5 reasons to question Vancouver’s label as the ‘anti-Asian hate crime capital of North America’
October 22, 2021
By Vancouver Sun |
Some international media outlets this year labelled Vancouver “the anti-Asian hate crime capital of North America.”
They focused on a Vancouver police report that showed hate incidents against East Asians (not “Asians,” as the articles misstate) jumping by a startling 717 per cent in the year that COVID hit, up to 98 from 12.
Bloomberg, The Guardian and other media outlets then rushed to compare the Vancouver hate-crime unit’s data to figures from some large Canadian and U.S. cities and concluded that there had been more incidents in this relatively small West Coast city.
While it’s always essential to combat the scourge of hatred, many specialists are concerned that sensational and misleading characterizations of the residents of a city can misdirect blame and cause unnecessary fear.
Sgt. Val Spicer, of Vancouver police’s hate crimes unit, said in an article last week that it’s difficult to collect comparative data. Spicer said Vancouver is the only B.C. city with a police unit devoted to hate crimes, that it does more to encourage reporting than other cities, that Vancouver’s numbers are not much different than other Canadian cities, and that juxtaposing hate statistics between Canada and the U.S. is “comparing apples and oranges.”
1. It’s impossible to compare Canadian and American hate-crime stats
This is the most obvious problem in the reporting. Even the California academic who collected the data that led some media to declare Vancouver the capital of anti-Asian behaviour says you can’t directly compare hate crimes across the border.
Canada has more consistent and much broader laws against hate than the U.S., where, among other things, hateful speech is not a criminal offence. Dan Levin, of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, says U.S. methodologies are so inconsistent they can lead to a state like Alabama, which has a legacy of racism, reporting no hate crimes while Vancouver, population less than 700,000, reports dozens.