Hate crimes opponents: Focus on their Desperation
So you might have heard that Anthony Fortunato, one of the men allegedly responsible for the 2006 death of openly gay New Yorker Michael Sandy, has come out and said that he's had closeted encounters with other men and that he "could be homosexual. A homosexual. Bisexual." But considering that Fortunato has also already admitted that he and his partners in crime went into a chat room and selected Sandy as a victim for robbery because of his sexual orientation (an idea Fortunato says was his own), many people have suspected that Fortunato's revelation is nothing more than a disgusting sort of panic defense tactic meant to reduce his sentencing. Or others have suggested that it's true, with the closeted nature of Fortunato's existence only fueling the sort of shame that led him to target a gay man specifically. But regardless of the nature of Fortunato's defense, most reasoned legal scholars are on the same page in agreeing that his Fortunato's true sexual orientation is really irrelevant in terms of whether the situation behind Sandy's death is a hate crime, as the fact remains that (a) the victim was admittedly selected because he's gay, and (b) under New York law, defendants can be convicted of a hate crime even if they personally hold no actual hatred for their victim.
Well, leave it to the folks at Focus on the Family to stand in opposition to reason, especially if doing so can help their cause of demonizing homosexuals and all laws meant to protect them. Today, FOF's Bruce Hausknecht simplistically says the following about the Fortunato/Sandy situation:
"If you can be prosecuted for a hate crime without demonstrating any hate for the victim, and you even belong to the same protected class as the victim, then all of the publicly touted reasons advanced by liberals for the necessity of these types of laws are pure fabrications designed to cover up their political motivations,"
"This case demonstrates that hate-crimes laws are not designed to accomplish anything more than elevating the social and legal status of certain politically powerful minority groups. All violent crimes are hate crimes, and can be adequately prosecuted under existing criminal laws."
Well, Mr. Hausknecht is right about pure fabrication being at play in his assessment, yet to find such he need not look to the case itself, but rather into the nearest mirror. That's because his childish assertions are pulled from either thin air, his fanny, or the "pro-family" encyclopedia of lies, but they are not pulled from any place based in reality!
The reason advanced for hate crimes laws is not to increase anyone's social status, but rather to protect bias-motivated incidents that strike fear into an entire community of people. It has been fully admitted that Sandy was targeted for the crime of robbery because of the simple fact that he is a gay (and therefore a presumably weak) man. And according to Fortunato's testimony, one of his co-defendants turned the incident into a violent one, which then led to a chase that put Sandy in front of the speeding car that took his life. So other gays are supposed to feel less threatened be the situation because Fortunato has had a penis in his mouth?! Sorry, Brian, but the fact remains that a gay man was poached from a chat room and lured to his death! And all the piece of information about the defendant's sexuality does (if it's even true) is further highlight the trappings of living a life in the closet!
Throughout this entire hate crimes debate, our opposition has even more fully lifted the veil off their audacious ways. Focus on the Family has been among the most fallacious. They have been so deadset on selling the childish "all violent crimes are hate crimes" line, the likes of which completely ignores the arguments that hate crime laws proponents are putting forth! None of us are denying that violent crimes are typically hateful in nature. In fact, one of the problem with hate crimes laws is that they use the word "hate" in the first place. Perhaps if these measures worked under the more verbose "bias-motivated crimes laws" moniker, then maybe just maybe our opposition would start hearing what we are saying, which is that some hateful acts have an extra component. And maybe they would start responding to our actual arguments rather than the ones that are easier and more convenient to challenge.
Although considering their unwavering mindset is that gays want "special" rights by seeking the same protections others (such as religious people) already receive, and that gays are acting out of nothing more than politics by seeking an end to deaths like Mr. Sandy's, it's far more likely that even if we could God himself to shake them and tell them to wake the f***k up, they'd still choose their talking points over divine word. Lord knows they already choose their own selectively divisive version of the Bible over the one that has room for all.
I've always been on the fence about "hate crime laws" as I tend to agree that all crimes are hate crimes and all violent crimes should strike fear in all people.
However after reading your post I'm no longer on the fence and highly agree that the name should be changed to "bias-motivated crimes laws".
Posted by: Alonzo | Oct 5, 2007 12:46:31 PM
I am a gay man in SF and having studied law even the little I have, I must say that hate crimes are BS! Just like sexual harassment is BS. Harassment is harassment. Murder is murder. Period. We already have laws that punish people for these things, why should anyone be treated differently because of who they are? Isn't that discrimination? America was created to protect everyone, equally. Just like your hate for the religious right or that "tacky fag down the street" is protected, so should people who disagree with you or even hate you be protected, less the tables be turned and we find ourselves confronted with legislated discrimination. (I know it's already been done), but to exercise the same bias attitude we receive from those jerks makes us no different. See the dilemma? We're not innocent.
Posted by: Norm | Mar 23, 2009 3:39:51 AM
Well Norm, with all do respect: I would suggest you up your law study from "little" to "lots," at least when it comes to this issue. This is not about "protecting" anyone's hate. It's about addressing bias-motivated crimes -- crimes that specifically target a certain community -- in the fullest way possible. It's about using federal resources to investigate crimes in areas that may not have the resources, desire, or knowledge to do so.
And I would also suggest you study what this site is all about, as we do not "hate" anyone, and would never even think to use a line like "that tacky f*g down the street." Though this seems like the right time to mention that things like religious-motivated bias already ARE protected under the law.
Posted by: G-A-Y | Mar 23, 2009 7:43:11 AMcomments powered by Disqus