I've got one thing to say and that's 'Dammit, Janet, you're embracing a lie'
For an example of just how willing our opposition is to distort the nature of federal hate crimes legislation, consider this passage from the latest WorldNetDaily column written by Janet Folger:
According to the New Hampshire Union Leader, John Guimond, 23...was charged with stealing a cell phone from a homosexual man, 24, and his underage "male partner" (a statutory rape violation), after approaching them in a parking lot.
Stealing is a bad thing to do. But keep in mind, no weapon was used, no injury sustained. Just that mean name – something far, far worse. Think about it for a minute. If saying a mean anti-homosexual word adds an additional 23-26 ½ years to a sentence, and people live to around 80, that penalty is one-fourth of your life for the words you say. And while this was in addition to a robbery penalty, how much of a jump would it really be to penalize the speech "infraction" alone? And just what constitutes an "anti-gay epithet"? Would an "anti-gay epithet" be to say, "Homosexuality is a sin," or "Homosexuals should repent"? What if you informed someone that "Homosexuality is harmful to your health"? If I were you, I wouldn't try it in New Hampshire.
Okay, first off -- Mr. Guimond was NOT sentenced for the hate crime. This from the same paper that Ms. Folger quoted above (though the article is not free, so we can't provide a link):
DATE: March 10, 2005
By SCOTT BROOKS
Union Leader Correspondent
NASHUA -- A Massachusetts man accused of shouting an anti-gay epithet while robbing a homosexual couple last May pleaded guilty Tuesday to the robbery, but not to the hate crime.
Prosecutors agreed to drop the two charges against John Guimond, 23, that alleged he was motivated to rob the couple because of their sexual orientation.
So, right or wrong, it was determined in court that there was not enough evidence to suggest that the crime was bias motivated. This is a very important detail! When our opposition presents such scenarios, they like to act as if the judicial process is completely thrown out the door and that folks are going to be unfairly convicted of hate crimes right and left under the proposed laws. But the truth of the matter is that just like with any criminal situation, folks accused of LBT-centric hate crimes are innocent until proven guilty. There is still a burden of proof at play, and in Mr. Guimond's situation, the prosecution was unable to find that his anti-gay slurs constituted a bias-motivated crime. Whether or not the judicial process failed to correctly charge this individual is up for debate. However, there still was a judicial process! Nobody wants to see fairness thrown out the door!
But then Ms. Folger really goes off any rational point when she asks of the scenario, "And while this was in addition to a robbery penalty, how much of a jump would it really be to penalize the speech "infraction" alone?" A suggestion to which we reply:
"Uhm, well Janet -- in terms of leaps in logic, this one could be a strong contender in the Intellectual Olympics' long and high jump competitions."
For you see, despite how desperate our opposition is to make these proposed protections looks as if they would criminalize speech, there is not an ounce of truth to such an assertion! Hate speech and hate crimes are too VERY different concepts (even if one can certainly inspire and embolden the other).
Using the former concept to refute the latter is like using children to refute gay marriage. Oh wait a minute -- they do that too!
Ms Folger goes on to asks: "Would an 'anti-gay epithet' be to say, 'Homosexuality is a sin,' or 'Homosexuals should repent'? What if you informed someone that 'Homosexuality is harmful to your health'?" And yes, to us most of those are anti-gay and offensive (not to mention untrue). And if someone were to convey such sentiment while beating the hell out of a gay man, then they very well might be charged and tried for a bias-motivated crime (and hopefully would be given a fair trial)! However, the key is still the violent act, not the speech itself! And as we've stated many times before, if our government was trying to criminalize hate speech, there would surely be many, many freedom-loving gays who would protest it as much as anyone. However, it is simply not the case.
It is time that folks like Janet Folger stop muddying the waters in such an unscrupulous fashion, and start addressing the actual legislation at hand. The idea that Christians will be criminalized for their thoughts and speech is the "pro-family" talking point on this issue, and they repeat it frequently and fervently. The only problem -- It could not be more of a red herring! At least with other issues where they talk about concepts in the abstract (i.e. marriage would destroy families), it is an expression of their own, largely unprovable opinion. In this instance, however, they are conveying an idea that is DEMONSTRABLY WRONG by just looking at the legislation, learning the facts, reading the bills, and listening to what the lawmakers are actually saying! And it is our belief that even people like Ms Folger know in their heart of hearts that they are conveying misinformation, which we find even more disturbing!
From the article linked to in the footnote:
"There are a lot of people saying, 'I’m just going to stay in the closet. I have my separate life. I listen to Christian radio. The kids are in Christian school. I’m from a Christian church,' and what I want to tell you is that if you want to stay in that separate subculture, stay in the closet, very much longer, you’re going to wake up and there’s going to be a padlock on the outside of that door."
Whoa! Interesting, first of all, that she's appropriating the language and metaphore of the very people she so desperately opposes, but beyond that...
So, I can listen to radio that supports and promotes my lifestyle, send my kids to a school that especially supports this lifestyle (and presumably says so right on front of the building), and join a large congregation of fellow members to celebrate and discuss this lifestyle (again in a building that presumably does not hide its nature in any way), yet still be in the closet? Riiight.
I'm gonna be nice about it and say that I'm not sure she quite understands the metaphore she's stealing there.
Posted by: williehewes | Apr 26, 2007 12:10:19 PMcomments powered by Disqus