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05/02/2007

Wright joins chorus of 'wrong'

by Jeremy Hooper

 Good As You Images Picture-6-52She's been sort of silent on H.R. 1592, leaving Matt Barber to (outrageously) speak for the Concerned Women For America about the proposed hate crimes protections. However, CWA president Wendy Wright has finally weighed in with this doozy of a quote:

Justice should be blind. Matthew Shepherd’s assailants received the same sentence as Mary Stachowicz’s, a grandmother who was brutally murdered by a homosexual man. Victims are — and should be — treated equally in the justice system, regardless of their ‘sexual orientation.’ This ‘hate crimes’ bill would overturn this balance, creating second-class victims and a federal justice system that discriminates against grandmothers, children, women and men simply because they are heterosexual. We cannot imagine that President Bush would sign a bill that would create a two-tiered justice system that discriminates against grandmothers.

Ugh, enough with the grandmothers thing, kids! Contrary to popular pro-family belief, "gay" and "grandmother" are not conflicting terms! Grandmothers, in and of themselves -- no, they're not a protected class. However, African-American, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Asian-American, Hispanic, or many other kinds of grandmothers -- if targeted because of those specific characteristics, then they ALREADY ARE protected! We simply wish "lesbian grandmother" to be another person who could be realistically targeted and who should be realistically protected!

A victim is not a "second-class victim" because they have been targeted randomly, or for concepts like jealousy, revenge, betrayal, or a profit motive. And gays would not be "first-class victims" because a targeted incident of gay hate could earn their perps a stiffer sentence (just like Christians are not "better victims" when they are targeted for religious reasons). The government simply has (or should have) a vested interest in sending a message that NOBODY is to be treated like a "second-class citizen" because of who they are or what they believe. Now, if CWA truly want to work to try and stop crimes based on "ageism," we would even consider working with them on that. However, we seriously wish they would stop trying to make it sound like we gays are trying to monopolize law enforcement resources so that the nation's elderly will be more vulnerable! We're actually big fans of grannies!

As for the terribly sad murder of Mary Stachowicz: The religious right has been trying to politicize her sad death for years. Because she was killed after allegedly telling a young gay man that he was sinning against God and for encouraging him to change his ways, the "pro-family" crowd has tried to make it look as if she was killed because she's a Christian. Yes, it's true, that she was said to have been sharing her own moral views when the young man snapped, but this is not the same thing as being murdered for your religious beliefs. If I were an atheist and I told a Christian that he was muddying the word of God and he should change his beliefs, his reaction would not be bigotry against my own faith beliefs. His reaction would be because of my faith or lack thereof, but rather on my condemnations of his being! That is a far different thing that an ACTUAL case of religious-based bias, in which someone simply holds hatred in their heart for a particular sect! Yes, the line can be a fine one, but there has to be such lines. Religious beliefs simply do not give someone carte blanche to chastise another. And if one is to condemn the core of another's being, they have to expect a reaction. In order for the reaction to be murder, then clearly the criminal had to have been mentally disturbed. However, the sad reality of life is that there are such individuals walking among us. But if we are to call any case where personal religious conviction meets violent retaliation a religious-based hate crime, then where do we draw the line? The Bible can, in theory, be used to justify a whole slew of stances. If a Catholic tells someone they shouldn't use contraceptives, which prompts that someone to snap into a violent rage, is that then an anti-Catholic crime? If a conservative Jew says something pork-negative to a butcher which leads to a violent fight, is that automatically an act of anti-Semitic hate? Condemnations of any variety tend to make people angry. Anger can turn violence. Violence coupled with metal issues can turn into homicide.

Mary Stachowicz's murder should not send chills down the spine of Christians everywhere. She was murdered by a fellow employee with whom she had, by all accounts, had several verbal spats. He did not seek her out to murder her; he snapped after the condemnations became more than his clearly unstable mind could take. Matthew Shepard, however, was (no matter what Elizabeth Vargas led folks to believe) clearly targeted and left to die because he was gay. Such a deliberately bias-motivated incident terrorizes an entire community of people with fear. We guarantee you that had the Stachowicz and Shepard roles been reversed (she picked up from a Christian retreat and left to die because of who she was; he murdered after taunting a Christian with threats that it was her anti-gay sentiment that was unGodly), we would be coming down on the exact same sides of these two situations!

We like grandmothers. We like Christians. We like gay people. We hate violence and murder of all varieties. We want to see it all thwarted, and we want to see every situation handled for what it truly is.

CWA Asks President for Veto Pledge on “Hate Crimes” Legislation [CWA]

**Note to CWA: Matthew's last name is spelled SHEPARD.

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Your thoughts

Fact of the matter is that even if Stachowicz was brutally murdered for her religious beliefs or even for being a heterosexual, this proposed legislation would apply the same penalties as to those who killed Shepherd. And guess what? It should. I no more want anti-gay Christians to be targeted and murdered anymore than I do gays themselves. Of course such logic completely escapes those on the extreme Right.

Posted by: John | May 2, 2007 3:56:29 PM

This WAS a hate crime, and I hope the man pays for it IN BLOOD.

I'm on your side and have always been, but this is so wrong on so many levels. Hate crime protection includes everyone, doesn't it?

Posted by: Chris | May 3, 2007 12:37:05 AM

John: Actually, if it was found to have been anti-Christian bias, current law could have come into play. Religion is already protected. In this case, the evidence of such bias motivation was simply not there.

Chris: Nobody is justifying the crime. We all (hopefully) want all murderers to be punished harshly. However, this is not "so wrong on so manly levels." You have to pull your emotions out of situations like this and look at them objectively. The issue is whether this was a crime motivated by anti-Catholic belief. The religious right has asserted that it was, presenting it as if the media and the judicial system are so embroiled in the "gay agenda" that they have handled this situation in ways different from that of Matthew Shepard. We assert that they are not the same situation.

To clarify my point in the above post: There is a big difference between an anti-Christian crime and one in which someone violently reacts to condemnation. The evidence is not there to suggest that this young man killed Ms. Stachowicz BECAUSE she was a Christian, but rather BECAUSE (a) he was clearly mentally disturbed, and (b) snapped after being condemned one time too many. This is not a flipside to what the evidence suggests in Matthew Shepard's case.

Again, this is not to suggest that this murder was anything other than a sad, disgusting, unwarranted, extreme, amoral, wretched act of indefensible violence. Again, you have to pull your emotions out if looking at he political/criminal/judicial matters at play. I think one of the big problems is the term "hate crime." MANY, MANY acts of true hate fall outside of the lines of bias motivation.

Posted by: G-A-Y | May 3, 2007 8:36:37 AM

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