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05/01/2007

TVC: The least truthful member of our opposition?

by Jeremy Hooper

Picture 25-1So in their never-ending quest to make gay-centric hate crimes protections look as if they would thwart gay-negative religious thought, the Traditional Values Coalition has been passing around this "transcript" of events from last week's House Judiciary Committee markup of H.R. 1592 (Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act):

Picture 26-4

Since that initial account, we've seen numerous "pro-family" outlets present the Gohmert/Lundgren/Davis exchange exactly how TVC remembered it. Lifesite news used TVC's recount for their story on the legislation's Judiciary Committee passage. Folks like Peter LaBarbera have passed on TVC's remembrance as fact. And just this morning, a "pro-family" player sent us TVC's information to help back up his own personal anti-HR 1592 stance.

So naturally, we grew curious about what really went on during this House Judiciary Committee markup session. The beauty part: In this day and age, we don't need second-hand accounts like the one TVC has provided. For you see, all of us mere citizens now have unprecedented access to full transcripts of congressional proceedings. Which is how we were able to see how this whole situation actually played out (download pdf of the transcript):

Mr. Gohmert. Even with your amendment, you still have to go back to the "rule of evidence" at page 15 of the underlying bill. And it says that these things may not be introduced as substantive evidence at trial unless the evidence specifically relates to the offense.

And if I understood the gentleman's amendment—and I will put the question back to you—if a minister preaches that sexual relations outside of marriage of a man and woman is wrong, and somebody within that congregation goes out and does an act of violence, and that person says that that minister counseled or induced him through the sermon to commit that act, are you saying under your amendment that in no way could that ever be introduced against the minister?

Mr. Davis. No.

Chairman Conyers. The gentleman's time has again expired.

Mr. Gohmert. And he answered no before the time ran out.

Chairman Conyers. Let's see. We have been on this amendment a considerable time, and three people now seek recognition.

Mr. Lungren. Just for a short time, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Issa. Mr. Chairman, I only moved the previous question. I will yield all other time.

Chairman Conyers. Well, I will recognize the senior member on this side, Dan Lungren.

Mr. Lungren. Mr. Chairman, I just wanted to point out one thing. On page 6, there has been reference to the fact that hate crime is limited to—

Chairman Conyers. The previous question has been moved?

Mr. Issa. I was only hoping to bring a finality to these last two speakers, nothing more.

Chairman Conyers. Well, if it meets with your approval, could we just vote on this particular amendment before we go to the floor for this next series of votes?

Mr. Lungren. Mr. Chairman, if I could be recognized, I was just going to make—

Chairman Conyers. All right. I will recognize Dan Lungren.

Mr. Lungren. Mr. Chairman, strike the requisite number of words. There has been reference to the definitions being very tight in this particular bill, and reference was to page 6. I would just ask my colleagues to look at subsection 7 of (a)(1), and in this we are talking about crimes motivated by prejudice based on actual or perceived race, color, religion, et cetera, et cetera, or is a violation of the state, local or tribal hate crime laws.

That means a state hate crime law now or some time in the future, a local hate crime law now or some time in the future, or a tribal hate crime law—

Mr. Davis. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. Lungren. I will be happy to yield.

Mr. Davis. I would only make one point, Mr. Chairman, that you have to read the provisions conjunctively. It says
subsection A constitutes a crime of violence, subsection B constitutes a felony, and then subsection C picks up the language—

Mr. Lungren. Well, reclaiming my time, I understand that, but the point that some people have made is that with reference to what does incite mean, what does counsel mean, what does speech mean in a sermon, and if a particular state or particular location decides to somehow incorporate that—

Mr. Davis. It must be—

Mr. Lungren. —which I don't believe—

Mr. Davis. —with a crime of violence.

Chairman Conyers. Order.

Mr. Lungren. The crime of violence is not the question. It is the question of whether someone incited to a crime of
violence as suggested by the gentleman from Texas.

Ms. Jackson Lee. Would the gentleman yield?

Mr. Lungren. I am not sitting here trying to defend crimes of violence. I am talking about the extension of that act to someone else who has expressed a point of view with respect to a religious teaching that may then be misinterpreted as an incitement to violence. That is the point I am trying to make.

Chairman Conyers. Ladies and gentlemen, we have not concluded with finality this discussion, but we do require that a vote on the amendment be taken before we go to vote.

All in favor of the Pence amendment, indicate by saying, "Aye."

Thank you.

All opposed to the Pence amendment, indicate by saying,
"No."

The noes have it.

But wait a minute: That's not AT ALL how TVC relayed it! Not only is there far more to the exchange than they would have you believe and a far different structure than they say, NOT A ONE OF THEIR QUOTES ARE ACCURATE! Go ahead -- search the entire transcript! You won't find any of their "quotes," or even a reasonable variation (allowing for the possibility that maybe a few words were missed by the congressional reporter)! As per their wont, TVC is twisting the situation to make it more convenient for their purposes!

Simply unreal!
Although considering they have also resorted to putting Jesus on a wanted poster, deliberately lying about an anti-hate teaching supplement, and making comics about this hate crimes bill, who is really surprised? You know what they say about desperate times...

House Judiciary Trasncript --4/25/07 [House.gov]
TVC Report on ‘Hate Crimes’ Hearing: Religious Protection Amendment Rejected [AFT]

**Interestingly, TVC's account does not seem to be on their website anywhere, so presumably it was just sent to followers on their email list (and to press outlets like Lifesite). This is bizarre behavior, considering they put EVERYTHING on their website. Did they won't less scrutiny on their widely inaccurate remembrances, perhaps?! Well, we're going to contact them to find out more. However, don't hold your breath for an answer! Of all of the "pro-family" groups, they are the ones who like to respond to us the least.

**UPDATE
: We sent this to the "pro-family" player who brought this whole matter to our attention this morning. He replied, saying:

Picture 27-3

Our response:

But [name redacted], come on: This wording has a few VERY key differences form that which TVC passed on. (1) If the person being charged "says that that minister counseled or induced him through the sermon to commit that act," then that is a very different situation than TVC's own scenario. TVC left out the part where the perp says the minister "counseled or induced him to commit that act"! ANYONE who the perp says counseled him to commit an act of violence would have to be questioned (even now)!

(2) The question as detailed by the transcript is one in which Mr. Gohmert asks if it can be guaranteed that certain teachings "no way could...ever be introduced against the minister". This guarantee cannot be made. Again, if a crazy minister says "Gay marriage is wrong and I want you, John Doe, to go kill the next gay couple you see," then that minister must be questioned! That fortunately, is not the normal case. However, it is very telling that TVC reframed the line of questioning so that Mr. Davis was giving an affirmative "Yes!" when he seems to have been instead leaving room for possibilities that are of legitimate concern!

**UPDATE, 5/2: TVC is now running on their site a video from another section of Gohmert's Judiciary Committee speeches (which you can find on pages 80-82 of the official transcript). However, they have yet to even respond to us regarding their blatant misrepresentation of Gohmert's other exchange.

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Your thoughts

I remember reading this originally on the TVC website, and now it is gone, but I have seen the same report on AFT's website among other "pro-family" typw groups. Thanks for the actual transcript, it was much more telling to see the difference in what was perceived as truth by the TVC and the actual truth. As much as I would love to beleive that these organizations are making a point of lying and deceiving others, I sometimes wonder if their worldview is so narraw and their own perceptions of what should and should not be so set, that they truly beleive theie accounting of events is not actually what happened. I truly beleive that most people will beleive to be true what they want most want to be true or else they will believe to be true what they are most afraid of as the truth. Either one fits here.

Posted by: Todd | May 1, 2007 5:55:04 PM

In reading how these conservatives twisted and misrepresented this exchange to fit their religious agenda, I can see how conservatives many years ago twisted the teachings of Jesus Christ to fit their conservative religious agenda.

So, how'd they do this 1,700 years ago?

1) They censored all liberal, non-canonical scripture from being included in their abridged version of the New Testament. Then they had conservative gangs go around gathering up all these non-canonical scriptures and destroying them. Luckily, some of these survived and were discovered last century, giving us a much more liberal picture of Jesus versus the highly-censored conservative version.

2) Next, they buried the few remaining gospels that were included in their version of the New Testament between the voluminous Old Testament and a bunch of letters. A suspicious person would think that these early pseudo-Christian Christian conservatives were actually trying to hide Jesus by sandwiching his reported sayings between a bunch of other material.

Anyway, it therefore doesn't surprise me that some present-day conservatives twist the facts to fit their agenda, just as I'm not surprised that these religious conservatives support some people in the White House who have consistently twisted the FACTS to serve their political/religious agenda over the past six years, leading to the deaths of so many people and the degradation of our democracy. Not surprised at all.

Conservatives never, never change unless they have an actual spiritual experience which no religious can ever provide.

Posted by: The Oracle | May 2, 2007 3:38:11 AM

Lies and Misrepresentations: The New Family Values.

Posted by: Alan | May 2, 2007 7:16:19 AM

So why not call their bluff and add the sentence they want:

"Nothing in this section limits the religious freedom of any person or group under the constitution."

It's a statement of the obvious but these kinds of bills contain such language. Heck, maybe adding this will convince some conservatives to either support it or at least tone down their opposition.

Posted by: John | May 2, 2007 8:29:41 AM

Next time get the title of the article straight. It should have read "TVC Bears False Witness".

Posted by: S. G. Poss | May 2, 2007 8:51:15 AM

I agree with Alan "Lies and Misrepresentations: The New Family Values."
It seems people who don't like certain things will do that in order to spread hate and fear out of their ignorance of things instead of actually showing intelligence and gain knowledge and understanding of that which they don't understand.
The reality of it is religious organizations and beliefs WILL NOT be supressed because of those who think and act differently then them.
Those organizations who claim their christian and for FREEDOM & JUSTICE FOR ALL like America is suppose to be,
clearly shows they will ignore both perceptions and beliefs in order to live in a country of restricted RIGHTS & FREEDOMS.Thus,not only being a contradiction of the morality they calim to have but towards our concept of FREEDOM & JUSTICE FOR ALL.
So who,in reality has an agenda to control people and the world the way they see fit.

Posted by: Dee | May 3, 2007 2:50:48 PM

It's a tricky question, incitement, and it does, invariably, involve a free speech restriction.

One's right to say "go out and murder all membrs of [insert protected group here] is restricted by the possibility of criminal penalties. On the other hand, one would retain more freedom to say "go out and murder all members of the religious right" because there is no hate crime legislation protecting the religious right.

It's not all or nothing. You still can't shout "fire" in a crowded theater. Incitement is a crime.

But, as I understand it, Gohmert was trying to emphasize that this legislation increases the risk of ministers (crazy or sane) being convicted of a crime based on speech conveying religious beliefs. I don't think that there's any question about whether this legislation does that. The question we should be asking is whether we, as a society, will tolerate that restriction on expression. Should we further penalize the expression of religious beliefs when the expression "incites" the commission of a violent crime?

I don't know the answer to that question, but I think it's a legitimate one to ask, and we do ourselves disservice by focusing on the rhetoric while ignoring the issues. Just as the racial protections were used to protect white people, this may bite us on the behind.

Posted by: | May 10, 2007 3:03:35 PM

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