For one thing, it's a tiny sliver (about eight ten-thousandths) of the crimes committed in the U.S. that year (11.6 million)--and it's a number that's been dropping, along with the overall crime rate, for several years now. For another, most of the incidents that go into that number aren't what most people think of when they think of "hate crimes." Most offenses are low-level; a third fall into the nebulous category called "intimidation" (that's when someone says they felt intimidated or demeaned). Out of 15,517 murders in the U.S., just 19 were found to be hate crimes--and only two were based on "sexual orientation." We know the name of Matthew Shepard not because his case is representative of something common, but precisely because it's so rare.

Of course, even when gays are victims of crimes, there's no reason to connect them to religious objections to homosexuality. Studies show that most offenders are young thugs; gays don't live in fear of roving bands from Campus Crusade for Christ. In fact, a Justice Department report shows gays are far more likely to be victims of violence by other gays. The study found a yearly average of 13,740 men and 16,900 women victims of violence by same-sex "intimate partners." (Those who are interested can find the info here, on page 9.)

This tendency (if not the numbers) is well known among homosexuals. "Domestic violence is the third largest health problem facing the gay and lesbian community today," says Susan Holt, coordinator of the domestic-violence unit of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. "[It] trails only behind AIDS and substance abuse. . . . in terms of sheer lethality."

It's a safe bet the University of Maryland won't be imparting any of this information to its students. That's not because it would minimize the evil of real crimes against gays. It's because they'd just as soon social attitudes toward homosexuality be presented in simplistic terms: "tolerance" vs. (pick your favorite pejorative) "hate" or "ignorance" or "fear."

Any evidence that things are more complex than that would make matters a lot more difficult for gay activists. They'd have to debate homosexuality on its merits. They'd have to deal with a range of serious arguments against it--religious (it violates God's design), social (it undermines our understanding of the family, the foundation of society), psychological (it stems not from a healthy sources but from emotional damage), and even medical (it's just plain unhealthy).

No wonder the progressive folk at Maryland prefer to distribute the likes of The Laramie Project. It deals in emotional manipulation and attitude adjustment; it largely spares students exposure to any information that might hinder the development of politically correct perspectives. In short, in the guise of "education," the university's trying to keep students from thinking for themselves.

P> Matt Kaufman is editor of Boundless Webzine. Copyright © 2002 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.