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03/23/2007

TVC speaks on anti-hate measure; sadly, 'Yay, less cruel world!' is not their sentiment

by Jeremy Hooper

This week in the House, Rep. John Conyers once again introduced The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a piece of legislation that would give local police with federal resources to help curb violent crimes where the victim was targeted because of the person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

Eliminated bias-motivated crimes -- a principled goal, right?

Well, of course it is a righteous endeavor. However, whenever such a principled bill is suggested by a liberal lawmaker, all of the usual "pro-family" suspects immediately go into attack mode to try and convince their followers that the legislation is nothing more than pro-gay propaganda that would threaten religious freedom. And nobody is leading this campaign of misrepresentation more fully than the Traditional Values Coalition, who detail H.R. 1592 like this:

Pro-Homosexual/Drag Queen ‘Hate Crimes’ Bill Introduced

March 22, 2007 – Far left Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) has once again introduced his so-called “hate crimes” bill to provide special federal protection for homosexuality, cross-dressing, and transsexualism.

H.R. 1592, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007, is a rehash of his 2005 bill, according to sources in Congress.

H.R. 1592 claims there is an epidemic of “hate” against homosexuals and cross-dressers that is so pervasive throughout our nation, that local law enforcement officials are overwhelmed in dealing with the problem.

Okay, let's stop there. Uhm...a "bill to provide special federal protection for homosexuality, cross-dressing, and transsexualism?!" The bill is designed to eliminate biased-based crimes targeted towards any community, including evangelical Christian! It would expand protections that are already offered to other minority sects to the LGBT community, but not because that community is any better. It would so so because that community is unprotected! But of course TVC wants to use the words "cross dresser" and "drag queen" as much as possible, as they know that these are words that tend to freak our their readers even more than the words "gay" or "lesbian." So thus you get a headline calling this a "Pro-Homosexual/Drag Queen ‘Hate Crimes’ Bill." Ugh.

TVC goes on to say:

In addition, Conyers’ and his congressional cohorts claim – without any evidence whatsoever – that homosexuals, cross-dressers, etc., are so persecuted in their home states that they are fleeing into neighboring states to avoid persecution.

The legislation asserts that violence against these groups forces “such members to move across state lines to escape the incidence or risk of such violence.” Liberals also claim things are so bad for homosexuals, cross-dressers, etc., that these individuals are prevented “from purchasing goods and services; obtaining or sustaining employment, or participating in other commercial activity.”

The bogus claim that interstate travel is involved in “hate,” is needed by Conyers to invoke federal involvement in local law enforcement through the Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

“Conyers has created a whole false scenario about hordes of homosexuals and cross-dressers fleeing across state lines in order to justify his dangerous hate crimes bill,” said TVC Executive Director Andrea Lafferty. “If there is such a mass migration of homosexuals, cross-dressers and drag queens across state lines, I wonder why the mainstream media hasn’t reported on this national tragedy? Of course, the truth is that there is no migration of fear-filled drag queens or homosexuals crossing state lines to avoid being beaten up.”

Gays don't flee their hometown to get away from persecution? Tell ya what, TVC -- go to a gay function in Atlanta, Miami, New York, San Francisco, LA, or some other urban, gay-friendly area and take a poll of where most of the gays and lesbians you meet grew up. Well, actually, If you kids were to conduct such a poll, you'd surely skew the results, as such is your wont. However, if a fair person were to gauge the gay migration patterns, they would surely find that fleeing to a more progressive area is as much of a gay custom as being called, at some point in your life, a "fag" or a "dyke."

Hate can be found anywhere, and gay men and women are certainly persecuted in even the most progressive of areas. However, as a gay man who left a rural area for NYC at the first chance he got, this writer can emphatically tell you that a decrease in the chance of gay bias was a major motivating factor behind my move. It's just ridiculous to act as if America, especially in certain parts, is a place free of gay bias. It's even more offensive when it's a group who propagates such bias denying the existence of such!

TVC continues:

Contrary to what John Conyers claims, there is no epidemic of hate against individuals because of their sexual orientation. 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.

“In a nation of 300 million, the existence of 1,171 “hate crimes” against individuals hardly constitutes a national epidemic that is overwhelming local police departments or sheriff’s departments.

Okay, well let's look at those 2005 hate crime statistics. The breakdown is as such:

--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.

Would TVC dispute the necessity of protections for the disable since those only make up .6% of incidents? Well, we would hope not. Even one biased motivated crime is one too many. It's absurd for TVC to try and discredit such protections based on figures, or to try and qualify some of the incidents by making them look like they were just minor matters of name calling or shoving.

Also, it can't go without mention that many, many incidents go unreported for a number of reasons. We would even venture to guess that sexual orientation-based incidents go more unreported than others, as the victims are often closeted, not out to certain important people in their lives, fearful of how local authorities will react them if they say they were targeted because they are gay, scared their place of employment may react negatively, etc. Such fear of living openly is another reason why these protections are necessary for the betterment of society.

TVC then concludes their missive with this quote:

“The ultimate goal of Conyers’ bill is to silence all opposition to the homosexual/transgender political agenda. So-called ‘hate speech’ will be suppressed because it supposedly incites individuals to violence against homosexuals/ transgenders. Defined by homosexuals, hate speech is any verbal or printed materials that criticize the normalization of sodomy in our culture. The goal is to undermine the First Amendment and persecute Christians who oppose homosexuality” said Lafferty.

Oh, Ms. Lafftery. Hate-filled, intimidating, targeted, threatening acts are what we are talking about here. If you are engaging in the sorts of behavior that that this bill would work to eliminate, then you are not acting like a Christian! Nobody is trying to eliminate your right to preach your interpretation of Leviticus and Romans I. You can condemn gay people until you are blue in the face! However, your religious-based beliefs are not suitable justifications for threatening words or actions! If you were to get up in a gay man's face and tell him he better watch his queer back if he knows what's good for him, then you are threatening him. If you literally smack a lesbian while screaming, "F***ing dyke!" then you are crossing the line into biased-based violence. If you beat the hell out of a transgender woman, than you are stepping over into hate territory. However, your freedom of religion will in no way be compromised by this legislation; it just can't compromise anyone else's safety!

Folks like Ms. Lafferty, while they'll never admit it, feel that their religious freedom -- which they essentially define as their right to force Christianity into the public square -- trumps all other freedoms. They know that the easiest way to rally their followers is to present the idea that they are going to become criminalized for their faith, so they paint any initiative that they see as too pro-gay as some sort of threat to the Christian community's well-being. They completely overlook the fact that in terms of biased acts of hate, most of us want to protect TVC as much as it would protect HRC! This bill would only expand, not trump! They are being intellectually dishonest because they know that a true, reasoned, rational presentation of the legislation's facts would be less likely to spur their readers to action!

Now, this all being said, we of course hope measures like H.R. 1592 will work to increase gay equality. We want the whole of the population to accept gays as part of the spectrum of normalcy, because gays ARE normal. We are unapologetic about this matter, and we will fight for anything that helps our goal. However, gay acceptance is not even what this bill is about! It is about protecting any and every community of people from threats and violence. You can disagree with the "lifestyles" of ANY of the populations of people who would benefit from this measure. If this measure was trying to eliminate your freedom to disagree with someone, then we would be speak out against it. Loudly. However, when a measure is presented to keep us ALL protected from incidents of cruelty or harassment, we are going to champion it. Loudly. Any decent person of faith will do the same.

Pro-Homosexual/Drag Queen ‘Hate Crimes’ Bill Introduced [TVC]

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Your thoughts

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.

Posted by: L.W. | Mar 28, 2007 7:39:33 AM

Response to L.W.:

http://www.goodasyou.org/good_as_you/2007/03/defending_a_hat.html

Posted by: G-A-Y | Mar 28, 2007 9:49:55 AM

Yes, the hate crime bill should be extended. Not only to gay people, but to some other people as well, such as homeless people.
I think the term "hate crime" is confusing and inexact. For one thing, people sometimes come out with the chestnut that "all crimes are hate crimes." Sounds good, but it's not true.
If a starving child in Brazil steals an apple, that's not a hate crime, it's a survival crime. If a drunk driver hits and kills someone, that's not a hate crime, either. It's a crime of recklessness. If a person kills an adulterous spouse, maybe that's a love crime.
I think the name should be recast to "bias-escalation crime." The common characteristic of this type of crime is how it goes over the top. I can kill a gay person by shooting him. I can also kidnap him, take him to my basement, stab him repeatedly with a pen knife, strangle him, then cut his head off. Guess which is a "bias-escalation crime."
This is why the homeless should also be covered by the bill. I heard of one homeless guy who was attacked and needed reconstructive surgury. That sounds over the top. I'm surprise he wasn't doused with gasoline and hit with a match, since that's a popular homeless man kill.
A lot of so-called Christian folk are concerned that their free speech will be lost with this bill. Nonsense. They'll still be able to hate and vent that hate. I doubt anyone will jail me at any time because I am loud about how I hate bigots.
And one further thing: I wonder if so-called Christians think Jesus was unChristian? He talks a lot about feeding the poor and visiting people in prison. Maybe that will catch on sometime.

Posted by: Frank McEvoy | May 13, 2007 1:17:37 AM

Frank: Yes, I agree with you on the trappings of the "hate crimes" name. It does allow for the all to convenient "all crimes are acts of hate" line, which completely muddies the waters of what this is all about.

More on hate crimes legislation:

http://www.goodasyou.org/good_as_you/hate_crimes_legislation/

Posted by: G-A-Y | May 13, 2007 11:42:47 AM

Have to agree with JMHO. Free speech is harmed by these 'HateCrime' bills. Frank McEvoy seems to unaware that the right to speak to a practicing homosexual about their practice is already a law in some states (PA being one) or maybe one should say that some are already being prosecuted for exercising their right to free speech because they chose to share God's view of homosexuality with them out of concern for their soles. This isn't persecution of homosexuals but they want it to become so. If you want to right to parade, etc. then the straight community should also have the right to oppose you. The definition of Hate Crime is so loose that it has already been in use to criminalize non-hateful speech. You willing to take away my right to speak with these laws.

Posted by: Merlyn | Jun 15, 2007 6:59:26 AM

Merlyn: I've already responded to LW (JMHO, as you call him)...

http://www.goodasyou.org/good_as_you/2007/03/defending_a_hat.html

...so I really have little more to add on that note.

As for this quote, however:

"Frank McEvoy seems to unaware that the right to speak to a practicing homosexual about their practice is already a law in some states (PA being one) or maybe one should say that some are already being prosecuted for exercising their right to free speech because they chose to share God's view of homosexuality with them out of concern for their soles."

I want to say two things:

1) You are absolutely wrong that it illegal to "speak to a practicing homosexual about their practice" anywhere! I'm assuming you bring up Pennsylvania because of the case of the Repent America protesters that were hauled in for protesting at Outfest. What Christian conservatives overlook is that they were brought in on a whole other slew of charges [such as failure to disperse, possessing an instrument of crime (a bullhorn), obstructing a highway, criminal conspiracy, and disorderly conduct]. The hate crimes charge was only tacked on BECAUSE of the other laws they were found to be violating! And then, the hate crimes charges were later dropped, as it was found that they were not in violation of the statute. However, without the other charges, they never would have been subject to such in the first place!!

2) Everyone has the right to oppose everyone. Everyone has the right to parade. These laws only target bias-motivated VIOLENCE. This sort of violence -- whether it targets Christians, gays, blacks, Jews, etc -- is a different sort of incident than violence that is random or inspired by other ideas (rage, jealousy, family strife, passion).

3) Don't be concerned for our soles -- most of us take very good care of our shoes.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jun 15, 2007 8:41:59 AM

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