnicity” prompt did increase significantly, the data shows that this is a trend that began during the Obama Administration and shows sizable increases between 2013 and 2015. Where is that “report”?

According to Huang and Cornell’s own data, teasing in the Shenandoah Valley jumped by 63% in President Obama’s second term. Statewide, teasing increased by 35% under POTUS 44. Where’s the outrage over that?

percentages1

In other news, outright bullying, a separate measure from mere teasing, rocketed under President Obama and actually dropped under President Trump, according to Cornell and Huang.

percentages2

Affirmative responses to the prompts “I have been bullied,” “I have been cyber bullied,” and “I have bullied others,” exploded statewide between 2013 and 2015, by 150%, 167% and an unbelievable 220% respectively!

Obviously, it’s pretty easy to cherry-pick data points to put any kind of slant you want into your “report.” Remember the adage about “lies, damned lies, and statistics”? And as we have stated numerous times on this blog, ANY TIME you see a percent symbol in the media, run, do not walk, to see the source documents. And after you’ve done that, follow the money. Who is going to profit from unsubstantiated claims and what consequences do they face if proven wrong?

This isn’t rocket science, folks. Anyone with an Internet connection can do it, providing they want to get at the truth.

Other inconsistencies not addressed in the Huang and Cornell piece include the facts that the three surveys are not identical (some questions are universal to all three, but not all), the 2017 survey includes sixth-graders for the first time, and that the 2017 survey was administered between February and April, when Donald Trump had been in office for less than 100 days, versus Barack Obama’s eight year administration.

If you’re going to blame Trump for teasing then you’re going to have to blame Obama as well.

Lastly, what conclusions did Huang and Cornell actually reach in their study? Despite the hundreds of headlines proclaiming “Trump Causes Teasing!,” the authors themselves concede:

“These findings are correlational and cannot establish a causal relationship but invite the need for further study.”

“The phrase “teasing and bullying” is used broadly in recognition that there are various forms of peer aggression and that student reports do not necessarily conform to an academic definition of bullying.”

“We did not have measures of the quality and intensity of peer aggression or its impact on victims.”

“It is obviously difficult to demonstrate a causal link between statements by a public figure and schoolyard bullying.”

Nobody, friend or foe, can deny that President Donald Trump says a lot of stupid, irrational and sometimes irresponsible things. There is more than enough controversy to go around without cooking up fake news like this malarkey.

Trust, but verify. It’s what used to be known as “journalism” in the old days.


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