Author: Wilfred Reilly

The Hate-Crime Epidemic That Never Was: A Seattle Case Study

The Seattle Times recently reported that an epidemic of hate crimes is taking place in the Emerald City. According to the newspaper, more than 500 bias incidents were reported to Seattle police in 2018 alone, and this figure represents “an increase of nearly 400 percent since 2012.” However, this widely circulated claim is, at the very least, misleading. An examination of the Seattle data indicates that fewer than 40 actual criminal cases resulting from real, serious hate incidents were successfully prosecuted between 2012 and 2017. This provides an excellent case study of how media coverage of flash-point issues such as hate crime can—whether intentionally or not—sensationalize and exaggerate the urgency of social problems. In the Times piece, headlined “Reported Hate Crimes and Incidents up Nearly 400% in Seattle Since 2012,” reporter Daniel Beekman suggests that the problem continues to get worse, estimating that since 2017 alone, hate cases have jumped 25 percent. He also reports that “community organizations say hate crimes are a serious issue,” and cites sources claiming that “more support from the city” …