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07/15/2009

Video: Shameless desperation

by Jeremy Hooper

The Family Research Council have recruited a U.S. congressman and U.S Senator, risking their reputations on the hope that viewers of this video will not independently research the untruths that they and their socially conservative friends are spouting. Check out the thoroughly offensive nonsense:

-Saying that hate cries legislation quells religious freedom without citing any true examples?

-Acting as if this legislation puts gays in a "special class," overlooking the fact that other groups, including religious people, are already protected?

-Fallaciously implying that the legislation targets speech in a way that violates this country's First Amendment?

-Misrepping a Judiciary Committee proceeding in a way that makes is sounds as if the members turned down Rep. Louis Gohmert's (R-TX) amendment because they had some sort of insidious agenda, when in fact they turned away his amendment because it (like other suggested, purposelessly misguided amendments such as the one that applied to pedophiles) was thoroughly unnecessary?

-Citing the New Hampshire legislature's recent marriage action as an anti-"religious freedoms" example, even though that body SPECIFICALLY DID include religious protections in their marriage bill?!

-Completely overlooking the vulnerable LGBT people who should be the number one topic of discussion here?!


Good mother of unscrupulous bias, FRC: Don't you all realize that this stuff is going to be recorded for all of posterity?!?!?!?!

Hate Crimes Update HD [YT]

**To the point of Gohmert's amendment: At link is the full judiciary committee transcript. See for yourself just how fully David Barton is lying when he says that the committee "voted it down saying, 'no, no, no -- that's why we're doing this. We want pastors to stop saying that kind of nonsense.'" The Gohmert amendment (one of the eight attempts to derail that he suggested) begins on page 154: Full Committee Markup (4/22/09)

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Your thoughts

I've been following this blog for a while now, and I've made a few comments. I'm wondering if those who read the blog could help me out with the hate-crimes issue. Let me say first that I keep my religious beliefs away from my political views, so nothing I say here should be interpreted as theological.

I am against all hate-crimes legislation for one simple reason: I find it unnecessary. I decry the crimes perpetrated against minority groups. I find it disgusting that someone would beat someone to death over sexuality, religion or skin color. But I honestly do think that we should rely on existing laws to prosecute these offenders. It shouldn't matter why a person beat another person to death. The issue is that someone murdered someone else.

Would I advocate the total repeal of hate-crimes legislation, including those that protect religious minorities? Absolutely. I see hate-crimes laws as the equivalent of putting up two stop signs on the same pole. If we would just enforce the first stop sign properly, our situation would improve.

From the other side, though, I can see the point that existing laws have indeed failed to protect minorities and that hate-crimes laws are the same as civil-rights laws, guaranteeing freedom to those who are normally overlooked.

I'm not trying to change anyone's mind on this blog. I respectfully ask for those of you who disagree with me to simply explain your position.

Posted by: Brian | Jul 15, 2009 11:50:44 AM

Brian: Much of criminal law revolves around intent. If you accidentally hit someone with your car, you get a different punishment than if you deliberately mow someone down with it. Intent can be hard to measure, to be sure, but when someone specifically attacks another person based on (say) their race, studies have shown that the attacker is likely to do so again against another member of that group. Hate crimes bills attach a stricter penalty to hate-motivated crimes because the intent (if proven) indicates a bigger threat to society than (say) a random mugging.

Posted by: Paul | Jul 15, 2009 1:01:59 PM

Brian,

In theory your position is wonderful. Equal punishment for equal crimes, crime is crime no matter why you commit it, etc.

Ever since WW2 though, we've made the judgment that certain groups of people need to be protected from irrational bigots who would like nothing more than to pick up where Hitler left off. Our society has decided that it is far better to err on the side of caution than risk that bit of history ever repeating itself.

The motivation behind your actions matters. If you're crazy and you kill someone you'll be punished less harshly in many cases... but if you have no excuse or explanation and just attack/rape/kill people because you hate something about them SO much it drives you to do that... you should (rightly) be treated more harshly.

When you factor in that there can be pockets of intolerance and bigotry from big cities to small towns - you can see the reason for this legislation. Say we have a small town run by a racist mayor, with bigoted police officers and a homophobic DA. The Matthew Sheppard Act would enable the federal government to get involved IF it is necessary in cases like this where prosecution isn't being handled correctly at the local level.

Our Constitution says we are all created equal. This is just another check on irrational hatred.

Posted by: MattP | Jul 15, 2009 1:05:47 PM

When someone commits a hate crime by assaulting/mudering someone based soley on the victim's race, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, sex it is not just an attack on that person, but an attack felt by the entire victimized group.
Hate Crimes are about attacking large groups of people even though you may only be killing one.

That is why I feel hate crimes laws which affect the sentencing of a convicted offender are appropriate.

It should not be overused when unescessary, but it does help to draw attention to the issue of hate.

Posted by: B.J. Caldwell | Jul 15, 2009 1:19:33 PM

Thank you, everybody, for your responses. I will keep them in mind as I review this issue.

Posted by: Brian | Jul 15, 2009 2:14:55 PM

Brian, violent crimes are heinous in every way. The difference is that violent hate crimes are perpetrated not only as a vicious attack on an individual, but with a terrorist's intent. The "hate" isn't just directed at the victim of the violence, but is an implement of intimidation against everyone in that community. Hate crimes against LGBTs are intended to frighten everyone who is LGBT with the threat of future violence.

Burning a cross in front of a church is nothing more than fireworks until you address the intent, which is to instill fear - and then it becomes much more sinister, and it's impact much is more heinous. Flying an air plane full of passengers into a building is murder, but it is also much more sinister when you look at the motives of those who perpetrate such actions. Intent matters, and in most cases, it determines what the appropriate degree of punishment is.

Posted by: Dick Mills | Jul 15, 2009 3:09:19 PM

While all the replies on here are great, I think Dick Mills' answer is the most important. In some ways, Brian, you're right--murder is murder, and robbing someone of their life is unspeakably heinous regardless of why you did it. But killing, beating or otherwise victimizing someone specifically because of their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc., isn't a crime against just that person. when you get right down to it, it's really a form of terrorism.

Posted by: Rachel Snyder | Jul 15, 2009 7:59:36 PM

Brian, in theory I agree with you. In practice, we know that in certain places judges, prosecutors, juries, and police are flat out unwilling to work for justice.

Sean Kennedy was murdered 26 months ago tomorrow and his killer is already out of jail. Another gay man was stabbed 61 times and a jury just last week found the killer, who admitted doing it, not guilty because he said the gay man came on to him, so he had no choice but to stab him 61 times. In the last two weeks of June, there were no less than nine attacks on LGBT people in the United States because they were LGBT people, including one murder, at least two serial crimes, and three hospitalizations.

If we could count on people within the system doing the right thing, I'd say to hell with hate crime laws. But we can't because they won't, so we have to go with an imperfect solution until they're willing do their jobs.

Posted by: Matt Algren | Jul 15, 2009 8:02:57 PM

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