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04/20/2007

VA Tech -- Let the 'pro-family' exploitation begin

by Jeremy Hooper

Picture 32-3Well, it was only a matter of time before our socio-politico-religo opponents tried to turn the senseless Virginia Tech tragedy into a senseless attack on the need for LGBT hate crimes protections. Phil Magnan (pic.) of the Biblical Family Advocates becomes the first out of that gate when he says in a newly issued press release:

America is still reeling over the horrific slaughter of students and faculty at Virginia Tech. The shooter's actions have not been listed as a hate crime, but what makes that heinous crime somehow less hateful or less important than a crime of bias? No one doubts that there was a great deal of hatred on the part of the gunman who shot so many people regardless of race, sexual orientation or religion.

Well, first off this sets up the false idea that crimes that are not bias-motivated are "less hateful" or "less important." Nobody on our side of the issue is claiming that. There are many, many violent acts that are far more heinous and "important" than those perpetrated against individual members of the LGBT community. All that advocates for hate crimes protections are saying is that crimes specifically motivated by hate towards the gay community send the terrifying message to LGBT individuals worldwide that by simply living their truths, they are making themselves vulnerable to attack. If allowed to go unchecked, the public at large can get the message that these sorts of bias-motivated incidents are somehow acceptable or non-deserving of condemnation.

The simple fact is that a beating in which the perp targets someone leaving a gay bar and screams "die faggot" while pummeling the victim, is a different sort of violent act than one in which the perp randomly punches someone in the face in order to steal their wallet. Graffiti left on a house reading "You Were A Shitty Teacher" is very different from graffiti that reads "Fags Deserve To Die." All of these incidents are criminal and deserve punishment. However, a clear message needs to be sent to the homophobia-motivated perp that America will not tolerate a world in which particular groups of people are terrorized for who they are. We already have such protections for other minority sects; it's time to protect a group that is realistically targeted.

Magnan goes on to say:

Another recent story should give us pause as well, Jury gives S.D. woman life in prison, in which a black lesbian woman killed a white heterosexual woman, then burned and chain-sawed her body into pieces. Yet this case will not be listed as a hate crime because the black lesbian did not kill the white heterosexual because of orientation or color, she did it out of jealousy.

"What is striking about these two cases is that it shows the amazing hypocrisy of those who want hate crimes legislation. How can anyone say that it was not a hate crime for any of these students or faculty to die the way they did? Where is their equal protection of the law? The fact remains that all crimes are a crime of hate because real love does no harm towards our neighbor. The existing laws should be equally severe against anyone who does physical harm to any person. The actions of criminals like the shooter have already clearly shown blatant bias to disregard the safety of their fellow neighbors by choosing to do them physical harm. Isn't that bias enough?" So says Phil Magnan, director of Biblical Family Advocates

And again, Mr. Magnan is muddying the waters in regards to the pro-gay viewpoint. Nobody is denying that this lesbian committed a heinous act. Just like with any community of people, the LGBT community has some really awful members! Also, nobody (with the possible exception of Westboro Baptist) is denying that Cho Seung Hui was a reprehensible human being who committed a wicked, odious act of violence. However, the first crime involved a woman who was jealous of the friendship the vicim had with her former lover, which led her to do what she did. The VA tech incident involved a madman who appears to have randomly killed any and everyone who was in his path of terror. While horribly tragic and horrifying, these acts would hold an extra layer of alarm if they were specifically meant to send a message to a larger sect of people. That's not to slight any of the victims, as murder is murder. But you cannot deny that if the tortured soul who we've all seen far too much of this week had opened his fire at a church, synagogue, African-American rally, gay bar, or women's conference, the national conversation would be a different one. Not a more tragic one -- but a different story with more frightening implications for a certain community of people!

Moving on:

Magnan continued "Society would do well to punish the crime and not the bias lest we begin to punish people for their private beliefs or their words. And if mere offense be the measure of the limits of free speech, then no one will be able to speak. I am offended every day by the words of others, but I will not take away their right to free speech in the public forum. We should all be mature enough to take the disagreement of others, without punishing them for not agreeing with us."

Biblical Family Advocates affirms that all crimes against all persons are crimes of hate and as such should be prosecuted according to the degree of those crimes. Though hate crimes legislation is well intentioned, it diminishes the value of millions of victims, by exalting the rights and value of others over the rest of society.

And here comes the part where yet another "pro-family" person tries to make hate crimes legislation look like it would punish thought or speech. This line of logic is SUCH a duplicitous attempt to confuse people as to what such legislation is all about! What we are talking here is not one's freedom to believe or say what they please. In fact, if we were talking about limiting speech, we at G-A-Y would likely be condemning the legislation loudly. But what we're talking about here are acts of violence in which an extra layer of terror is added on to the already despicable crime. As such, we feel that an extra charge should be added on to the punishment. Unless the "pro-family" players who are so convinced that such legislation would stifle their speech are planning on literally beating gays over the head with their Bible, then they have nothing to worry about. But they know that they can rally religious folks to their side if they make it seem like the passage of hate crimes protections would criminalize their recitations of Leviticus and Romans I, so they freely and frequently put that idea out into the ether. But like so much of the fighting logic from which they refuse to stray (protecting marriage, protecting life, military ban is non-discriminatory, free speech gives us right to condemn gays in public schools), this rationale is flawed with a capital FLAW.

Perhaps the defect of hate crimes legislation is that it has the word "hate" in it to begin with. Maybe that is why some people have trouble seeing the necessity, as there clearly are many other instances where horribly hateful acts fail to fall under such protections. However, if our opposition would (a) move past semantics and (b) look at the actual picture rather than hold on to the flawed notion that we are trying to portray certain victims as more worthy, we think they might have a better grasp on the reality of the situation. You have to take the human interest angle out of it and look at the crimes, not the victims. As we've already said, anyone who is murdered in cold blood has been unfairly and tragically robbed of life -- this is non-debated! But a crime of bias is a different crime than a crime of passion, revenge, jealousy, accident, or arbitrary anger. When bias crimes are perpetrated against the LGBT community, we only wish to see that the full span of the crime's possible reverberations on society are dealt with in a staunch, message-sending manner!

Hate crimes legislation does not diminish "the value of millions of victims, by exalting the rights and value of others over the rest of society." Hate crimes themselves attempt to diminish the value of not only the victims, but also the full spectrum of those who share the targeted characteristic. Anyone who cares to see a more just, decent world will support such measures.

Was Virginia Tech Massacre a Hate Crime? Absurdity of Hate Crimes Legislation [Christian News Wire]

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Your thoughts

I think it is rather obvious why these alleged "Christians" contend that their "freedom of speech" will be affected by hate crimes legislation which already includes them. . .but in their minds, shouldn't include us. They are affected because they view freedom of speech as also freedom to intimidate, which is the foundational core of their alleged "religious" belief system. Worshipping God is about fear, and smear is about how to represent God in referencing all imagined enemies of their "church." So intimidation is used as their own recruiting tool for membership into the "religious" elite. . .starting with the bribe of everlasting life if you follow their dictated interpretations of "christian principles."

Never mind how selective they are in embracing those principles - it is essentially a con-game with these people and a moneymaking industry. But what is more important is understanding that their opposition to hate crimes legislation isn't based on anything but the fear that their use of intimidation speech might one day be directly linked to physical acts of violence and they don't believe they should be held accountable.

One must only look back into recent history to observe the behavior of these "christian" extremists in power positions. Was it not ex-justice Roy Moore who lashed out at a lesbian in his courtroom with a "morality" argument meant to belittle her existence? Was it not so many conservative activist judges who, by using their personally selected "religious" beliefs, historically lowered the penalties of perpetrators of gay murders because, after all, the gay victims were "immoral?"

They seem to forget their own history, somehow. . .and pretend as if they've always embraced some notion that every life is precious and every crime should be treated the same. That line of manure is nothing more than a shameful ruse, a deliberate lie in which they no more believe in equality in justice than they really believe in the invisible white man-god in the sky.

What they really fear is that their blatant use of intimidation speech has often translated into acts of violence against members of the GLBT community - after all, where did epithets like "Fags are going to HELL" spraypainted upon the homes of gay citizens come from? And there are certainly religious Right leaders who have, at times, called on gay Americans to be interned in camps, or outright executed. If these clowns already believe we are criminals by our mere existence, who can truly believe they honestly support equal treatment under the criminal laws?

At this point, it doesn't matter if they believe being gay is a condition or an innate characteristic. Their own beliefs, which are manufactured and chosen, are protected under the same laws - primarily because of religious conflict in which other people were assaulted because they believed differently. These are not people who believe in the ideals of equality - they believe in an aristocracy of tyrants who merely need only to discover new interpretations of a holy book to dictate to others.

In my mind, these people commit religious fraud every time they issue another deliberate lie. And yet they would be the first ones in a courtroom whining their first amendment rights are being violated if anyone so much as utters a dissenting viewpoint to their absolute claim of the sole representatives of "Christianity."

Posted by: kevin | Apr 20, 2007 12:40:15 PM

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