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03/28/2007

Defending a hate-less world, yet again

by Jeremy Hooper

In reference to a recent piece in which we defended proposed hate crimes legislation against misrepresentations put forth by the Traditional Values Coalition, we today received the following response in the article's comment section:

I thought that because of all of the highlights in your article you were going to "put someone right"!

It appears to me as though you are acting just as the people that you are speaking of and highlighting there in red type. You are making something of nothing just as I believe Representative Conyers is doing.

You yourself say that you moved to NYC because of a perceived "decrease in the chance of gay bias” and that was “a major motivating factor” behind your move".

I personally believe you chose NYC because it is a place where Gay Men and Women are known to live in large numbers, though I don’t know you personally.
I do know Gay Men and Women and most times NYC or Dupont Circle come up in conversation as places of interest. I don't find that an interesting argument against rural living at all. I believe you are just as likely to be accosted there as in any other Major City and perhaps more so than in a rural area where there are more places to be free to be what you wish to be.

I went to the site linked to in your article where you said you quoted the FBI hate crimes statistics. I found the following there:

In 2005, 12,417 agencies participated in the UCR Program’s hate crime program and submitted 1 to 12 months of data about bias-motivated crime. Of those agencies, 2,037 (16.4 percent) reported 7,163 incidents.
The remaining 83.6 percent of participating agencies reported that no hate crimes occurred in their jurisdictions in 2005.

A far cry from your statistical evidence I think

It simply looks to me that you would like a Special law because you believe you are somehow more entitled to protection than say, me!

I have to disagree with your argument and hope others do as well. I hope there is no unnecessary legislation creating FEDERAL Laws where none need be created, in my opinion.

Hate is hate no matter who is the victim, but not all assault is hate and no simple assault needs to be a special federal crime. A Law stating that the perpetrator is punished more severely that they would for any other such assault is simply unjust.

Injustice can not be remedied by taking turns at being unjust
– L. Edward Williams, 1974

JMHO,

L.W.

Okay, so let's take this point by point. First off, we would never be so bold as to say we were going to do something like "put someone right." What we do is highlight the attacks that are launched on our community by folks like the Traditional Values Coalition, respond with our heart, throw in a little wit, then mix and bake until golden brown. We leave it up to the reader to decide which commentary they find more reasoned, and we invite discourse such as the one posted above.

Secondly, we are not making "something of nothing." The Traditional Values Coalition has launched several offensive attacks on Conyers' proposed legislation. We happen to support H.R. 1592. As such, we are participating in the political process, defending a bill that we deem righteous from strikes that we view as flawed and unprincipled. We are making "something of something."

Next up: Why, L.W., do you think that gay men and women are known to "live in large numbers" in urban areas like NYC? Do you think we simply dislike grass? Enjoy smog? Find traffic and noise to be far more conducive to peace than tractors and crickets? No. While big cities draw in folks from all walks of life due to their cultural offerings, careers opportunities, and access to goods and services, they draw in the gay community for another reason: Peace of mind! It is completely short-sighted to deny that legacies of urban acceptance have more than a little something to do with the migration patterns of the big city-bound homosexual. Now, this is not to say that all rural locales are intolerant and teeming with bias (which we also acknowledged in the initial piece). However, from this writer's own personal experience, as well as those of countless gay men and women who have shared their own stories with him, it is highly accurate to say that leaving small town America for more progressive areas (not necessarily even urban ones) is a common gay trend.

Moving on to hate crime stats: Our response in regards to hate crime stats was to TVC's claim:

FBI hate crime statistics from 2005 (the latest available) report only 1,171 cases of sexual orientation bias against individuals. Of those, 301 were listed as “intimidation,” which is name-calling. Another 333 were listed as “simple assault,” which is pushing or shoving. Only 177 were listed as aggravated assault against a person because of his sexual orientation.

This is the fact they put forth, thus the one to which we responded. L.W., your own stat is only in regards to who did and did not participate in the reporting. For the purposes of our response, this stat is irrelevant. Of the agencies who DID report biased-based crimes, the breakdowns still stay in the same proportions that we mentioned:

--55.7 percent of the victims were targeted because of a bias against a race.

--16.0 percent were victimized because of a bias against a religious belief.

--14.0 percent were victimized because of a bias against an ethnicity/national origin.

--13.8 percent were targeted because of a bias against a particular sexual orientation.

--0.6 percent were targeted because of a bias against a disability.

In the sector of hate crimes state, L.W., you make it sound as if we misrepresented data, which is widely inaccurate and just a little offensive! Even one hate crime is one too many. We would hope that you would agree that biased-based incidents against ethnicity, disability, race, or religious belief should be stamped out. The same goes for ones based on sexual orientation. H.R. 1592, only seeks to expand protections (and remove the current prerequisite requiring proof that victims were attacked because of engaging in "federally protected activities"). Collectively with measures already in place, it would work to stem the tide of ALL crimes of violence where the perp has selected the victim because of the person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

As for the claim that gays are pushing this measure because we believe we are somehow better than you -- well, clearly you have renewed your subscription to "Pro-Family" Taking Points Monthly! But what we truly believe is that all people are deserving of protection. What we truly know first-hand is that gay bias is still alive and (un)well in this country. H.R. 1592 would only protect the LGBT community from hate in the same way that other minority sects are already protected. If a 75-year-old caucasian man and a 25-year-old gay man wearing a gay pride flag as a shirt are both mugged, it's only going to be a different scenario if the perp also proceeds to say "Give me your money, fag" to the gay man before kicking him and calling him a "queer." The judicial system is not going to be thrown away at the hands of the "gay agenda." We want accuracy in terms of punishment as much as anyone else.

You say in your final quote: "Injustice can not be remedied by taking turns at being unjust" Upon reading this, our first thought was that "cannot" should be one word in this instance. Looking past that, however, we couldn't help but think that we wholeheartedly agree with these words that you are obviously using to try and make a contrary point. We guess where we differ is that we view the lack of protections currently offered to the LGBT community as "unjust," and we view this oversight as an injustice. We view ALL biased-based discrimination and violence as unjust, and we don;t think we can pick and choose which are more worthy of address. For someone who is gay and has had that life experience, it is almost absurd to be told that bias is not still a problem that our community faces. We are speaking in favor of H.R. 1592, because we wish for the unjust acts of hate committed against the LGBT community to be seen as just as much as an injustice as those committed against anyone.

Thanks for writing, L.W. Feel free to respond to any or all points.

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Your thoughts

What continually gets me about the groups screaming against hate crimes legislation is that they harp on the myth that adding sexual orientation is making homosexuals a protected class. The wording in this, and just about any other hate crimes legislation, means that if an EEEEEvil gay person is beating a straight person while yelling "Goddamn Breeder Sonofabitch!" it's a hate crime. So, even the most moral fringes of the TVC would be protected by the law.

I understand how hard it is to understand this concept, because it's hard to find documented cases wherein gangs of gays and lesbians wandered suburban malls specifically to find a straight kid to beat the crap out of just for, you know, being straight. But if it happened? Hate crime.

You don't suppose the TVC are hoping the people they're asking to lobby against the don't actually bother to read it or understand it or anything? Nah, the TVC would never EVER assume their "fanbase" was too stupid and lazy to think for themselves.

Posted by: Auntie Matter | Mar 28, 2007 3:42:36 PM

Where is these people's outrage over the Special protections given to people on the basis of their religion.

I have YET to see them complain about ANY of the provisions of hate crimes legislation UNTIL someone has the audacity to want to add sexual orientation to the LONG list of people ALREADY covered.

As far as their ad nauseam complaint that there simply aren't enough recorded incidences of anti-gay hate crime, just look at some of the people that are ALREADY covered in ALREADY EXISTING hate crimes legislation. Some of the groups covered I have NEVER heard of being victims of hate crimes resulting specifically from them being a part of such a group.

This just goes to show that their arguments are only fronts to disguise their actual issue which is protecting the right to verbally and physically attack gay people for the distinct purpose of keeping them in their place.

Their front line of keeping gays in their place is keeping them in the closet. With more and more people coming out they find it more and more necessary to use what ever tactic available to push them back in or keep the ones who haven't come out yet, forever closeted.

Out, proud and fearless gays and lesbians are their worst nightmare!

I'm ecstatic to be the "Freddy" in their "Nightmare on Elm Street".

Posted by: Zeke | Mar 29, 2007 1:16:10 PM

I think we Christians should be allowing the pagans to practice whatever they want. Informing of our ideals satisfies.
The Second Coming will come sooner maybe.

Posted by: Kilf Crits | May 1, 2007 10:35:49 PM

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