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Monday, March 11, 2002
Creating news
According to the New York Times, there has been a rash of anti-South Asian hate crimes (Link requires registration.) in the last six months. Interestingly, the story cites a report "to be released on Monday," which raises some questions about the entanglement of advocacy groups and the media. But the big problem is that the report doesn't say anything at all. It has an impressive statistic: 250 incidents in the last 3 months of 2001, four times the typical rate of 400-500 incidents for a year.

Of course, read further and it's clear that there's no there there. The statistic involves incidents which were reported as bias incidents; it's quite logical to assume that reporting would have gone up significantly after 9/11, given all the attention paid to the potential problem. Moreover, it uses the classic advocacy group tactic of lumping together different times of problems and discussing the total number as though they were all the worst type. So in this case, there were 250 incidents, "including racial slurs, threatening phone calls and homicides."

It's the magic of the conjunction. After 9/11, fifty thousand people bought such items as nuclear weapons, mustard gas, and bottled water. Half of all marriages end in ways including divorce, annulment and the murder of a spouse. Two hundred million Americans suffer from such diseases as cancer, AIDS, and the flu.

But I shouldn't minimize the situation. After all, many of the victims cited in the report suffered tremendously: " In many instances, frightened drivers reported being targeted on the road by other drivers who would point fingers at them as if they were carrying guns." Uh oh. Those finger hate crimes.

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