The New York Police Department launched a hate crime investigation after posters of U.S. women’s soccer player Megan Rapinoe were vandalized at a train station in Manhattan on Monday.
Rapinoe became the hero of the U.S. women’s national soccer team’s run to a World Cup championship. She has used her platform to become a fierce advocate for feminist and social justice causes and to speak out against President Donald Trump,
According to the New York Post, a passenger at the station on Monday reported to police what was described as “anti-gay” graffiti on the posters of Rapinoe, who is a lesbian. In all, at least eight posters of the soccer star were vandalized.
Law enforcement sources told the Post that messages such as “shemale” and “screw this ho” were written on the posters.
In response, the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force opened an investigation into the incident. MTA authorities removed the graffiti and condemened the vandalism.
“Hate has no place in the transit system and we work hard to make the subway a welcoming, safe environment for everyone,” said MTA spokesman Shams Tarek. “We referred this to NYPD which responded to investigate, our maintenance teams got the posters cleaned and we will have them replaced with new ones if necessary.”
But some commenters questioned whether marshaling city resources to investigate the incident was merited in light of the fact that lewd graffiti on New York City subways is an extremely common, if distasteful, occurrence.
Conservative pundit Stephen Miller was particularly blunt.
Guys, it’s New York City. Every poster in the subways is graffitied with dicks. Walked by a poster of Billions at 8th ave station and Paul Giamatti has 2 dicks drawn on his forehead as devil horns. https://t.co/qgzCQPfdsL
— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) July 9, 2019
The Megan Rapinoe poster defacing comes amid a broader hate crime debate
In 2018, the FBI reported a 17 percent rise in hate crimes across the United States. Some 16 percent of those incidents involved people who were targeted because of their sexual orientation. Activists have pointed to the figures, as well as to cases like the Rapinoe incident, as evidence that society still has a long way to go in acknowledging the rights of LGBT persons.
But some skeptics urge against reading too deeply into conclusions drawn from hate crime data given the reporting methodology used to collect such information.
Reason’s Robby Soave argued in November that anyone talking about “hate crime increases” should keep one “critical detail” in mind: “The overall number of law enforcement agencies reporting hate crime data also increased greatly—approximately 1,000 additional agencies contributed figures in 2017 than in 2016.”
According to Soave, this means that “it’s not obviously the case that hate crimes are more prevalent in 2017.”
“Maybe the government just did a better job of counting them,” Soave wrote. He also noted that if “every agency reporting data for the first time in 2017 reported just one hate crime, this would account for the entire 17 percent increase.”
Kmele Foster, another libertarian commentator, also took issue with how hate crimes are classified during an appearance on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” in February.
“When we talk about hate crimes, we talk about there being 15 percent increases in these things–a hate crime is not the sort of thing that we can simply look at and say ‘It is absolutely a hate crime.’ There’s some supposition about that,” Foster said. “There is a great ambiguity about what makes something a hate crime. There are subjective determinations there.”
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